Monday, December 31, 2012

Spooked Sleeping? Identifying Nightmares and Their Causes

You wake up, panting, from a deep sleep. You went to work naked. You fell into a bottomless pit. You got swept into a tornado, and then fought off a wicked witch and flying monkeys in an unfruitful trek to Oz. If any of this sounds familiar, join the club. Research suggests that more than 85 percent of adults occasionally experience nightmares—at least once a month for 8 to 29 percent, and once a week for 2 to 6 percent. If you're someone who snoozes peacefully through the night, understand that nightmares are no ordinary dreams. They're "vivid, disturbing dreams, with an emotional connection that tends to wake us up," says Matthew Mingrone, an otolaryngologist and lead physician for EOS Sleep California centers.
If your slumber resembles a bad horror movie, learning about your nightmares and why they happen may help you sleep better.

Nightmares vs. Sleep Terrors
First, recognize that nightmares are not night terrors. The latter, also known as sleep terrors, happen earlier in sleep, during a non-rapid eye movement (REM) stage. Typically, you'd wake up in the first 90 minutes of sleep, perhaps panicked and yelling, with a much fuzzier memory of the dream than you'd have after a nightmare. Your heart rate may jump to 180 beats per minute during night terrors, says Tore Nielsen, director of the Dream and Nightmare Laboratory and a psychiatry professor at the University of Montreal. He adds that folks with night terrors can be destructive when they wake up—by fighting or jumping from windows—and yet, they often don't remember the episode later.

If the idea of sleep terrors sounds, well, nightmarish, at least it's only a reality for about 4 or 5 percent of adults. For the 85 percent of us who get plain old nightmares, you know the drill. "Nightmares occur primarily in the last third of the night, when your REM sleep is the strongest," Nielsen says. So if you go to bed at 10, a night terror would wake you with a fright around 11:30 p.m., whereas a nightmare would haunt you closer to 6 a.m. Sometimes nightmares wake us up, and sometimes they don't, but we can almost always remember the nightmare's plot to some extent.
What Causes Nightmares, and Who Gets Them?
"There are post-traumatic dreams, and there are idiopathic ones, which means we really don't know where they come from," says Nielsen. "It hasn't been scientifically documented very well." Generally, idiopathic nightmares don't reflect traumas, but perhaps intra-personal relationships, like those with spouses or parents, Nielsen adds.
Stress and anxiety can also lead to nightmares, says Mingrone. Job losses, break-ups, failed tests—although they're not considered traumas per say, these stressful events can all trigger a bout of bad dreams.

Nightmares have also been linked to certain medications, specifically those that affect neurotransmitter levels, such as antidepressents, narcotics, or barbiturates, according to a 2000 report in American Family Physician. People with depression, those relapsing from schizophrenia, and those experiencing withdrawal from alcohol and sedative-hypnotics may also face a higher risk.
There's another crew of nightmare-prone people that the report mentions: "Creative persons who demonstrate 'thin boundaries' on psychologic tests." Nielsen deciphers: "For some people, their mental boundaries are thinner in that they have much more access to their imaginative and emotional lives."
Getting Back to Sleep (If You Can)
"I don't think you can get back to sleep immediately, because you might be emotionally aroused quite a bit, or afraid," says Nielsen, adding that, if you do try to reclaim a few zzz's, evoke whatever relaxation techniques you know, like deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation. Or "meditate on positive experiences," Mingrone suggests.

If it's clear you're too wound up to fall back asleep anytime soon, it may be best to get up for a half hour or so. "It couldn't hurt to write down the nightmare so you can reflect on it later," Nielsen says, or "try to re-script the nightmare so it's more to your liking."

Only about five percent of adults have a clinical problem with nightmares, in that the dreams are so frequent and/or severe that they seek help. "It's really a question of how much distress it's causing," Nielsen says. If the nightmares are regularly disturbing your sleep, then you should probably visit a sleep clinic, where specialists can diagnose if your only problem is nightmares, or if you have something more serious, like sleep apnea.
"Sleep deprivation is like having a loan out from the bank," says Mingrone. "You've got to pay the sleep debt back."

For some, relief may come not from a sleep clinic, but from a psychologist's office. "The best way to avoid nightmares is to deal with any underlying anxiety problems," Nielsen says. The deep dark secret; the car crash that scarred you; the wicked aunt-turned witch—if these stressors are seeping into your dreams and disrupting precious REM sleep, it may be worth hashing it out consciously, with a specialist.
At the end of the day, or rather, at the end of the scary night, most people don't need or want treatment for nightmares. In fact, many don't mind them. "Often people come in and say [their nightmares] are a source of creativity or they're quite interested in them." Nielsen says. "They don't want to lose them."


