Cancer Without Chemotherapy A Totally Different World

Dr. Seema Doshi was shocked and terrified when she found a lump in her breast that was eventually confirmed to be cancerous. “That rocked my world,” said Dr. Doshi, a dermatologist in private practice in the Boston suburb of Franklin who was 46 at the time of her diagnosis. “I thought, ‘That’s it. I will have to do chemotherapy.’”

She was wrong.

Dr. Doshi was the beneficiary of a quiet revolution in breast cancer treatment, a slow chipping away at the number of people for whom chemotherapy is recommended. Chemotherapy for decades was considered “the rule, the dogma,” for treating breast cancer and other cancers, said Dr. Gabriel Hortobagyi, a breast cancer specialist at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. But data from a variety of sources offers some confirmation of what many oncologists say anecdotally — the method is on the wane for many cancer patients.

Genetic tests can now reveal whether chemotherapy would be beneficial. For many there are better options with an ever-expanding array of drugs, including estrogen blockers and drugs that destroy cancers by attacking specific proteins on the surface of tumors. And there is a growing willingness among oncologists to scale back unhelpful treatments.

The result spares thousands each year from the dreaded chemotherapy treatment, with its accompanying hair loss, nausea, fatigue, and potential to cause permanent damage to the heart and to nerves in the hands and feet.

The diminution of chemotherapy treatment is happening for some other cancers, too, including lung cancer, the most common cause of cancer deaths among men and women in the United States, killing about 132,000 Americans each year. Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths among women, killing 43,000.

Still, the opportunity to avoid chemotherapy is not evenly distributed, and is often dependent on where the person is treated and by whom.

But for some patients who are lucky enough to visit certain cancer treatment centers, the course of therapy has changed. Now, even when chemotherapy is indicated, doctors often give fewer drugs for less time.

“It’s a totally different world,” said Dr. Lisa Carey, a breast cancer specialist at the University of North Carolina.

Dr. Robert Vonderheide, a lung cancer specialist who heads the University of Pennsylvania’s Abramson Cancer Center, remembers his early days on the job, about 20 years ago.

“The big discussion was, Do you give patients two different types of chemotherapy or three?” he said. There was even a clinical trial to see whether four types of chemotherapy would be better.

“Now we are walking in to see even patients with advanced lung cancer and telling them, ‘No chemo,’” Dr. Vonderheide said.

The breast cancer treatment guidelines issued by the National Cancer Institute 30 years ago were harsh: chemotherapy for about 95 percent of patients with breast cancer.

The change began 15 years ago, when the first targeted drug for breast cancer, Herceptin, was approved as an initial treatment for about 30 percent of patients who have a particular protein on their tumor surface. It was given with chemotherapy and reduced the chance of a recurrence by half and the risk of dying from breast cancer by a third, “almost regardless of how much and what type of chemotherapy was used,” Dr. Hortobagyi said.

In a few studies, Herceptin and another targeted drug were even given without chemotherapy, and provided substantial benefit, he added.

That, Dr. Hortobagyi said, “started to break the dogma” that chemotherapy was essential. But changing cancer therapies was not easy. “It is very scary,” to give fewer drugs, Dr. Hortobagyi said.

“It is so much easier to pile on treatment on top of treatment,” he continued, “with the promise that ‘if we add this it might improve your outcome.’”

But as years went by, more and more oncologists came around, encouraged by new research and new drugs.

The change in chemotherapy use is reflected in a variety of data collected over the years. A study of nearly 3,000 women treated from 2013 to 2015 found that in those years, chemotherapy use in early-stage breast cancer declined to 14 percent, from 26 percent. For those with evidence of cancer in their lymph nodes, chemotherapy was used in 64 percent of patients, down from 81 percent.

More recent data, compiled by Dr. Jeanne Mandelblatt, a professor of medicine and oncology at Georgetown, and her colleagues, but not yet published, included 572 women who were 60 or older and enrolled in a federal study at 13 medical centers. Overall, 35 percent of older women received chemotherapy in 2012. That number fell to 19 percent by the end of 2019.

Cheaper and faster genetic sequencing has played an important role in this change. The technology made it easier for doctors to test tumors to see if they would respond to targeted drugs. Genetic tests that looked at arrays of proteins on cancer cells accurately predicted who would benefit from chemotherapy and who would not.

There are now at least 14 new targeted breast cancer drugs on the market — three were approved just last year — with dozens more in clinical trials and hundreds in initial development.

