Thursday, September 25, 2014

Loss of a Partner in Old Age

Old people don't die of a 'broken heart', but because grief weakens their immune system, according to scientists.
Dr. Anna Phillips, who led the University of Birmingham study, said ''I believe it's the answer to why we see wives and husbands dying soon after the death of a spouse, who is their main social support.''

The researchers argue that this could help explain why elderly couples often die within days of each other. They found that bereavement causes stress hormones to become unbalanced in the elderly and lead to a reduction in immune system cells.
They analysed a type of white blood cell called the neutrophil, which plays a critical role in fending off any invasions of bacteria or other infectious agents that could lead to serious illnesses, such as pneumonia, which often claims the lives of elderly, bereaved people. While neutrophil numbers were not lowered in the older people, their ability to kill bacteria with destructive molecules called reactive-oxygen species was compromised.
However, the researchers found that the phenomenon was only seen in people older than 65. Younger people appear to be less susceptible to the physical effects of bereavement on their immune systems.
''A broken heart bleeds tears''  
                                         ~ Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Alzheimer's Disease Drug Risk

A popular sedative has recently been linked with an increased risk of developing Alzheimer's disease. Benzodiazepines, which are used to treat anxiety and insomnia, are associated with a heightened risk of developing the condition, a new study claims. Published on the British Medical Journal  ( , it examined data from a health insurance database in Quebec.
French and Canadian researchers identified 1,700 elderly people with Alzheimer's disease and more than 7,000 healthy people for comparison. The use of benzodiazepines was associated with an increased risk of actually developing the disease. The risk was greatest among those who used the long-acting version of the medication.


Monday, September 01, 2014

Hurricane Blow

After hurricane Katrina in 2005, 1,836 people died and over 214,000 homes were damaged or destroyed. Many suffered depression and post traumatic stress, and as a result the demand for illegal drugs sky-rocketed. Squatters raided the abundant empty properties that now lay vacant for anything they could get their hands on. Favourites included prescription meds such as Adderall and Ritalin. Addicts described their delight at pill bottles that lay scattered in the streets after the flood waters subsided. They were now consumers of a derelict environment that was a mecca for drugs.
Before Katrina hit, over 67% of the population was African-American, one in eight did not return. One drug dealer stated that, ''after Katrina the skin colour of my clients changed'' and stating that most of his clients are now 'gutter punks' - young, white, homeless travellers.
The murder rate in New Orleans is ten times the national average. It was a violent city before the infamous storm, but with the explosion of small time drug dealers fighting over turf, violence has spread to new parts of the city.

Did the drugs flow help re-build New Orleans? Citizens found themselves awash with government relief money. Many used it to get back on their feet but some used it to self-medicate. Money that was handed out for things such as rent allowance didn't always find it's intended use. One man spending his $5000 relief money on an instalment of $2000 of marijuana to become a small time dealer.
Hurricane Katrina dramatically changed the drug trade in New Orleans. After the hurricane people were devastated and drug dealers saw this as an opportunity. New Orleans is not the city to kick a habit. Small time dealers are now scattered across the city making more drugs available to more people. Until the next hurricane, The Big Easy will remain the city that sobriety forgot.
Louis Armstrong smoked weed everyday, so what's new?