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Monkeys Born From Stem Cells

The birth of three monkeys from a stem cell research program is being hailed as a major breakthrough in genetic engineering. It appears that the mouse stem cells widely used in studies, follow a different developmental process, that was previously thought to be identical to primate and human.

Scientists have opened a window to a new strategy, and one which has seemed out of reach for more than ten years. Now it is possible for cloning primate and even human stem cells, into living breathing organisms.

The monkeys were all male and appear to be healthy. The work, by developmental biologist Masahito Tachibana of the Oregon National Primate Research Center, was reported in the journal 'Cell'.

Instead of using embryonic stem cells cultured from lines of cells grown in petri dishes, the researchers used early-stage stem cells taken directly from monkey four-cell embryos to create 10 chimeric, or genetically mixed, embryos. The cells were combined from the early stage embryos, so the DNA was mixed, and the fetuses were incubated in female monkeys.

Three out of the four survived full term and are currently between four and six months old. They carry mixed DNA from six different genetic lineages. Genetically, it's as if they had as many as six parents, an impossibility naturally.

More interestingly, although they have both male and female DNA, they are all developing as males, because masculine genes have dominated the monkeys development.

The three rhesus monkeys, named Chimero, Roku and Hex, are said to be normal and healthy.

The researchers were able to make monkey chimeras only when they mixed cells from very early stage embryos, in which each individual embryonic cell was "totipotent". That means the cells are capable of growing into a whole animal as well as the placenta and other life-sustaining tissues.

It seems that scientists made a mistake by assuming that mimouse development would mirror human or primate development. The study also suggests that cultured primate and human embryonic stem cells, some of which have been frozen in labs for as long as two decades, may not be as potent as those found inside a living embryo.

Dr. Mitalipov one of the team members said :

"We cannot model everything in the mouse ... If we want to move stem cell therapies from the lab to clinics and from the mouse to humans, we need to understand what these primate cells can and can't do.
The work with stem cells is one of the holy grails of genetic engineering because it holds the possibility to grow new body parts, including replacement organs, and initially new nerve fibres for those who have suffered paralysis. It also bodes well for curing Parkinson's disease.


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

What Are The Top 10 Healthy Foods?

Imagine a selection of foods that were delicious, nutritious and good for you - i.e. they reduced your risk of developing diseases. According to several different surveys and sources in North America and Western Europe, the following ten foods are generally considered to be the most healthy.

1) Apples

Apples are an excellent source of antioxidants, which combat free radicals, damaging substances generated in the body that cause undesirable changes and are involved in the aging process and some diseases.

Some animal studies have found that an antioxidant found in apples (polyphenols) might extend lifespans. Tests on fruit flies found that polyphenols also help them to preserve their ability to walk, climb and move about.

Another study found that adult females who regularly ate apples had a 13% to 22% lower risk of developing heart disease.

Fuji apple
"An apple a day keeps the doctor away" is not just an old expression that rhymes

A recent article on the health benefits of apples:
"An Apple A Day Keeps The Grim Reaper Away"

2) Almonds

Almonds are rich in nutrients, including iron, calcium, vitamin E, fiber, riboflavin, and magnesium. A scientific review published in Nutrition Reviews last year found that almonds as a food may help maintain healthy cholesterol levels. The authors wrote:

"The message that almonds, in and of themselves, are a heart-healthy snack should be emphasized to consumers. Moreover, when almonds are incorporated into a healthy, balanced diet, the benefits are even greater."

The fatty acid profile of almonds, which is made up of 91-94% unsaturated fatty acids, may partly explain why it helps maintain healthy cholesterol levels. Almonds also have the highest fiber content of any tree nut.

Sa almonds
Almonds have more fiber than any other tree nut

A recent article on the health benefits of almonds:
"Research Review Suggests Almonds Contain Nutrients That Provide Cardioprotective Effects"

3) Broccoli

Broccoli is rich in fiber, folate, potassium, calcium and phytonutrients. Phytonutrients are compounds which reduce the risk of developing heart disease, diabetes and some cancers. Broccoli also contains beta-carotene, an antioxidant, as well as vitamin C.

