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Category: Epidemiology

Recreational Cannabis Has Arrived in Minnesota. What Are Its Health Benefits, Risks?

Article Excerpt: Despite its use in medicine, cannabis is a cause for concern for some clinicians, especially when they consider the developing brains of children and young adults. It is also an understudied substance, due in part to its federal classification as a Schedule 1 drug, limiting what we know, scientifically, about its potential benefits and harms on the human body. “Cannabis is not one drug,” said Jacob Borodovsky, a senior research scientist at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth. “The cannabis plant itself, we’ve identified over 150 cannabinoid compounds that are present in the cannabis plant. THC and CBD are just two of those 150 or more identified compounds.” So, what do we know about cannabis and its health impacts?

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Article Source: Post Bulletin


‘Simple but Effective’: Colombia Turns to Algorithms to Bolster Mental Health Services

Article Excerpt: At the age of 70, Carmen Suárez* is finally coming to terms with an event that happened five decades ago. It was a trauma that changed the course of her life and left her with depression. “I used to cry uncontrollably,” she says. “I was told to seek help, but I had neither the time nor the money. I realise now that I was stuck reliving the incident.” Over the course of a year, the Diada project (detection and integrated care for depression and alcohol use), an innovative project aimed at identifying people with or at risk of developing a mental health or alcohol use disorder, helped her recover.

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Article Source: The Guardian


Extra Belly Fat at Midlife May Increase Risk of Disability Later in Life

Article Excerpt: Scientists in Norway looked at data from about 4,500 people age 45 or older at the study’s start for an average of 21 years, and discovered that individuals who had a high waist circumference measurement at the beginning were twice as likely to be frail or pre-frail (meaning at high risk of becoming frail) than people who started out with a normal waist size…. John Batsis, MD, an associate professor of geriatric medicine at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine in Chapel Hill also not involved with the new study, says excess belly fat can contribute to frailty. “Visceral fat promotes inflammation, which then has more widespread effects on other organs and one’s physiology — including muscle and changes in body composition, important alterations in skeletal muscle mass and strength. [These effects] often lead to frailty and mobility disability,” he says.

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Article Source: Everyday Health


Student Mental Health Declined at Start of Pandemic, Dartmouth Study Shows

Article Excerpt: A paper authored by Dartmouth researchers and published this month found that the COVID-19 pandemic increased symptoms of stress during the spring 2020 lockdown. The paper was based on data collected from 217 participants — members of the Class of 2021 — by a smartphone application called StudentLife… Computer science professor and senior paper author Andrew Campbell was motivated to determine whether mobile phones could be used to “predict” changes in mental health by tracking factors like sleep patterns and social interaction. According to Campbell, this study grew out of a desire to look at student experiences with mental health when they came to the “very competitive academic environment” at Dartmouth.

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Article Source: The Dartmouth


Real-Time Data Are Essential for COVID-19. They’re Just as Important for the Opioid Overdose Crisis

Article Excerpt: The public has benefited from seeing the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic in the moment. Although it is scary seeing the numbers of diagnoses and deaths rising day by day, these data help bring clarity and accountability to an ongoing crisis that requires both. It is time to bring this kind of real-time outcome data to America’s addiction crisis and make it available to the public. It’s the only way of knowing if what we’re doing to address the problem is making a difference.

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Article Source: Stat News


Despite Recent Downturn, Local Health Officials Still Concerned Over Vape Use Among Teens

Article Excerpt: The number of eighth-graders who admit vaping in the last 30 days rises every year, according to surveys by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Since 2016, the percentage has doubled. Last year, almost half the 12th-graders surveyed vaped, as well. University of Cincinnati Addiction Sciences assistant professor Dr. LaTrice Montgomery, whose research focuses on marijuana and tobacco co-use, said THC plays no small role.

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Article Source: WCPO Cincinnati

Weighing the Dangers of Cannabis

Article Excerpt: As many as 30% of people who use cannabis develop symptoms consistent with addiction. They develop cravings, damage relationships and give up other activities they once enjoyed, says Alan Budney, a clinical-research psychologist at the Dartmouth Geisel School of Medicine in Hanover, New Hampshire. They struggle to stop using the drug, and many experience withdrawal symptoms. Studies are mixed on how prevalent cannabis-use disorder is and whether it is becoming more common. But as cannabis becomes more readily available, one concern is that more people at risk of developing an addiction will try it. “It is important to make sure people realize that cannabis has some risk potential for addiction,” he says. “It can develop into a severe problem. It’s not easy to recover from.”

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Article Source: Nature Outlook. Link to full article also posted in Geisel School of Medicine News


Amid Opioid Crisis, Schumer Backs Bill to Fund High-Tech Screening Devices

Article Excerpt: U.S. Democratic Senator Charles Schumer was in the Hudson Valley Tuesday. He was there telling local police departments and elected officials that he will try to secure funding for high-tech detection tools in the battle against opioid addiction…The bill Schumer backs is called the POWER, or Providing Officers with Electronic Resources, Act.

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Article Source: WAMC Northeast Public Radio