Some patients have reaped benefits beyond avoiding chemotherapy. The median survival for women with metastatic breast cancer who are eligible for Herceptin went from 20 months in the early 1990s, to about 57 months now, with further improvements expected as new drugs become available. For women with tumors that are fed by estrogen, the median survival increased from about 24 months in the 1970s to almost 64 months today.

Now some are in remission 10 or even 15 years after their initial treatment, Dr. Hortobagyi said.

“At breast cancer meetings, a light bulb went off. ‘Hey, maybe we are curing these patients,’” Dr. Hortobagyi said.

Dr. Doshi’s oncologist, Dr. Eric Winer of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, gave her good news: A genetic test of her tumor indicated she would not get any significant benefit from chemotherapy. Hormonal therapy to deprive her cancer of the estrogen that fed it would suffice.

But as much as Dr. Doshi dreaded chemotherapy, she worried about forgoing it. What if her cancer recurred? Would chemotherapy, awful as it is, improve her outcome?

She got a second opinion.

The doctor she consulted advised a “very aggressive” treatment, Dr. Doshi said — a full lymph node dissection followed by chemotherapy.

She had multiple conversations with Dr. Winer, who ended up discussing her case with four other specialists, all of whom recommended against chemotherapy.

Finally, Dr. Doshi said, “my husband said I should just pick a horse and run with it.” She trusted Dr. Winer.

Her struggles mirror what oncologists themselves go through. It can take courage to back off from chemotherapy.

One of the most difficult situations, Dr. Winer said, is when a patient has far more advanced disease than Dr. Doshi did — hers had spread to three lymph nodes but no further — and is not a candidate for one of the targeted treatments. If such a patient has already had several types of chemotherapy, more is unlikely to help. That means there is no treatment.

It falls to Dr. Winer to tell the patient the devastating news.

Dr. Susan Domchek, a breast cancer specialist at the University of Pennsylvania, can relate to those struggles.

“It is the nature of being an oncologist to be perpetually worried that you are either overtreating or undertreating a patient,” she said.

“Some cases keep me up at night,” she said, “specifically the cases where the risks and benefits of chemotherapy are close, yet the stakes still feel so high.”

When Dr. Roy Herbst of Yale started in oncology about 25 years ago, nearly every lung cancer patient with advanced disease got chemotherapy.

With chemotherapy, he said, “patients would be sure to have one thing: side effects.” Yet despite treatment, most tumors continued to grow and spread. Less than half his patients would be alive a year later. The five-year survival rate was just 5 to 10 percent.

Those dismal statistics barely budged until 2010, when targeted therapies began to emerge. There are now nine such drugs for lung cancer patients, three of which were approved since May of this year. About a quarter of lung cancer patients can be treated with these drugs alone, and more than half who began treatment with a targeted drug five years ago are still alive. The five-year survival rate for patients with advanced lung cancer is now approaching 30 percent.

But the drugs eventually stop working for most, said Dr. Bruce Johnson, a lung cancer specialist at Dana-Farber. At that point many start on chemotherapy, the only option left.

Another type of lung cancer treatment was developed about five years ago — immunotherapy, which uses drugs to help the immune system attack cancer. Two-thirds of patients from an unpublished study at Dana-Farber were not eligible for targeted therapies but half of them were eligible for immunotherapy alone, and others get it along with chemotherapy.

Immunotherapy is given for two years. With it, life expectancy has almost doubled, said Dr. Charu Aggarwal, a lung cancer specialist at the University of Pennsylvania.

Now, said Dr. David Jackman of Dana-Farber, chemotherapy as the sole initial treatment for lung cancer, is shrinking, at least at that cancer treatment center, which is at the forefront of research. When he examined data from his medical center he found that, since 2019, only about 12 percent of patients at Dana-Farber got chemotherapy alone, Dr. Jackman said. Another 21 percent had a targeted therapy as their initial treatment, and among the remaining patients, 85 percent received immunotherapy alone or with chemotherapy.

In contrast, in 2015, only 39 out of 239 patients received a targeted therapy as their initial treatment. The rest got chemotherapy.

Dr. Aggarwal said she was starting to witness something surprising — some who had received immunotherapy are still alive, doing well, and have no sign of cancer five years or more after their initial treatment.

She said: “I started out saying to patients, ‘I will treat you with palliative intent. This is not curative.’”

Now some of those same patients are sitting in her clinic wondering if their disease is gone for good.

Chong H. Hammond’s symptoms were ambiguous — a loss of appetite and her weight had dropped to 92 pounds.

“I did not want to look at myself in the mirror,” she said.