Broccoli and cross section edit
Boiling broccoli for too long can destroy much of its vital nutrients

If the enzyme myrosinase is not destroyed during cooking, broccoli can also reduce the risk of developing cancer. The best way to cook broccoli and to preserve the myrosinase is to steam the vegetable lightly - if it is overcooked, and the vegetable's beneficial effects can be seriously undermined, researchers from the University of Illinois wrote in the peer-reviewed journal Nutrition and Cancer.

The researchers said that adding broccoli to a meal can often double its anticancer properties.

Another ingredient, sulforphane, which exists in broccoli, is also said to have anti-cancer as well as anti-inflammatory qualities. However, overcooking can destroy most of the benefits.

Broccoli powder does not contain myrosinase.

4) Blueberries

Blueberries are rich in phytonutrients, antioxidants and fiber.

According to a study carried out at Harvard Medical School, elderly people who eat plenty of blueberries (and strawberries) are less likely to suffer from cognitive decline, compared to other people of their age who do not.

Blueberries were found in another study carried out by scientists at Texas Woman's University, to help in curbing obesity. Plant polyphenols, which are abundant in blueberries, have been shown to reduce the development of fat cells (adipogenesis), while inducing the breakdown of lipids and fat (lipolysis).
Blueberries may help in controlling body weight

Regular blueberry consumption can reduce the risk of suffering from hypertension (high blood pressure) by 10%, because of the berry's bioactive compounds, anthocyanins, scientists from East Anglia University, England, and Harvard University, USA reported in the American Journal of Nutrition.

Blueberry consumption has also been associated with a lower risk of artery hardening, and/or intestinal diseases. The fruit has also been linked to stronger bones in animal studies.

5) Oily fish

Examples of oily fish include salmon, trout, mackerel, herring, sardines and anchovies. These types of fish have oil in their tissues and around the gut. Their lean fillets contain up to 30% oil, specifically, omega-3 fatty acids. These oils are known to provide benefits for the heart, as well as the nervous system. Oily fish are also known to provide benefits for patients with inflammatory conditions, such as arthritis.

Oily fish also contain vitamins A and D.

Scientists at UCLA's Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center found that prostate cancer progression was significantly slowed when patients went on a low-fat diet with fish oil supplements.

Sardin from sardegna 1
Oily fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids

6) Leafy green vegetables

Studies have shown that a high intake of dark-leafy vegetables, such as spinach or cabbage may significantly lower a person's risk of developing diabetes type 2. Researchers from Leicester University, England, said that the impact of dark green vegetables on human health should be investigated further, after they gathered data from six studies.

Spinach, for example, is very rich in antioxidants, especially when uncooked, steamed or very lightly boiled. It is a good source of vitamins A, B6, C, E and K, as well as selenium, niacin, zinc, phosphorus, copper, folic acid, potassium, calcium, manganese, betaine, and iron.

Boiling spinach can significantly reduce its levels of good nutrients.

7) Sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes are rich in dietary fiber, beta carotene, complex carbohydrates, vitamin C, vitamin B6, as well as carotene (the pink, yellow ones).

The Center for Science in the Public Interest, USA, compared the nutritional value of sweet potatoes to other vegetables. The sweet potato ranked number one, when vitamins A and C, iron, calcium, protein and complex carbohydrates were considered.

Ipomoea batatas 006
Sweet potato roots are rich in fiber and several important nutrients

8) Wheat germ

Wheat germ is the part of wheat that germinates to grow into a plant - the embryo of the seed. Germ, along with bran, is commonly a by-product of the milling; when cereals are refined, the germ and bran are often milled out.

Wheat germ is high in several vital nutrients, such as vitamin E, folic acid (folate), thiamin, zinc, magnesium, phosphorus, as well as fatty alcohols and essential fatty acids.

Wheat germ is also a good source of fiber.

9) Avocados

Many people avoid avocados because of its high fat content; they believe that avoiding all fats leads to better health and easier-to-control body weight - this is a myth. Approximately 75% of the calories in an avocado come from fat; mostly monosaturated fat.

Weight-for-weight, avocadoes have 35% more potassium than bananas.

Avocados are also very rich in B vitamins, as well as vitamin K and vitamin E.

Avocados also have a very high fiber content of 25% soluble and 75% insoluble fiber.

Studies have shown that regular avocado consumption lowers blood cholesterol levels.

Avocado extracts are currently being studied in the laboratory to see whether they might be useful for treating diabetes or hypertension.

Researchers from Ohio State University found that nutrients taken from avocados were able to stop oral cancer cells, and even destroy some of the pre-cancerous cells.

10) Oatmeal

Oatmeal is meal made from rolled or ground oats, or porridge made from ground or rolled oats. In the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland, the term "porridge" or "porridge oats" are common terms for the breakfast cereal that is usually cooked.

