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Weekly News Round Up - October 5, 2011

“Magic Mushroom” Psilocybin Found to Induce Positive Personality Change

Hallucinogenic compound psilocybin escalates an individual’s sense of “openness” with effects lasting over one year Read More...

In a study partially funded by the US National Institute on Drug Abuse, the hallucinogenic compound psilocybin, often referred to on the street as “magic mushrooms”, led to a sustained positive personality change in healthy volunteers. After baseline personality tests, participants received a one-time psilocybin dose in two to five experimental sessions lasting eight hours. Certain personality domains, such as neuroticism, extroversion, and agreeableness remained unchanged in post-experimental testing. “Openness” increased significantly in roughly 60 percent of volunteers and remained that way over a 14-month period. Historically, personality traits have been thought to be unchangeable. Psilocybin is also being studied in depression, anxiety and smoking cessation.

Surgery or Medicine? Acid Reflux Treatments Appear Similar in Efficacy

Study suggests neither surgery nor drug treatment superior for gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) Read More...

With the holidays rapidly approaching, it may be a good time to revisit gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) treatments. While most patients do not need surgery, for those who do a new report from U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality confirms that proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) appear to be equivalent to fundoplication surgery (surgery to reduce back-up of acid into the esophagus). PPIs (e.g., esomeprazole, lansoprazole, omeprazole) tended to be more effective than histamine-2-receptor antagonists (e.g., cimetidine, famotidone). Surgery resulted in more severe side effects such as infections and difficulty swallowing. Overall, researchers suggest in the absence of a definitive standard, GERD therapy should be an individual decision made between patient, gastroenterologist and surgeon.

Timelines for Kids Vaccine Administration Altered by Parents

U.S. Study: 1 in 10 parents modified recommended vaccine guidelines, either skipping or delaying shots Read More...

Childhood vaccines are a given for most kids, starting in infancy and continuing through adolescence. A study in Pediatrics reports that some parents, roughly one out of ten, make a decision to alter their children’s vaccination schedule, either by delaying the vaccine or skipping it outright. Altering vaccination schedules may result in heightened outbreaks of diseases normally amenable to vaccines, such as measles, mumps and whooping cough. Thirteen percent of parents surveyed used an alternate schedule, over half of these skipped or delayed vaccines until their child was older, and two percent of all survey participants refused childhood vaccines all together.

Cytisine: A Cheaper Alternative to Common Nicotine-Replacement Therapies

Cytisine (Tabex): a cost-effective smoking cessation aid shown to help smokers quit Read More...

Kicking the habit is priceless in terms of boosting health, but smoking cessation treatments can be a costly venture. A study in the New England Journal of Medicine reports that cytisine (Tabex), a smoking cessation aid, has been available in Eastern European countries for decades. In a group of 740 smokers, 8.4 percent of those receiving cytisine for 4 weeks were still not smoking after one year, compared to 2.4 percent in the placebo group. Cytisine, not approved in the US, could be a lower cost alternative to Chantix and Zyban. Globally, cytisine would be an affordable treatment in poor countries. Interestingly, both Chantix (varenicline) and cytisine block the same α4β2 nicotinic acetylcholine receptors.

Use of ADHD Meds Continue to Rise: Adolescents Account for Much of Increase

ADHD drug treatment in adolescents has more than doubled in past 12 years Read More...

A study conducted by the U.S. National Institutes of Health finds that use of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) drugs in adolescents increased from 2.3 percent in 1996 to 4.9 percent in 2008. Researchers explain the increase is from a better understanding that ADHD treatment may be needed through adolescence and into adulthood. Use of ADHD drugs in preschoolers age 5 and under fell from 3 out of 1000 in 1996 to 1 in 1000 in 2008. Overall, roughly 2.8 million U.S. children received an ADHD prescription, such as Ritalin (methylphenidate) or Adderall (dextroamphetamine/amphetamine), in 2008.