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Social network structure is predictive of health and wellness

Social network analysis has been used for health-related problems including mental health [4, 6], physical well-beings [1, 2], and illness [8, 27]. Most of the work has largely focused on social networks as a diffusion mechanism of health [1–5] or emotions [6–9]. This paper provides a novel perspective on the value of social network structure in not only understanding our health behavior but also in predicting the wellness states, above and beyond what the data from wearables or demographic tells us. Clearly, social networks are an important piece of the puzzle about our health and wellness. We showed that by including features derived from social networks, accuracy increases significantly and at times using only social network features adds more predictability. Specifically, we find that happiness and positive attitude have the most significant jump when using social network structure features in addition to health behavior and demographic data. This clearly demonstrates that it is the tight coupling of an ego’s social and health behavior that result in improved understanding and predictability of the ego’s wellness state.

Your circle of friends is more predictive of your health, study finds -- ScienceDaily

Handing someone a means to track their steps and monitor their health in the hopes that their health improves simply may not be enough to see meaningful or significant results. Those employers, Chawla said, would benefit from encouraging employees to build a platform to post and share their experiences with each other. Social network structure helps complete the picture of health and well-being. […]"When we hear that health and wellness programs driven by wearables at places of employment aren't working, we should be asking, is it because we're just taking a single dimensional view where we just give the employees the wearables and forget about it without taking the step to understand the role social networks play in health?"

Your circle of friends is more predictive of your health, study finds -- ScienceDaily

Social network structure provided significant improvement in predicting one's health and well-being compared to just looking at health behavior data from the Fitbit alone. For example, when social network structure is combined with the data derived from wearables, the machine learning model achieved a 65 percent improvement in predicting happiness, 54 percent improvement in predicting one's self-assessed health prediction, 55 percent improvement in predicting positive attitude, and 38 percent improvement in predicting success. "This study asserts that without social network information, we only have an incomplete view of an individual's wellness state, and to be fully predictive or to be able to derive interventions, it is critical to be aware of the social network structural features as well," Chawla said.

Exercise activates memory neural networks in older adults: Study shows acute exercise has the ability to impact brain regions important to memory -- ScienceDaily

Dr. Smith's research team measured the brain activity (using fMRI) of healthy participants ages 55-85 who were asked to perform a memory task that involves identifying famous names and non famous ones. The action of remembering famous names activates a neural network related to semantic memory, which is known to deteriorate over time with memory loss. This test was conducted 30 minutes after a session of moderately intense exercise (70% of max effort) on an exercise bike and on a separate day after a period of rest. Participants' brain activation while correctly remembering names was significantly greater in four brain cortical regions (including the middle frontal gyrus, inferior temporal gryus, middle temporal gyrus, and fusiform gyrus) after exercise compared to after rest. The increased activation of the hippocampus was also seen on both sides of the brain. "Just like a muscle adapts to repeated use, single sessions of exercise may flex cognitive neural networks in ways that promote adaptations over time and lend to increased network integrity and function and allow more efficient access to memories," Dr. Smith explained.

It's OK to indulge once in a while, study suggests: The body adapts to occasional short-term overeating: Body focuses on removing glucose to preserve insulin sensitivity in short-term overeating bout -- ScienceDaily

Although the amount of visceral fat that surrounds internal organs increased substantially, short-term overeating did not have a significant effect on the men's weight or fat mass. In addition, fasting levels of blood sugar and C-peptide -- an amino acid the body releases in response to increased production of insulin -- did not change. This finding was surprising because fasting levels of endogenous glucose -- new glucose the body produces in addition to what it has already stored for future use -- increased during the short-term trial. Chronic overeating increased the amount of total body fat and visceral fat as well as post-meal blood sugar and C-peptide levels. However, it did not alter fasting blood sugar levels, endogenous glucose production or the rate of glucose removal from the body (glucose disposal). This may be because the nutrient profile in the long-term trial was consistent with a typical diet and dietary fat percentages did not increase. Long-term overindulgence in fatty foods, instead of more nutritionally balanced foods, may be an important factor that causes rapid changes in blood sugar control.

More Evidence Links Marijuana Use And Psychosis : Shots - Health News : NPR

The study found that those who used pot daily were three times more likely to have a psychotic episode compared to someone who never used the drug. Those who started using cannabis at the age of 15 or less had a slightly more elevated risk than those who started using in later years. Use of high potency weed almost doubled the odds of having psychosis compared to someone who had never smoked weed, explains Di Forti. And for those who used high potency pot on a daily basis, the risk of psychosis was even greater — four times greater than those who had never used.