Interest in oatmeal has increased considerably over the last twenty years because of its health benefits.

Studies have shown that if you eat a bowl of oatmeal everyday your blood cholesterol levels, especially if they are too high, will drop, because of the cereal's soluble fiber content. When findings were published in the 1980s, an "oat bran craze" spread across the USA and Western Europe. The oats craze dropped off in the 1990s.

In 1997, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) agreed that foods with high levels of rolled oats or oat bran could include data on their labels about their cardiovascular heart benefits if accompanied with a low-fat diet. This was followed by another surge in oatmeal popularity.

Oats is rich in complex carbohydrates, as well as water-soluble fiber, which slow digestion down and stabilize levels of blood-glucose.

Oatmeal porridge is very rich in B vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, folate, and potassium.

Coarse or steel-cut oats contain more fiber than instant varieties.


Friday, December 7, 2012

Tumors Continue Growing Even When Cells Get Old

Based on the knowledge that cancer cells grow indefinitely, the general belief is that senescence could act as a barrier against tumor growth and has the potential of being used as a cancer treatment.

According to findings published in the 19th January issue of the open-access journal PLoS Computational Biology, a collaboration between a cancer biologist from the University of Milano, Italy, and two physicists, from the National Research Council of Italy and from Cornell University, has shown that although cell senescence occurs spontaneously in melanoma cells, it does not stop their growth, which is sustained by a small population of cancer stem cells.

The study examines the association between melanoma and senescence, which is the normal process in which cells decline and eventually stop duplicating after reaching maturity.

The researchers observed the long-term evolution of melanoma cell populations by monitoring the number of senescent cells, and discovered a slowing in growth with the majority of the cells turning senescent after three months. However, growth did not stop and was eventually resumed at its initial rate until the senescent cells had nearly disappeared.

The researchers applied a mathematical model of the experimental data using the cancer stem cell hypothesis, in which a sub-group of cancer cells multiply indefinitely, and therefore remain unaffected by senescence. These cancer stem cells produce a larger population of cancer cells, which are only able to replicate a certain number of times. The results of the model achieved an indirect confirmation that cancer stem cells are present in melanoma, an issue that remains to be controversial in the cancer research community.

The researchers conclude that even though a large percentage of cancer cells are susceptible to senescence, inducing senescence is unlikely to provide a successful therapeutic strategy because these cells are not important for tumor growth. The say however, that the indirect evidence of cancer stem cells in melanoma could potentially enable the development of new strategies for the treatment of specific types of cancer.

However, the strong resistance to drug induced senescence that may be found in the cancer stem cells will present a major challenge. Based on this study, treatment of tumors would concentrate on targeting only these cancer stem cells, instead of every single cancerous cell.


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Monday, December 3, 2012

How Many Calories Should I Eat?

The number of calories people should eat each day depends on several factors, including their age, size, height, sex, lifestyle, and overall general health. A physically active 6ft 2in male, aged 22 years, requires considerably more calories than a 5ft 2ins sedentary woman in her 70s.

Recommended daily calorie intakes also vary across the world. According to the National Health Service (NHS), UK, the average male adult needs approximately 2,500 calories per day to keep his weight constant, while the average adult female needs 2,000. US authorities recommend 2,700 calories per day for men and 2,200 for women. It is interesting that in the UK, where people on average are taller than Americans, the recommended daily intake of calories is lower. Rates of overweight and obesity among both adults and children in the USA are considerably higher than in the United Kingdom.

The NHS stresses that rather than precisely counting numbers (calories), people should focus more on eating a healthy and well balanced diet, being physically active, and roughly balancing how many calories are consumed with the numbers burnt off each day.

According to the United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the average person's minimum calorie requirement per day globally is approximately 1,800 kilocalories.

Worldwide food consumption
Daily calorie consumption varies considerably around the world (countries in gray indicates "no data available")

What is the difference between calories and kilocalories?

Scientifically speaking, one kilocalorie is 1,000 calories. However, the term calorie in lay English has become so loosely used with the same meaning as kilocalorie, that the two terms have virtually merged. In other words, in most cases, a calorie and kilocalorie have the same meaning.

A kilocalorie is the amount of energy required to raise the temperature of 1 kilogram of water from 15° to 16° Celsius (centigrade) at one atmosphere.

A "small calorie" refers to the traditional scientific term of calorie, meaning one-thousandth of a kilocalorie.