It took from October 2020 until this March before doctors figured it out. She had metastatic lung cancer.

Then Dr. Timothy Burns, a lung cancer specialist at the University of Pittsburgh, discovered that Mrs. Hammond, who is 71 and lives in Gibsonia, Pa., had a tumor with two unusual mutations.

Although a drug for patients with Mrs. Hammond’s mutations has not been tested, Dr. Burns is an investigator in a clinical trial involving patients like her.

He offered her the drug osimertinib, which is given as a pill. This allowed her to avoid chemotherapy.

Ten days later she began feeling better and started eating again. She had energy to take walks. She was no longer out of breath.

Dr. Burns said her lung tumors are mostly gone and tumors elsewhere have shrunk.

If Mrs. Hammond had gotten chemotherapy, her life expectancy would be a year or a little more, Dr. Burns said. Now, with the drug, it is 38.6 months.

Dr. Burns is amazed by how lung cancer treatment has changed.

“It’s been remarkable,” he said. “We still quote the one-year survival but now we are talking about survival for two, three, four or even five years. I even have patients on the first targeted drugs that are on them for six or even seven years.”

Mark Catlin, who is being treated at Dana-Farber, is one of those patients.

On March 8, 2014, Mr. Catlin, who has never smoked, noticed a baseball-size lump under his arm. “The doctors told me to hope for anything but lung,” he said.

But lung it was. It had already spread under his arm and elsewhere.

Oncologists in Appleton, Wis., where he lives, wanted to start chemotherapy.

“I was not a fan,” Mr. Catlin said. His son, who lives in the Boston area, suggested he go to Dana-Farber.

There, he was told he could take a targeted therapy but that it would most likely stop working after a couple of years. He is 70 now, and still taking the therapy seven years later — two pills a day, with no side effects.

He rides a bike 15 to 25 miles every day or runs four to five miles. His drug, crizotinib, made by Pfizer, has a list price of $20,000 a month. Mr. Catlin’s co-payment is $1,000 a month. But, he says, “it’s keeping me alive.” “It’s almost surreal,” Mr. Catlin said.

Gina Kolata

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Source: Cancer Without Chemotherapy: ‘A Totally Different World’ – The New York Times

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Seven Simple Steps To Sounder Sleep

Everything about our day impacts our sleep. How many minutes we spend outside, what and when we eat, what’s happening with our hormones, our habits, emotions, stress and thoughts – all this feeds into the sleep we end up with at night. All of which I was completely oblivious to when battling chronic insomnia for years on end.

Sleep anxiety can create a very real and vicious circle. I would spend hours lying in bed, increasingly wired, anxious and exhausted as time ticked by, with prescription sleeping pills within reach for those 3am nights when I had to be up first thing. The problem is that the more we worry about sleep, the higher our stress hormones go – and too much of the stress hormone cortisol, whatever the trigger, disturbs our sleep.

We’re left in a state of fight or flight, when we need to be in the opposite state of rest and digest. When my insomnia was at its worst, I’d start my day exhausted, running on empty, and have recurring burn-out days, where an overwhelming fatigue would stop me in my tracks, forcing me to lie down and recharge.

I realise now that the various sleep tips I tried over the years were like sticking plasters on a broken leg – there’s only so much that lavender, earplugs or herbal teas can do when your sleep is disrupted and out of control. Fortunately a eureka moment came along, when I was reading a book by my great great uncle, Richard Waters, a pioneer in cognitive therapy and clinical hypnosis and a protégé of the French pharmacist and self-help guru Emile Coué.

Waters wrote just a couple of pages about insomnia – how the words we use and having an understanding of sleep biology affects our mind, body and our sleep – but they were intriguing enough to set me thinking, researching and experimenting. I interviewed various experts and tried out all the sleep science and tactics I came across, while considering sleep in a much wider context than usual.

Waters also wrote a short, first-person sleep script, about what should be going on in the mind and body in the countdown to sleep. And I recorded myself reading this one-minute sleep script on my phone, which I listened to every day, when fixing my own insomnia and researching my book Teach Yourself to Sleep.

Listening to a sleep script allows us to harness the power of suggestion, using self-talk and clinical hypnosis to change our habitual thoughts, physiology and behaviour. I discussed this at length with clinical hypnosis expert Professor Peter Whorwell, whose hospital department at Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust creates bespoke scripts to help treat a wide range of disorders, including insomnia, phobias, pain and debilitating IBS symptoms, with a 75-80% success rate, where other treatments have failed.

