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New Study Shows UV Dryers For Gel Manicures May Damage The DNA In Your Hands

A new study published in Nature Communications shows that getting frequent gel manicures using UV nail polish dryers can cause damage to the DNA in our hands, and potentially lead to skin cancer. 

Ultraviolet (UV) rays are known to cause skin cancer at high exposures, and there isn’t a lot of current research on the potential harms of UV nail polish dryers.  

The University of California San Diego recently released a press release that explained “that the common devices in nail salons generally use a particular spectrum of UV light (340-395nm) to cure the chemicals used in gel manicures. While tanning beds use a different spectrum of UV light (280-400nm) there have been studies that show tanning bed UV light is carcinogenic, or cancer-causing, however, the spectrum used for nail dryers has not been extensively studied.”

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“If you look at the way these devices are presented, they are marketed as safe, with nothing to be concerned about. But to the best of our knowledge, no one has actually studied these devices and how they affect human cells at the molecular and cellular levels until now,” said Ludmil Alexandrov, a professor of bioengineering and cellular and molecular medicine at UC San Diego, and corresponding author of the study. 

Researchers of the study found that using the device for one 20 minute session led to 20-30% cell death, where three consecutive 20 minute exposures caused between 65-70% of exposed cells to die. 

The UV light also caused mitochondrial and DNA damage to the skin cells, resulting in mutations with patterns that can also be seen in skin cancer in humans. 

“We saw multiple things: first, we saw that DNA gets damaged,” said Alexandrov in a press release. 

“We also saw that some of the DNA damage does not get repaired over time, and it does lead to mutations after every exposure with a UV-nail polish dryer. Lastly, we saw that exposure may cause mitochondrial dysfunction, which may also result in additional mutations. We looked at patients with skin cancers, and we see the exact same patterns of mutations in these patients that were seen in the irradiated cells.”

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation “90% of the visible signs of aging come from daily exposure to UV light. This means fine lines, wrinkling, saggy skin, sun spots, uneven skin tone,” says Mona Gohara, M.D., associate clinical professor of dermatology at Yale School of Medicine and Prevention Medical Review Board member. 

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“In addition, it can alter one’s DNA repair mechanisms, making skin cancer possible. In general, more people are diagnosed with skin cancer each year in the U.S. than all other cancers combined.”

UV-cured manicures are safest when one applies a broad-spectrum sunscreen of SPF 30 around 30 minutes before the manicure, as well as when one wears fingerless gloves during the manicure. 

“UV light with manicures can always pose a risk. LED lights pose less of a risk, but could still pose some potential dangers. It’s kind of analogous to smoking a cigarette, the more you do it, the more at risk you are. If you want to be sure that no exposure is happening, use sunscreen, cover your hands with cotton gloves, or avoid manis that involve light devices,” says Dr. Gohara

“The knowledge that UV radiation exposure causes DNA mutation in the skin is not new. We know that UV radiation is a known and proven risk for skin cancer and this is why we wear sunscreen, sun protective clothing, hats, sit in the shade and ideally have regular skin checks with a board-certified dermatologist,” says Dr. Stern. 

“For anyone getting UV gel manicures, it is advisable to protect the skin with a UV protective barrier such as fingertip-less UV protective gloves as well as broad-spectrum sunscreen applied 30 minutes before the gel manicure. It is key that the sunscreen is broad-spectrum in order to protect against UVA rays,” advises Dr. Stern.

isolated

Social Isolation Linked to Higher Risk of Developing Dementia

A recent study found that the risk of developing dementia is 27% higher among older adults who lack regular social contact and interaction with others.

The study, conducted by researchers from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, was published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. It used data from a group of 5,022 participants aged 65 and older (with an average age of 76) as part of a long-term study titled National Health and Aging Trends.

At the time of the study, the participants were not living in a nursing home, residential care facility or other institution. They were asked to complete a two-hour, in-person interview to assess cognitive function, health status and overall well-being.

Initially, about 23% of the participants were socially isolated but showed no signs of dementia. The other 77% of participants were not considered socially isolated.

According to the study, social isolation is characterized by interacting with others infrequently and having few relationships. The researchers considered if participants lived with others, attended religious services, participated in social events, or discussed “important matters” with two or more people in the past year. Participants who engaged in none of the above were considered socially isolated.