Cells use sugars to communicate at the molecular level -- ScienceDaily

Using engineered synthetic cells as a model system, lead author Cesar Rodriguez-Emmenegger, a former member of Percec's group, now at Aachen, discovered a way to directly study cell membranes using a method called atomic force microscopy. This approach generates extremely high-resolution scans that reveal shapes and structures at a scale of less than a nanometer, nearly 10,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair. Percec's group then built a model that computes how the structural images relate to the cell's function. The study is the first example of a diffraction-like method that can be done on whole synthetic cells. Using this new method, Percec's group discovered that a lower concentration of sugars on a cell membrane's surface led to increased reactivity with proteins on the membranes of other cells.

THC found more important for therapeutic effects in cannabis than originally thought: Researchers measure product characteristics and associated effects with mobile app -- ScienceDaily

Since its release in 2016, the commercially developed ReleafApp has been the only publicly available, incentive-free app for educating patients on how their type of product (e.g., flower or concentrate), combustion method, cannabis subspecies (indica, sativa, and hybrid), and major cannabinoid contents (THC and CBD) affect their symptom severity levels, essentially providing invaluable user feedback on their health status, medication choices, and the clinical outcomes of those choices as measured by symptom relief and side effects. The study aimed to address the practical questions of knowing how fundamental characteristics of currently available and frequently used cannabis products, characteristics that often influence consumer choices, affect health symptom intensity levels. The average patient, across the roughly 20,000 measured user sessions and 27 measured symptom categories ranging from depression to seizure activity, showed an immediate symptom improvement of 3.5 points on a 0-10 scale. Dried flower was the most commonly used product and generally associated with greater symptom improvement than other types of products.

BARBARIANS AT THE GATE: CONSUMER-DRIVEN HEALTH DATA COMMONS AND THE TRANSFORMATION OF CITIZEN SCIENCE

A few state court cases have found patients own their medical records under specific circumstances.118 Unfortunately, the pertinent body of state medical records law generally applies in traditional healthcare settings and seemingly does not govern commercial providers of PHD devices and services, such as purveyors of medical and fitness devices. Courts do not recognize an individual property right in personal information such as one’s name, address, and social security number.119 Commercial databases that hold such information are generally treated as the property of the companies that compiled them.120 In a famous case121 where plaintiffs sought to block a company from disclosing their personal information by selling its mailing lists, Vera Bergelson notes an implicit judicial bias “that, to the extent personal information may be viewed as property, that property belongs to the one who collects it.”122 This bias— if it exists—is reminiscent of the ancient res nullius doctrine from natural resource law, which treated assets such as subsurface mineral deposits and wild animals as unowned until somebody discovers and captures (takes possession of) them.123 “Rarely used today, it let private owners stake claims as in the Klondike gold rush.”124

Pot withdrawal eased for dependent users | YaleNews

Withdrawal symptoms are marked by craving for marijuana, irritability, anger, depression, insomnia, and decrease in appetite and weight. In 2015, about 4 million people in the United States met the diagnostic criteria for a cannabis use disorder, and almost 150,000 voluntarily sought treatment for their cannabis use. According to recent national data, approximately one-third of all current cannabis users meet diagnostic criteria for CUD.

The link between cannabis use and psychotic-like experiences is largely the result of genetic factors

Karcher and her colleagues found that cannabis use was positively associated with psychotic-like experiences, even after controlling for a number of demographic variables and other substance use measures. But genetic factors accounted for 69.2% to 84.1% of the association. “The study indicates that the relationship between psychotic-like experiences and marijuana use is largely the result of shared genetics,” she explained to PsyPost.

Can wearable technology identify irregular heart rhythms? -- ScienceDaily

Researchers at Stanford Medicine, in collaboration with Apple, launched the Apple Heart Study last November to determine whether a mobile app that uses the optical sensor on the Apple Watch to analyze pulse rate data can identify atrial fibrillation. The condition, which is characterized by an irregular heartbeat, often remains hidden because many people don't experience symptoms. Atrial fibrillation can increase the risk of stroke and heart failure. A paper to be published online Nov. 1 in the American Heart Journal describes the design of this unique clinical trial, the largest screening study on atrial fibrillation ever done. Enrollment, which was conducted through an iPhone app, is now closed. The study has entered the final phase of data collection and will be completed early next year, the researchers said. The Stanford team is led by principal investigators Mintu Turakhia, MD, associate professor of cardiovascular medicine, and Marco Perez, MD, assistant professor of cardiovascular medicine, and by study chair Kenneth Mahaffey, MD, professor of cardiovascular medicine. "We hope this study will help us better understand how wearable technologies can inform precision health," said Lloyd Minor, MD, dean of the School of Medicine. "These new tools, which have the potential to predict, prevent and manage disease, are finally within our reach."