Following the thread from Waters and Coué to now, and exploring the fascinating world of sleep, light and habit science, experimental psychology and more, it became clear that it pays to have a basic grasp of the biology and science of sleep and to appreciate the extraordinary power of the mind-body loop. Getting results that last makes life easier on so many levels – quality sleep not only improves our physical and mental health but also our energy levels, cognitive function and overall wellbeing.

I now instinctively remove obstacles that will get in the way of my sleep and set up sleep habit cues throughout my day. This means I can go to sleep without being up half the night, and wake up refreshed and able to get the most out of the following day. Here are seven sleep tips I used to dismantle my insomnia.

1) Stop calling yourself a bad sleeper!

Our words have an immediate effect on us physically and mentally – and you can see this in action if you consciously choose diametrically opposed words to describe the same situation. The words we choose alter our feelings, perceptions, hormones and behaviour, including our sleep.

There are some astounding studies on this and the mind-body loop, and how this can be manipulated to improve our health. As Professor Brooks of the Harvard Business School told me: “Our words codify and solidify our thoughts” – and, in turn, they change how we feel.

2) Embrace the biological fact that your body responds to too much light

Our body is hard-wired to line itself up with the light and dark of nature’s 24-hour clock. As with everything that influences your sleep, it makes all the difference if you’re aware of the simple biology taking place. In this instance, it’s understanding that the extremely light-sensitive cells in your eyes help keep your sleep-wake cycle turning as it should.

I use a light box on certain mornings, to give my office light some extra clout. At the other end of the day, a screen break before bed, moving away from bright, stay-wake signals and towards the darkness of night, helps boost sleep-inducing melatonin levels.

3) Weaken the negative fallout from stress

Stress is a huge sleep disrupter with nearly 50% of sleep issues blamed on stress. To help balance the body’s chemical cocktail in favour of sleep, it’s invaluable if we lean on science-based stress busters, to bring down our cortisol levels, which the pace, anxiety and overstimulation of modern life is forever increasing.

Effective stress busters I’ve found include “forest bathing”, aka walking among trees, as well as reframing my emotions and changing my perception of stress to weaken its hold. I regularly make use of these tactics among others if I feel my stress levels spiking during the day.

4) Know your DIY sleep habit science

Bad sleep habits, like any other, can be systematically intercepted and replaced with good ones, once you know how they take shape in the brain. Our bedroom is our sleep habit context, and making certain changes here, behavioural and content-wise, helps to break automatic sleep behaviour. Displacing negative rumination by listing the things you’re grateful for gets measurable results.

Another thing you can do is remove sleep-sabotaging cues from your bedroom (eg, work and screens), while loading in sleep-promoting cues (eg, sleep-inducing scents), to help new, desirable sleep habits stick.

5) Listen to a sleep script

Habitual thoughts set off a chain reaction that changes your emotions, body chemicals, behaviour, expectations and your sleep. A sleep script, which is a positive affirmation of how well your mind and body are preparing you for sleep, helps with this by gradually shifting your habitual sleep-related thoughts. This taps into the power of self-talk and clinical hypnosis, which are increasingly being explored by scientists, neuroscientists and medics.

Also, by listening to a sleep script during the day, you give yourself a moment to pause, creating a window for any stress to subside. I listened to myself reading a short sleep script daily, when sorting out my chronic insomnia and still rely on one as a very potent sleep habit cue.

6) Have an armchair offload

If your mind is full of worries, or all the jobs you need to do tomorrow/this week, have an armchair offload some time before bed, to let your mind think about it all and perhaps write it down. Ideally this would involve sitting in a relaxed space that isn’t your bedroom, giving you time to reflect before heading to bed, once the rush of the day, and/or TV shows are over.

Once again, it’s more impactful if you have an inkling of the biology and science going on. By giving yourself this time to think, or jot down any notes, what you’re really doing is moving worries or preoccupations from your brain’s emotional HQ, the amygdala, to your problem-solving pre-frontal cortex. What’s more, your brain will look for solutions while you dream.

7) Stare into the darkness of a pitch-black bedroom

Staring into the darkness last thing, while lying in bed, will help to increase your sleep-promoting melatonin levels, as the “hormone of sleep” is released at night when those light-sensitive photoreceptors in your eyes see that it’s dark out there.

Among other things, melatonin is also an immune system booster, so allowing your body to release as much of it as possible throughout your evening by avoiding too much bright light the closer you get to bed, is a plus in more ways than just enjoying easier, more restorative sleep.