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During the nine years of the study, researchers periodically administered cognitive tests. The study showed that 26% of the participants considered socially isolated developed dementia, compared with 20% of those who were not deemed socially isolated.

In total, 21% of all participants had developed dementia, leading researchers to conclude that the risk of developing dementia over nine years was 27% higher in socially isolated older adults.

Social isolation among older adults is associated with greater dementia risk. Elucidating the pathway by which social isolation impacts dementia may offer meaningful insights for the development of novel solutions to prevent or ameliorate dementia across diverse racial and ethnic groups.”

Dr. Alison Huang, a senior research associate at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said, “one possible explanation is that having fewer opportunities to socialize with others decreases cognitive engagement as well, potentially contributing to increased risk of dementia.”

Dr. Thomas Cudjoe, an assistant professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins and a senior author of the study, stated  in a news release that “social connections matter for our cognitive health, and it is potentially easily modifiable for older adults without the use of medication.”

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that around 5.8 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia.  Being socially isolated “has also been linked to poor mental health and emotional well-being in older people.”

Another study that used data from participants in the same National Health and Aging Trends study “found that more than 70% of people age 65 and up who were not socially isolated at their initial appointment had a working cellphone and/or computer, and regularly used email or texting to initiate and respond to others.”

This second study, conducted over four years, found that older adults who used these technologies showed a 31% lower risk for social isolation than other participants. 

Dr. Mfon Umoh, a postdoctoral fellow in geriatric medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said that “basic communications technology is a great tool to combat social isolation.” 

“This study shows that access and use of simple technologies are important factors that protect older adults against social isolation, which is associated with significant health risks. This is encouraging because it means simple interventions may be meaningful.”

covid

60,000 People Have Died In China From Covid-19 Since December

Around 60,000 individuals in China have died from Covid-19 since early December when the country abandoned its strict “zero Covid” policy. 

strike

7,000 Nurses Go on Strike at Two of NYC’s Largest Hospitals

After a weekend of talks failed to produce agreements for new contracts, more than 7,000 nurses at Mount Sinai Medical Center and Montefiore Medical Center in New York City are going on strike to demand better pay and working conditions.

The walkouts began at 6 a.m. Monday morning. The New York State Nurses Association, representing 42,000 nurses, said that chronic understaffing prompted the strike. Hiring has not been sufficient to cover the nursing shortages created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nancy Hagans, president of the NYSNA, said the nurses “do not take striking lightly, but that’s what’s going to happen if our bosses give us no other choice.”  The failure of hospital administrators to hire nurses left behind hundreds of unfilled slots, leaving current nurses to pick up the workload.  

“Our No. 1 issue is a crisis of staffing. It is an issue that our employers have ignored.” 

Despite having 760 open nursing positions, Montefiore Medical Center did not fill any of them. According to Ms. Hagan, some nurses tend to up to 20 patients at a time. This puts tremendous pressure on workers, especially in the emergency room, which is “so overcrowded that patients are admitted in beds in the hallway instead of hospital rooms.”

The union desires adequate enforcement mechanisms to ensure compliance with safe staffing levels. They are also requesting pay increases commensurate with inflation rates. Sunday night’s negotiation session failed to produce an agreement. Monday has no scheduled bargaining sessions, but the nurses are eager to return to the table.

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Monday’s strike put a strain on the NYC healthcare system, with hospitals having to relocate patients, reroute ambulances, and reduce other services. Hospitals were already feeling the impact of the citywide tripledemic of RSV, influenza and COVID-19. Because of nursing shortages, hospitals brought in temporary staff, including doctors, to continue operations.

Mario Cilento, the president of the New York State American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, showed support for the nurses in a statement released on Monday.

“It is time for the hospitals to treat these nurses fairly, with the dignity and respect they deserve, to ensure nurses can get back to serving their communities by providing superior care to their patients.”

 Gov. Kathy Hochul called for binding arbitration on Sunday night to postpone the strike, but the union rejected the offer.

“Gov. Hochul should listen to front-line COVID-19 nurse heroes and respect our federally protected labor and collective bargaining rights. Nurses don’t want to strike. Bosses have pushed us to strike by refusing to seriously consider our proposals to address the desperate crisis of unsafe staffing that harms our patients.”