Internationally, most nations talk about food energy in kJ (kilojoules). 1 kcal (kilocalorie) = 4.184 kJ.

In this article, the term "calorie" means the same as "kilocalorie" or "kcal".

Portion sizes

In industrialized nations and a growing number of emerging economies, people are consuming many more calories than they used to. Portion sizes in restaurants, both fast food ones as well as elegant places, are far greater today.

Comparing cheeseburger sizes over the last 20 years
The average cheeseburger in the USA 20 years ago had 333 calories, compared to the ones today with over 600 calories

The human body and energy usage

For the human body to remain alive, it requires energy. Approximately 20% of the energy we use is for brain metabolism. The majority of the rest of the body's energy requirements are taken up for the basal metabolic requirements - the energy we need when in a resting state, for functions such as the circulation of the blood and breathing.

If our environment is cold, our metabolism increases to produce more heat to maintain a constant body temperature. When we are in a warm environment, we require less energy.

We also require mechanical energy for our skeletal muscles for posture and moving around.

Respiration, or specifically cellular respiration refers to the metabolic process by which an organism gets energy by reacting oxygen with glucose to produce carbon dioxide, water and ATP energy. How efficiently energy from respiration converts into physical (mechanical) power depends on the type of food eaten, as well as what type of physical energy is used - whether muscles are used aerobically or anaerobically.

Put simply - we need calories to stay alive, even if we are not moving, and need calories to keep our posture and to move about.

How many calories do I need per day?

The Harris-Benedict equation, also known as the Harris-Benedict principle, is used to estimate what a person's BMR (basal metabolic rate) and daily requirements are. The person's BMR total is multiplied by another number which represents their level of physical activity. The resulting number is that person's recommended daily calorie intake in order to keep their body weight where it is.

This equation has limitations. It does not take into account varying levels of muscle mass to fat mass ratios - a very muscular person needs more calories, even when resting.

How to calculate your BMR
  • Male adults
    66.5 + (13.75 x kg body weight) + (5.003 x height in cm) - (6.755 x age) = BMR
    66 + ( 6.23 x pounds body weight) + ( 12.7 x height in inches ) - ( 6.76 x age) = BMR

  • Female adults
    55.1 + (9.563 x kg body weight) + (1.850 x height in cm) - (4.676 x age) = BMR
    655 + (4.35 x kg body weight) + (4.7 x height in inches) - (4.7 x age) = BMR

How much should I weigh?

As with how many calories you should consume each day, your ideal body weight depends on several factors, including your age, sex, bone density, muscle-fat ratio, and height.
  • BMI (Body Mass Index) - some say BMI is a good way of working out what you should weigh. However, BMI does not take into account muscle mass. A 100-metre Olympic champion weighing 200 pounds (about 91 kilograms), who is 6 feet (about 1mt 83cm) tall, who has the same BMI as a couch potato of the same height, is not overweight, while the couch potato is overweight.

  • Waist-hip ratio - this measurement is said to be more accurate at determining what your ideal weight should be, compared to BMI. However, waist-hip ratio does not properly measure an individual's total body fat percentage (muscle-to-fat ratio), and is also limited.

  • Waist-to-height ratio - this new way of determining ideal body weight is probably the most accurate one available today. It was presented by Dr. Margaret Ashwell, ex-science director of the British Nutrition Foundation, and team at the 19th Congress on Obesity in Lyon, France, on 12th May, 2012. It is also a very simple calculation; easy for lay people to work out.
Dr. Ashwell's team found that:

"Keeping your waist circumference to less than half your height can help increase life expectancy for every person in the world."

Put simply, to achieve and/or maintain your ideal body weight:
    "Keep your waist circumference to less than half your height."
If you are a 6ft (183cm) tall adult male, your waist should not exceed 36 inches (91 cm).
If you are a 5ft 4 inches (163 cm) tall adult female, your waist should not exceed 32 inches (81 cm)

How do I measure my waist? - according to the World Health Organization (WHO), you should place the tape-measure half-way between the lower rib and the iliac crest (the the pelvic bone at the hip).

Not all calories are the same, not all diets are the same

Simply counting calories, and ignoring what you put in your mouth might not lead to good health. Insulin levels will rise significantly more after consuming carbohydrates than after eating fats (no rise at all) or protein. Some carbohydrates, also known as carbs, get into the bloodstream in the form of sugar (glucose) much faster than others. Refined flour is a fast carb, while coarse oatmeal is slow. Slow-release carbs are better for body weight control and overall health than fast carbs.