Teen cannabis use is not without risk to cognitive development -- ScienceDaily

"However, further increases in cannabis use, but not alcohol consumption, showed additional concurrent and lagged effects on cognitive functions, such as perceptual reasoning, memory recall, working memory and inhibitory control," Conrod said. "Of particular concern was the finding that cannabis use was associated with lasting effects on a measure of inhibitory control, which is a risk factor for other addictive behaviours, and might explain why early onset cannabis use is a risk factor for other addictions." Morin added: "Some of these effects are even more pronounced when consumption begins earlier in adolescence."

Everything You Know About Obesity Is Wrong - The Huffington Post

The United States spends $1.5 billion on nutrition research every year compared to around $60 billion on drug research. Just 4 percent of agricultural subsidies go to fruits and vegetables. No wonder that the healthiest foods can cost up to eight times more, calorie for calorie, than the unhealthiest—or that the gap gets wider every year. It’s the same with exercise. The cardiovascular risks of sedentary lifestyles, suburban sprawl and long commutes are well-documented. […]Only 13 percent of American children walk or bike to school; once they arrive, less than a third of them will take part in a daily gym class. Among adults, the number of workers commuting more than 90 minutes each way grew by more than 15 percent from 2005 to 2016, a predictable outgrowth of America’s underinvestment in public transportation and over-investment in freeways, parking and strip malls. For 40 years, as politicians have told us to eat more vegetables and take the stairs instead of the elevator, they have presided over a country where daily exercise has become a luxury and eating well has become extortionate.

Inside Marijuana Anonymous, the group for people addicted to weed – VICE News

Michael described it as a silent addiction. “No one sees you, you’re not out robbing people. You’re not beating people up, you’re not getting into fights,” he said. “So for the rest of society, you’re not really a problem. You’re just a problem to yourself because you’re not doing anything with your life.” “It’s like being kicked to death by a bunny.” One of the reasons people might hold the view that cannabis is safer is because the withdrawal syndrome is kind of non-specific and could easily be attributed to something else, said Juurlink.

In test with rats, cannabidiol showed sustained effects against depression for seven days -- ScienceDaily

"The forced swim test is used to measure the effect of antidepressant drugs because all known antidepressants shorten the duration of immobility and hence lengthen swim time. A reduction in immobility time in this test is interpreted as 'antidepressant-like' behavior." The researchers found that cannabidiol induced acute and sustained antidepressant-like effects in mice submitted to the forced swim test. "However, to make sure this result isn't due to the increase in movement caused by a psychostimulant effect leading the animals to swim more vigorously, for example, we performed a separate test to control for locomotor activity," Joca explained. "To do this we used the open-field test, which consists of putting the animal in a novel arena and letting it explore the new environment freely while its locomotor and exploratory activity is recorded. A drug is said to have potential antidepressant effects if it reduces immobility time and increases swim time in the forced swim test without increasing locomotor activity in the open-field test, showing that the effects observed in the forced swim test aren't secondary to nonspecific alterations in locomotor activity."

Differences between combined, isolated use of cannabis, nicotine on brain networks -- ScienceDaily

MRI scans were used to evaluate resting state functions in 12 different regions of the brain among four groups of participants: 28 nicotine users, 53 cannabis users, 26 nicotine and cannabis users, and 30 non-users in a control group. These scans revealed that the control group displayed greater connectivity in almost all of the networks compared to the nicotine and cannabis groups, while the combined nicotine plus cannabis group had greater connectivity than the only-nicotine and only-cannabis groups. Notably, this study did not demonstrate a correlation between substance use severity and functional connectivity.

Can You Get Addicted to Pot? - The Atlantic

Public-health experts worry about the increasingly potent options available, and the striking number of constant users. “Cannabis is potentially a real public-health problem,” said Mark A. R. Kleiman, a professor of public policy at New York University. “It wasn’t obvious to me 25 years ago, when 9 percent of self-reported cannabis users over the last month reported daily or near-daily use. I always was prepared to say, ‘No, it’s not a very abusable drug. Nine percent of anybody will do something stupid.’ But that number is now [something like] 40 percent.”

