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Posts Tagged ‘College London’

How just one joint could wreck your mental health

Cannabis causes mental illness and even one-off users show signs of behaviour linked to schizophrenia, pioneering research showed yesterday.

It found in tests on 22 healthy students and academics that half showed an ‘acute psychotic reaction’ when injected with the main active ingredient of the drug.

And it detected a series of similarities to symptoms of schizophrenia in their responses.

Dangerous: Research suggests cannabis is a primary cause of mental illness

The research, the first to try to chart exactly the impact of doses of cannabis on mental functions and mood, is one of the clearest indicators yet that the drug is a primary cause of mental illness.

It suggests that current Home Office advice to young people, which says that the drug is dangerous only to those who already have mental health problems, is misinformed and misleading.

Despite an overall decline in UK cannabis use over the past eight years, the number of under-25s to have tried the drug rose last year to nearly one in five.

The research team from the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College, London, injected the active ingredient of cannabis, THC, into 22 healthy university students and staff, observed their behaviour, and asked them to take tests and answer questionnaires?
Their report, published in the Psychological Medicine journal, said: ‘The findings confirm that THC can induce a transient, acute psychotic reaction in psychiatrically well individuals.’

The sentiments most commonly felt by the subjects included ‘people seem to be dropping hints about you or saying things with a double meaning’ and ‘you hear your own thoughts being echoed back to you’.

They noted that after the THC injections, the subjects showed ‘marked deficits in working memory and executive functioning and a trend towards impaired episodic memory’. All three are associated with schizophrenia.

As the results were seized on by campaigners for tougher drug laws, a Home Office spokesman said: ‘We have always said that cannabis is a harmful drug.’

The risk of getting skin cancer from sunbathing is overstated, say doctors

Warnings that too much sunshine can lead to the most deadly form of skin cancer have been over-emphasised, a study has claimed. 

It found that, although sunbathing is a risk factor, the number of moles on a person’s skin is the most important indicator of whether they will go on to develop melanoma. 

The scientists also identified two genes that dictate how many moles someone will have, and their risk of getting skin cancer.

Research suggests that genes rather than sunshine are the main cause of the cancer

The research, published in the journal Nature Genetics, is likely to reopen the debate over whether official health warnings about avoiding the sun are overstated and too general. 

The study’s authors said such warnings would be more useful if they focused on those most at risk – namely anyone with more than 100 moles on their body, redheads and people with fair skin – and taught them how to check their moles for changes in shape, size or colour. 

Although melanoma accounts for just 10 per cent of skin cancer cases in the UK, it is responsible for the most deaths, killing 1,500 a year. More than 9,500 Britons are diagnosed with the condition annually. 

Tim Spector, professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London, and one of the study’s authors, said: ‘The number of moles you have is one of the strongest risk factors for melanoma –stronger even than sunshine. This paper shows that we found two important genes that control the number of moles you have. 

‘Those genes also give you an extra risk of melanoma.’ 

Dr Veronique Bataille, a dermatologist at West Hertfordshire NHS Trust, added: ‘You often read that nearly all melanomas are caused by sunshine, which is not supported by the evidence. 

‘Let’s keep sunshine in the picture because it does make you age and causes you wrinkles. But let’s move away from scaring people by saying they are going to die because they go in the sun.’ 

Sara Hiom, of Cancer Research UK, said: ‘Everyone should be aware of changes in their moles and report anything worrying to their GP.’

Empty nest syndrome is a myth claim scientists

Parents of children who stay at home are more likely to suffer depression than those whose offspring move out, claim scientists in a study that seems to debunk “empty nest syndrome”

Depression was highest among parents of poorer families with all their children still living in the local area, thestudy showed

Researchers said that far from feeling abandoned and lonely, adults with their children living far away seemed happier and more content than those with sons and daughters still living at home or in the local community. 

They said that the parents of children who had fled the nest were often from more educated and affluent backgrounds and were proud of their offspring’s achievements.
Adults with “stay at home kids” on the other hand were associated with failed aspiration and inter family conflicts, it was discovered. 

Dr Melanie Abas, a psychiatrist at King’s College London and lead researcher, said the team was surprised at the findings. “A commonly held view is that out-migration of young people has starkly negative consequences for parents living in rural areas as they get older,” she said. 

“But our findings challenge the popular belief that family separation causes older parents to feel abandoned and lacking in support.” 

The study was carried out in villages in rural Thailand, and questioned more than 1,000 parents aged 60 and over. 

It found depression was less common among parents whose children lived further away, compared to parents whose children lived locally. 

Depression was highest among parents of poorer families with all their children still living in the local area, the study showed. 

Dr Abas suggested parents whose children left home tended to be better educated. They were also more likely to be younger, married and still working. 

She said each of these factors reduced the risk of depression. 

In contrast, having fewer children migrate could be linked to failed aspirations, increasing the risk of family conflict and depression, researchers said. 

Many parents in Thailand rely on their offspring for money – and children who leave home are more likely to be able to send money to support their family, reducing the risk of the depression, the study found. 

While the research was carried out in Thailand, the findings are thought to be universal, particularly where children leave a rural home and move to the city. 

Dr Abas said: “While there are obvious difference between Britain and Thailand there are also similarities. In both countries the families are aspirational for their children and in both countries the children leave villagers to move to the cities. 

“What is surprising is that when all the children move out, you would think the parents would feel desperate but they seem to be holding up very well.”