A 500-calorie meal of fish/meat, salad, and some olive oil, followed by fruit, is much better for your health and will keep you from being hungry for longer than a 500-calorie snack of popcorn with butter or toffee.

A chef's salad
Taking 500 calories from this dish is much better for the health, preventing hunger, and maintaining a healthy body weight than the equivalent calories in popcorn with butter or toffee

There are several diets today which claim to help people lose or maintain their body weight. Some of them have been extremely successful and good for participants, but are notoriously difficult to adhere to long-term.


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Saturday, December 1, 2012

What are Blackheads? How to Get Rid of Blackheads

A blackhead, or open comedo is a wide opening on the skin with a blackened mass of skin debris covering the opening. Despite their name, some blackheads can be yellowish in color. A comedo is a widened hair follicle which is filled with skin debris (keratin squamae), bacteria and oil (sebum).

A closed comedo is a whitehead, while an open comedo is a blackhead. the plural of "comedo" is comedomes".

Blackheads are said to be the first stage of acne. They form before bacteria invade the pores of the patient's skin. A blackhead can develop into a pimple, which is also known as a papule or pustule.

Blackheads, and acne in general, usually develop after puberty, when hormone levels surge and reach the skin. The presence of higher levels of hormones in the skin triggers the stimulation of the sebaceous glands, which produce oily substances. The sebaceous glands produce too much oil in the pores, which accumulates and gets stuck. When the occluded oil is exposed to air it becomes black.

Several conditions and circumstances can cause blackheads, or make them worse, such as the use of topical oils and make up. Blackheads can affect people with any type of skin, but are generally more common in those with oily skin.

Blackheads on a man's nose

What are the causes of blackheads

The overproduction of oil is the main cause of the emergence of blackheads. This is likely to occur in a high proportion of humans during puberty. Spikes in hormone production can result in the high levels of DHT (dihydrotestosterone), a hormone which triggers overactivity in the oil glands, resulting in clogged pores.

Clean skin - if the skin is not cleaned properly, more blackheads can appear, especially during those milestones in life when they are more prevalent, such as puberty. Improperly cleaned skin makes it more likely that dead skin cells build up within the pores. The pore openings can become clogged, which accelerates the build up of oil inside - thus causing blackheads to form. However, many experts warn that dirt does not cause blackheads to form - which frequently confuses and frustrates patients. Blackheads are caused by oxidized oil, not dirt, experts add. Over-cleaning the skin can lead to irritation.

In some cases, blackheads can emerge if moisturizers, sun screens, make up, or foundations are overused.

In the majority of cases, blackhead susceptibility is not heredity, with the exception of some severe acnes.

Food does not cause acne - although parents and grandparents commonly tell their teenage offspring not to eat chocolates and greasy foods, because they think they encourage the formation of acne - they do not cause blackheads or make them worse. Some studies have pointed towards a link between some dairy products and acne, but the evidence is not compelling.

Stress - stress does not directly affect blackhead occurrence. However, stress and anxiety can cause people to pick at their blackheads and acne, which may make them worse. Put simply, the behaviors resulting from stress and anxiety may worsen acne symptoms, but not the stress/anxiety itself.

What are the treatment options for blackheads

Hormonal treatments - contraceptives have often been used for the treatment of blackheads and acne, often with good results.

Cleaning the skin - clean your face with a good cleanser, ideally, one for oily skin, such as a salicylic acid cleanser.

Medications - adapalene is a third-generation topical retinoid, used mainly in the treatment of mild to moderate acne. Many patients with blackheads have had good results. In the USA adapalene is available under brand name Differin, in three preparations - 0.1% cream, 0.1% gel, and 0.3% gel. Since 2010, it has also been available in the USA under the generic name Teva, (0.1% gel). Only the 0.1% cream and 0.1% gel forms are available in Europe.

UV exposure - exposing the skin to sunlight or ultra-violet light encourages it to peel, which helps unblock pores. Sunbathing or using sunbeds may help. However, it is important to discuss this with your doctor. Exposing skin to sunlight, if overdone, also raises the risk of burning and developing skin cancer.

Hair - greasy hair touching the face of your skin can spread infection and in some cases encourage the spread of blackheads and acne. Keeping your hair away from your face may help keep blackheads to a minimum.

Skin virus may fight blackheads and acne - a virus that lives on our skin seems to naturally seek out and destroy the bacteria responsible for blackheads and zits. Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh said that harnessing a virus that naturally preys on the bacteria that cause pimples could offer an extremely useful tool against this skin condition.

source :

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