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 The union leaders at Montefiore Medical Center turned down management’s offer of a 19.1% compounded wage increase over three years and a commitment to add more than 170 new nursing jobs. Mount Sinai administrators released a statement addressing the latest negotiations, during which union leaders walked out at 1 a.m. on Monday morning.

 “We remain committed to seamless and compassionate care, recognizing that the union leadership’s decision will spark fear and uncertainty across our community. Our first priority is the safety of our patients. We’re prepared to minimize disruption, and we encourage Mount Sinai nurses to continue providing the world-class care they’re known for.”

 The pandemic has left front-line medical workers with a distrust of hospital management. In recent years, nurses have walked out in states across the country as well as worldwide. Nurses in the United Kingdom went on strike last month for the first time in seven decades.

 Nurses and doctors still remember the dangerous working conditions when COVID-19 first swept through the city in 2020, inundating hospitals with patients and killing more than 22,000 residents. Hospitals were inadequately prepared, and there was insufficient personal protective equipment for medical staff.

Foreseeing the impending strike, both Montefiore and Mount Sinai have rushed to make preparations in recent days. Mayor Eric Adams said in a statement released Sunday night that the city is in contact with the hospital networks. Still, he acknowledged that some parts of the city’s hospitals would likely be overburdened.

 “In the event of a strike, our system will be prepared to meet the challenges. If there is a nurses’ strike, hospitals in certain areas may experience impacts to operations, including possible delayed or limited service. We encourage all New Yorkers to call 911 only for emergencies, and be prepared to seek an alternate facility in case their preferred hospital is impacted.”

knee

New Study States Common Treatment For Arthritis May Accelerate Disease Progression

At a recent meeting of the Radiological Society of North America, the findings of two recent studies were presented, which stated that corticosteroid injections, a common treatment used for those with osteoarthritis, could actually accelerate the progression of the disease.

flu

Americans May Face a ‘Tripledemic’ This Winter With the Spread of Influenza, RSV and Covid-19

At least three viruses—influenza, COVID-19, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)—are threatening to overwhelm the country this holiday season. Americans will grapple with multiple respiratory pathogens, both old and new.

monkeypox

CDC Says Monkeypox Is Unlikely To Be Eradicated Anytime Soon

According to a report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, domestic transmission of the monkeypox virus is unlikely to be eliminated anytime soon.

The CDC said the virus’s spread has slowed but is likely to continue for years. In August, daily infections peaked at more than 400 cases a day. Now the agency reports fewer than 150 cases a day.

The decline in cases is due to vaccines becoming more accessible and the public becoming more knowledgeable about how to avoid infection. Immunity has also likely increased within the most impacted group, which is men who have sex with other men.

The disease is spread between people during close contact, most commonly through sex. Monkeypox is usually not fatal, but it causes those infected to get painful blisters all over their body. At least two people have died from the disease.

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Lori Tremmel Freeman, chief executive officer of the National Association of County and City Health officials, told CNN that people with compromised immune systems should be most cautious.

“These few deaths – whether or not they’re fully attributable to monkeypox or people died with monkeypox – they likely wouldn’t have died if they didn’t have some of these underlying conditions or their bodies weren’t already compromised.”

We currently have the most monkeypox cases worldwide, with more than 24,000 cases reported across 50 states. The Biden administration declared a public health emergency earlier this August when cases were highest. The declaration helped allocate more resources to testing, vaccinations, treatment and community outreach to stop the spread of the virus within the U.S.

The Jynneos monkeypox vaccine has been administered to more than 684,000 people. The CDC believes the virus will continue to spread mainly among men who have sex with other men, but anyone can catch the virus through close contact with someone infected. So far, 29 children and 408 women have also caught the virus.

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Within the reported cases, 75% of patients reported having male-to-male contact, but that number has decreased over time. The CDC says the decline may be due to missing data rather than a change in the transmission pattern of the virus. However, more than 90% of infections are still among males.

The outbreak could start spreading among the U.S. population through other forms of contact, but no country with infected populations has found a significant spread outside men who have sex with other men.

Marc Lipsitch, director of science in the CDC disease forecasting center, told The Associated Press that the disease is still a continuing threat.