Liberals do drink more lattes, but maybe not for the reasons you think -- ScienceDaily

In fact, only 16% of liberals, 11% of moderates, and 9% of conservatives prefer lattes. In exploring why liberals show a stronger preference for lattes, the researchers considered numerous factors, including the availability of lattes in one's local area, household income, and gender. Although all of these were predictors of latte drinking, none of them explained the relationship between lattes and liberals. However, latte drinkers' attitudes toward globalization proved most meaningful in explaining why liberals are more likely to drink lattes.

What people think they're doing and what they're doing are very different

They found that: Smartphone usage is repetitive and consistent for each person Future phone checking frequency can be predicted with very little data A standard survey was unable to predict these behaviours For example, the researchers found that if you check your phone 80 times today, you are likely to repeat this behaviour every day. Dr Tom Wilcockson from Lancaster University said: "Multiple checks could indicate an absent minded use of mobile phones, which is habitual and unconscious"

Coffee affects cannabis and steroid systems -- ScienceDaily

Blood metabolites of the endocannabinoid system decreased with coffee consumption, particularly with eight cups per day, the study found. The endocannabinoid metabolic pathway is an important regulator of our stress response, Cornelis said, and some endocannabinoids decrease in the presence of chronic stress. "The increased coffee consumption over the two-month span of the trial may have created enough stress to trigger a decrease in metabolites in this system," she said. "It could be our bodies' adaptation to try to get stress levels back to equilibrium." The endocannabinoid system also regulates a wide range of functions: cognition, blood pressure, immunity, addiction, sleep, appetite, energy and glucose metabolism.

Start small

If the science is compelling and if an incremental approach is good enough for the top athletes in the world, then why do so many people still fall prey to a suboptimal cycle of big, in-over-your-head workouts followed by extended time off due to injury and fatigue? Dixon believes there are two primary reasons: a lack of self-confidence, and a lack of understanding the training process.

Three or more cups of coffee daily halves mortality risk in patients with both HIV, HCV -- ScienceDaily

Coffee is known to have anti-inflammatory and liver-protective properties. In the general population, drinking three or more cups of coffee a day has been found to be associated with a 14% reduction in the risk of all-cause mortality. This is probably due to the properties of polyphenols contained in coffee that can protect the liver and also reduce inflammation.

We're motivated to stay ahead more than to catch up? (Relates to fear of losing?)

Peer effects in running are also heterogeneous across relationship types. For example, runners are more influenced by peers whose performance is slightly worse, but not far worse, than their own as well as by those who perform slightly better, but not far better, than they do (Fig. 2a). Moreover, less active runners influence more active runners more than more active runners influence less active runners (Fig. 2b). These results are corroborated by heterogeneity across consistent and inconsistent runners. Inconsistent runners influence consistent runners more than consistent runners influence inconsistent runners (Fig. 2c). Social comparisons may provide an explanation for these results. Festinger’s social comparison theory proposes that we self-evaluate by comparing ourselves to others27. But, in the context of exercise, a debate exists about whether we make upward comparisons to those performing better than ourselves28 or downward comparisons to those performing worse than ourselves29. Comparisons to those ahead of us may motivate our own self-improvement, while comparisons to those behind us may create ‘competitive behaviour to protect one’s superiority’ (27, p. 126). Our findings are consistent with both arguments, but the effects are much larger for downward comparisons than for upward comparisons.

Cycling to work 'halves risk of heart disease and cancer' | Daily Mail Online

The researchers, whose findings are published in the BMJ, studied the commuting habits of 263,450 middle aged men and women. They assessed their health for five years and recorded whether they developed cancer, heart disease or died of any cause. Adults who walked to work – typically six miles a week – were 27 per cent less likely to develop heart disease than those who drove or took public transport. But walking did not protect them against cancer or other chronic health problems – possibly because they were not exercising for long enough. Adults who cycled to work for any distance were more than 40 per cent less likely to get cancer, heart disease or die within the next five years.

Is soda bad for your brain? (And is diet soda worse?): Both sugary, diet drinks correlated with accelerated brain aging -- ScienceDaily

Now, new research suggests that excess sugar -- especially the fructose in sugary drinks -- might damage your brain. Researchers using data from the Framingham Heart Study (FHS) found that people who drink sugary beverages frequently are more likely to have poorer memory, smaller overall brain volume, and a significantly smaller hippocampus -- an area of the brain important for learning and memory. But before you chuck your sweet tea and reach for a diet soda, there's more: a follow-up study found that people who drank diet soda daily were almost three times as likely to develop stroke and dementia when compared to those who did not.