Weekly health news roundup Feb 21-27: colitis, shingles, staph bacteria, and giant cell arteritis

This weekly health news roundup includes stories about colitis, shingles, staph bacteria, and giant cell arteritis. Further connections were found between giant cell arteritis and the herpes virus, asthma was linked to an increased risk of suicide, and prostate cancer was linked to male pattern baldness. Additionally, we uncovered that the common western diet may trigger colitis and staph bacteria infection may contribute to eczema.

So in case you missed the top news stories of the week, here they are put together for your peruse.

arteritis in elderlyGiant cell arteritis in elderly linked to herpes virus causing chicken pox, shingles


Giant cell arteritis in elderly is linked to the herpes virus causing chicken pox and shingles. Giant cell arteritis is a condition in which the blood vessels in the temples and scalp become inflamed, which can lead to sudden blindness or stroke.

Study author Don Gilden said, “Our analysis, which is the largest to-date, provides compelling evidence that the virus also reactivates in people over 60 in another way, triggering giant cell arteritis.”
Giant cell arteritis is the most common blood vessel inflammation in seniors, affecting nearly 29 out of 100,000 people. Continue reading….

asthma and atopy linked to suicide risk and depressionAsthma and atopy linked to an increased risk of suicide, depression in young adults

Asthma and atopy is linked to an increased risk of suicide and depression in young adults. Atopy is a genetic predisposition to develop allergies. It is characterized by a heightened immune response towards allergens.

Previous research has found associations between asthma and atopy, and an increased risk of suicide and depression. The researchers at the University of Bristol found the link between pre-defined asthma and atopy with suicide by examining the Glasgow Alumni cohort study, which looked at university student data and smoking habits. The study also provided students’ mental health information as well.

Data was collected from 11,463 participants where 32 suicides were reported. The researchers examined socioeconomic positions and smoking habits with regards to the risk of suicide. Continue reading…

prostate cancer and baldnessProstate cancer risk linked to male pattern baldness at age 45

Prostate cancer risk is linked to male pattern baldness at age 45. The findings of the study, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, reveal that men with male pattern baldness by the age of 45 have an increased risk of developing prostate cancer by 40 percent, compared to men without. Baldness pattern that is occurring at the front of the head and the crown is the one related to the prostate cancer risk. Baldness in other areas was not found to be associated with prostate cancer.

Senior author Michael B. Cook said, “Our study found an increased risk for aggressive prostate cancer only in men with a very specific pattern of hair loss, baldness at the front and moderate hair-thinning on the crown of the head, at the age of 45. But we saw no increased risk for any form of prostate cancer in men with other hair-loss patterns. While our data show a strong possibility for a link between the development of baldness and aggressive prostate cancer, it’s too soon to apply these findings to patient care.” Continue reading…

western diet and colitis Colitis triggered by gut bacteria changes caused by following a Western diet

Following a Western diet causes gut bacteria changes that trigger colitis. A typical Western diet contains high levels of saturated fat, which has been found to be associated with complex immune disorders in those with a genetic predisposition. The immune disorders include inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), like Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. The findings of the latest study reveal a possible explanation as to why IBD is on the rise in the westernized societies.

Researchers from the University of Chicago found that concentrated milk fats can alter the composition of the intestines. These fats are commonly found in processed and confectionary foods. The changes these fats make can disrupt the truce between the intestines and the immune system, causing an influx of harmful bacteria that can release a damaging immune response.

Study author Eugene B. Chang said, “This is the first plausible mechanism showing step by step how Western-style diets contribute to the rapid and ongoing increase in the incidence of inflammatory bowel disease. We know how certain genetic differences can increase the risk for these diseases, but moving from elevated risk to the development of disease seems to require a second event which may be encountered because of our changing lifestyle.” Continue reading…

eczema inflammation bacteria infectionEczema-like inflammation caused by staph bacteria (staphylococcus aureus) infection


Eczema-like inflammation is caused by staph bacteria (staphylococcus aureus) infection. Eczema is a skin condition that leads to red, itchy rashes with no known cause. Researchers from the University of Michigan Medical School have now brought the medical community one step closer to better understanding of eczema with hopes to help improve treatments.
The findings suggest that a toxin produced by staph bacteria can cause immune cells in the skin to react with eczema-like rashes.

This molecule called delta toxin causes immune-system cells to release tiny granules that cause inflammation. It’s important to note that this reaction does not occur with any staph bacteria. Only strains of staph that have delta toxin can cause the inflammation.

Although the findings reveal how delta toxin plays a role in eczema, this is not enough to determine whether it is the cause of eczema. However, it does bring researchers one step closer to better understanding the skin condition. The findings were made in mice experiment, so it is still too early to suggest that the results would be the same in humans.
Some eczema patients have noted relief of eczema symptoms from antibiotics. However, antibiotics have drawbacks as a long-term therapy. Continue reading…


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