Nerve Cells Discovery Lets Researchers Scratch Itchy Mystery
A new study in mice shows that the urge to itch is triggered by specific itch-causing nerve cells, BBC News reports. Many researchers had deemed the itch sensation a lesser form of pain, but the findings, published in Science, suggest that itch and pain are transmitted along separate neuronal pathways in the spinal cord, according to BBC News. After getting rid of mice itch cells, researchers found that the animals still responded to pain. The findings may help scientists develop new itch treatments, although at least one expert thinks there could be other pathways that transmit itch and pain together, BBC News reports.
Three Lousy Reasons to Consider an Antidepressant Medication
New research shows that Americans have become increasingly accepting of psychiatric medications such as antidepressants, the use of which is on the rise. For some people, the drugs are essential. But others appear to use antidepressants for reasons that experts say may be unwise, U.S. News's Lindsay Lyon reports.
A study of Americans' opinions on psychiatric medications appears in the current issue of Psychiatric Services. In comparing the opinions of 1,387 survey respondents in 1998 with those of 1,437 respondents in 2006, researchers found that people appear to be increasingly willing to take antidepressants and other psychiatric medications for symptoms of depression and panic attacks but also for "very common distressing experiences" that are not psychiatric disorders. People often take antidepressants—even though they may not help—to improve relations with friends and family, cope with routine stress, and raise self-esteem, the survey suggests. Participants believed, for example, that psychiatric medications help people to deal with day-to-day stresses and were willing to take them to cope with those. But unless there's some underlying psychiatric illness, "there's not much evidence that these medications help people deal with day-to-day stresses," says the study's lead author. Read more.
How Much Vitamin D Should You Be Taking?
New data from a government-run health and nutrition survey found that most kids aren't getting enough vitamin D and that those with the lowest levels are more likely to have high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and low levels of "good" HDL cholesterol. At a meeting convened Tuesday by the Institute of Medicine, leading vitamin D researchers mentioned this study and many others as they tried to convince an IOM committee to raise the daily recommended intake for the nutrient, U.S. News's Deborah Kotz reports.
Some experts consider the current recommendations—200 international units for children and adults up to age 50, 400 IUs for ages 50 to 70, and 600 IUs for those 70 and older—to be way too low to help us stay healthy. Hundreds of studies have shown that people with high levels of vitamin D in their blood have lower rates of diseases and a lower death rate. However, that doesn't prove—and there really aren't any clinical trials showing—that people can lower their risk of illness by taking a supplement to raise their vitamin D level, Kotz writes. Clinical trials involving vitamin D have yielded only a few promising results. Read more.
Last year, Kotz got an expert's advice on how much time in the sun is needed to make vitamin D. Read about how to make sure your kids get enough vitamin D and 5 reasons why women should still take vitamin D.
Other Popular Articles From USNews.com