“It’s in many geographic locations within the country. There’s no clear path in our mind to complete elimination domestically.”

The virus is endemic in parts of West and Central Africa and was mainly transmitted through contact with infected animals until May. If the U.S. animal population gets infected, it could also spread quickly among people in the future. The CDC is still learning which species of animals can get monkeypox.

The agency cannot predict the number of people who may get infected with the virus. However, it believes the number of cases will continue to decline over the next several months.

flu

How To Stay Healthy Against The Flu And Covid-19 This Fall 

According to reports from a Salt Lake City newspaper, doctors are gearing up for a severe flu season in the coming months after Australia’s season just ended. The US often looks at Australia to predict what the states might experience during a typical flu season. 

Australia reported 300 deaths and 1,700 hospitalizations brought on by influenza season this year. Kencee graves, an associate professor of internal medicine, noted that Utah specifically hasn’t seen major flu outbreaks within the past two years, however, that doesn’t mean other states shouldn’t relax health and safety precautions as the winter season approaches. 

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In 2021, Australia experienced no deaths and very little hospitalizations brought on by the flu, so the major increase in cases this year was unexpected. 

“That is what makes us in the U.S. a little concerned about how severe this flu season could be. That makes this year an important one to get the flu vaccine,” Graves said.

Doctors typically recommend getting a flu shot before Halloween, as flu season officially starts in October in the US, and continues into March, according to Graves. 

Graves also explained that it’s typically okay for one to get a flu and Covid-19 vaccine at the same time, but if you’re an individual who tends to have a severe reaction to vaccines, you should get both doses at different times to allow your body to adjust. 

“A person’s primary series of the vaccine provides immunity to COVID-19, then follow-up boosters add to that immunity. The original boosters were targeted against the original strain of SARS-CoV-2,” Dr. Hannah Imlay, assistant professor of internal medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases at University of Utah Health, told KSL

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“But successive waves of different variants have swept across the world, and vaccines don’t target them as well. They do protect against severe disease and death. But the new bivalent booster targets current variants as well as the ancestral strain,” she explained.

Imlay also expressed that people who have received previous Covid-19 boosters should remain well protected, but it’s important to note that “the new bivalent boosters are authorized to be taken at least two months after one’s most recent vaccine dose, regardless of how many boosters a person received.” 

“Spacing out one’s vaccine doses and infection helps increase protection against the disease. If you’ve had a recent COVID-19 infection, it may be best to wait at least three months before receiving the bivalent booster. You’ve got a lot of immune priming from your infection, you get a lot of immune priming from your most recent vaccine dose, so wait some time before getting the bivalent booster,” Imlay recommends. 

The US is still very much coping with the Covid-19 pandemic, according to Imlay there’s an average of 70,000 new cases and 500 deaths a day throughout the nation. 

“That said, a lot of policy decisions and choices that we as a population have made has really transitioned this to being a large-scale public health response to a response that hopefully is more sustainable and kind of has turned to the endemic model, the country will continue to see high numbers of cases,” she explained.

therapist

US Task Force Recommends All Adults Under 65 Be Screened for Anxiety

The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force recommended that all physicians screen adult patients under 65 for anxiety. The move was motivated by the country’s mental health epidemic in the wake of the pandemic.

The USPSTF is a panel of medical experts appointed by the Department of Health and Human Services. The panel said the recommendation was brought forward to prevent mental health disorders from going undetected or untreated for a long time. Over the last few years, people were more stressed and depressed, and anxiety levels went through the roof.

Between August 2020 to February 2021, adults with symptoms of anxiety or depression increased from 36.4% to 41.5%. According to the World Health Organization, anxiety and depression increased by 25% worldwide. In 2021, 1 in 4 adults aged 18 to 44 received treatment for mental health.

The task force recognizes anxiety as “characterized by greater duration or intensity of a stress response over everyday events.”

Clinical psychologist Dr. Lori Pbert, who is on the task force, says that Americans have been remarkably stressed out after a series of stressors like COVID-19, inflation, death of loved ones, fear of illness and crime rates. According to the NYTimes and CNN, Dr. Pbert said, “our only hope is that our recommendations throw a spotlight on the need to create greater access to mental health care — and urgently.”

