Using the immune system to combat addiction

According to new research, harnessing specific proteins that the immune system produces may lead to improved treatments for addiction, which is a notoriously difficult condition to treat.

In 2011, at least 20 million people in the United States had an addiction, excluding tobacco.

An estimated 100 people per day die from drug overdose, a figure that has tripled in the past 2 decades.

Addiction is a complex topic, involving interplay between neuroscience, psychology, and sociology.

Full story at Medical News Today

FDA Calls Youth E-Cigarette Use an Epidemic and Announces Steps to Curb Use

Youth e-cigarette use in the United States is an epidemic, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said Wednesday. He announced new steps the agency is taking to prevent youth vaping.

The FDA will stop sales of flavored e-cigarettes if major manufacturers cannot prove they are doing enough to keep them out of the hands of children and teens, USA Today reports. The agency is giving manufacturers 60 days to submit plans to prevent youth e-cigarette use. If the FDA does not approve the plans, it could order their products off the market.

Full story at drugfree.org

Health benefits of hemp seeds

Many people consider hemp seeds to be a superfood. The seeds have a rich nutritional profile and provide a range of health benefits.

Although hemp seeds come from the Cannabis sativa plant, they do not produce a mind-altering effect.

These small, brown seeds are rich in protein, fiber, and healthful fatty acids, including omega-3s and omega-6s. They have antioxidant effects and may reduce symptoms of numerous ailments, improving the health of the heart, skin, and joints.

Full story at Medical News Today

Back pain linked to mental health problems and risky behaviors in teenagers

A new study in the Journal of Public Health indicates that adolescents who experience back pain more frequently are also more likely to smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol, and report problems like anxiety and depression.

During adolescence, the prevalence of musculoskeletal pain (pain arising from the bones, joints or muscles) in general, and back pain in particular rises steeply. Although often dismissed as trivial and fleeting, adolescent back pain is responsible for substantial health care use, school absence, and interference with day-to-day activities in some children.

The aim of this study was to determine whether adolescents who experience back pain more often were also more likely to report other health risk indicators, such as alcohol use, smoking, school absenteeism, and depression or anxiety.

Full story at Science Daily

Binge drinking affects male and female brains differently

Gene expression in an area of the brain linked to addiction is affected differently by repeated binge drinking in males and females, finds a new study published today in Frontiers in Genetics. It reveals for the first time that genes associated with hormone signaling and immune function are affected by repeated binge drinking in female mice, whereas genes associated with nerve signaling are affected in males. These findings have significant implications for the treatment of alcohol use disorder as they emphasize the importance of tailoring effective therapies towards male and female patients.

“We show that repeated binge drinking significantly alters molecular pathways in the nucleus accumbens, a region of the brain linked to addiction. A comparison of activated pathways reveals different responses in each sex, similar to that reported in recent research on male and female mice tested during the withdrawal phase following chronic alcohol intoxication,” says Deborah Finn, a Professor of Behavioral Neuroscience at Oregon Health & Science University and a Research Pharmacologist at the VA Portland Health Care System, USA.

She continues, “These findings are important as they increase our understanding of male and female differences in molecular pathways and networks that can be influenced by repeated binge drinking. This knowledge can help us identify and develop new targeted treatments for alcohol use disorder in males and female patients.”

Full story at Science Daily