“Our hope is that by raising awareness of these issues and having recommendations for clinicians, that we’ll be able to help all adults in the United States, including those who experience disparities.”

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The task force lists generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, and agoraphobia under the umbrella of anxiety conditions and recommends screening those who are not already diagnosed with a disorder. The panel also recommended that adults be screened for depression.

Mental health providers appreciated the recommendations but acknowledged that while screening tools are helpful, they are not a diagnosis, and subsequent testing is required to determine if an individual has a clinical disorder. A one-time screening may only be indicative of a temporary stressor. Providers also spoke on the lack of resources to address the issue on a wide scale.

Dr. Jeffrey Staab, a psychiatrist and chair of the department of psychiatry and psychology at Mayo Clinic, said the country is “short on mental health resources on all levels — psychiatrists, psychologists and therapists — that’s a real concern.”

“When providers say, ‘You must have a disorder, here, take this,’ we could face an overprescribing problem, but the opposite scenario is that we have lots of people suffering who shouldn’t be. Both outcomes are possible.”

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Dr. Pbert also said the task force’s research showed that people from minority groups are often overlooked in mental health research, contributing to continued systemic inequality both in and outside the medical field.

The primary care practice is currently a missed opportunity for screening. Black and Hispanic people are less likely to be treated for mental health conditions than white people and are more often misdiagnosed when they do receive care. Dr. Pbert said standardized screenings might help reduce those statistics by removing other factors like implicit bias.

The USPSTF made a similar recommendation for children earlier in the year. The task force set the age range to 65 and younger because older adults may produce positive screening results due to the natural aging effects such as fatigue and generalized pain.

The panel will finalize the draft after reviewing public comments and notes submitted before the Oct. 17 deadline. Though the recommendation is not mandatory, many physicians use the panel’s guidance to improve their standard of care.

polio

New York Declares State of Emergency After Finding Polio Virus in Wastewater

New York declared a state of emergency Friday after detecting polio virus in Long Island wastewater. The discovery in Nassau County, Long Island, signals a more extensive virus spread within the state’s population.

In July, Rockland County confirmed the first case of polio in the United States since 1993. The county is less than 50 miles from New York City. Officials began testing waters in surrounding counties shortly after and found the virus in Orange and Sullivan counties’ wastewater.

State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T Basset warns that one observed case of the paralytic disease usually signals hundreds of asymptomatic infected individuals. Even if an infected individual is asymptomatic, they may be contagious for days to weeks.

“Based on earlier polio outbreaks, New Yorkers should know that for every one case of paralytic polio observed, there may be hundreds of other people infected.”

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Polio is highly contagious. If infected, most people will have mild or no symptoms. A smaller percentage of infected individuals may develop more severe symptoms that affect the brain and spinal cord. According to the state’s health department, “New Yorkers should know that paralysis is the most severe symptom associated with polio because it can lead to permanent disability and death.”

The World Health Organization states that one in 200 infections leads to irreversible paralysis. Among the most vulnerable are children under five, who comprise a large percentage of the infected population.

Gov. Kathy Hochul signed an executive order Friday to expand the medical personnel who can administer the vaccine. EMS workers, midwives and pharmacists will be able to vaccinate individuals. Health care providers will also need to send immunization data to the New York State Department of Health so that officials can determine which counties are at the most risk and have the highest vaccine demand.

Officials are urging the public to vaccinate if they have not already done so. Dr. Basset told the public Friday, “do not wait to vaccinate” and “on polio, we simply cannot roll the dice.”

“If you or your child are unvaccinated or not up to date with vaccinations, the risk of paralytic disease is real.”

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Children can be vaccinated if they are two months or older. The statewide polio vaccination rate sits at around 79%. The counties with contaminated wastewater all had lower rates of vaccinations, and the confirmed case in July was in an unvaccinated adult.

Polio spreads through person-to-person contact. In the 1940s, polio disabled an average of more than 35,000 individuals and caused 15,000 cases of paralysis a year. Due to a widespread vaccine campaign beginning in 1955, polio cases fell to less than 100 in the 1960s.

People most susceptible to infection are those who never had the polio vaccine, who never completed the vaccine regimen or those who will be traveling to areas that could put them at a high risk of catching the virus.