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Source: Seven simple steps to sounder sleep | Life and style | The Guardian

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The COVID Vaccine For Kids Is Almost Here. Let’s Not Forget The Children Who Made This Possible

This week Pfizer and BioNTech said that their COVID-19 vaccine was safe for children aged 5 to 11. If approved by the FDA for emergency use, it could be ready for children as early as late October. Since the emergence of the delta variant, children have accounted for more than one in five new cases, and more children are hospitalized now, as a result of the coronavirus, than at any other time in the pandemic.

The concern and frustration surrounding relatively slow approval of treatment for kids under 12 years old is nothing new. For decades, kids with cancer have had to wait for trials to improve drug options and improve patient outcomes.

The call to do more, faster, has gone unanswered by drug companies who don’t invest in trials for a small number of unprofitable kids and by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), which allocates only 4% of its annual $6.56 billion budget to pediatric cancer and other rare diseases.

Less than 6% of our budget comes from government support. WBUR only exists because readers like you fund our quality reporting. Donate Now.

Trials are a key component to curing cancer and achieving vaccine safety, yet come with a caveat that most parents aren’t willing to risk. It feels good to help mankind, but not at the expense of their child’s growing body.

In 2010, my husband and I agreed to send my 4-year-old daughter to trial to treat her stage IV high-risk neuroblastoma. Emily’s oncologist was desperate to enroll kids in the trial and we were desperate to get rid of the cancer. It was the most difficult decision we’ve ever made.

Emily received two back-to-back stem cell transplants. The theory was that two transplants — as opposed to one that was the protocol of care — would be better at killing the tricky neuroblastoma cells that often lurked and caused a relapse.

It would seem a no-brainer to want two opportunities to kill the cancer cells, but it wasn’t. Kids died during the transplants. The amount of chemo they got in one transplant would kill an adult instantly, but kids metabolized it quicker, so they lived, but just barely. Three weeks after being discharged from the first transplant, a kid in the trial would be admitted into the hospital for the second one. If the neuroblastoma didn’t kill them, the trial protocol might.

We wanted to do everything possible to prevent Emily from dying, so we agreed to the trial. We weren’t about to wait around for her cancer.

We watched her claw her way through line infections, thick mucus in her lungs and ICU visits. We doubted whether we made the right decision with every obstacle, especially when she needed surgery to drain seven ounces of liquid from her heart during her second transplant.

We wanted to do everything possible to prevent Emily from dying, so we agreed to the trial. We weren’t about to wait around for her cancer.

Emily almost got kicked out of the trial in the last few months when her damaged kidneys were failing and dipped below the trial parameters. After her tandem stem cell transplants, 21 rounds of radiation, and months of an experimental antibody therapy, she was so close to finishing. Yet somehow, with the help of smart doctors and more medicine, she finished the trial.

After 18 months, the trial was successful in eliminating Emily’s body of neuroblastoma cells, but it stole parts of her she’d never get back.

Emily, who’s now 16, has chronic kidney disease, estrogen levels of a post-menopausal woman, stunted growth, frail hair and a 65% bi-lateral hearing loss from the toxic drugs used during the trial protocol. It’s been the catch-22 of a lifetime: Agreeing to have her participate in a trial that saved her life, but also compromised the quality of it.

About a year after Emily finished treatment, when she was 5, the trial she’d been enrolled in was stopped early. The data showed that the kids who had received two transplants were relapsing less and had a significantly better chance of survival than the kids who had received one transplant. It worked.

As a result, 300 to 400 kids a year who are diagnosed with stage IV neuroblastoma receive the protocol of care that Emily helped pioneer 10 years ago.

Despite the dark days of treatment and unpredictable secondary effects from chemo, I would make the same decision again, and send her into the trial. Emily would agree, though she longs for the hair that didn’t grow back well after treatment. We know how much worse the alternative could have been. She might not be alive, picking out a homecoming dress and watching Tik Tok videos for hours a day. She might be a statistic.

[The COVID vaccine trials] serve as a gatekeeper to kids’ health from a nation that doesn’t like to wait.

And now a nation of parents looks toward science to approve a COVID-19 vaccine to keep their kids from being statistics, too. The American Academy of Pediatrics reported 225,978 child COVID-19 cases last week, nearly 26% of the weekly reported cases. It’s the second-highest total of new diagnoses among children over the course of the pandemic.

As desperate as we are for our children to get their COVID-19 vaccines, the trial pharmaceutical companies are running — and the in-depth data analysis the FDA undertakes — exists to protect millions of kids from adverse effects that can’t be predicted. It serves as a gatekeeper to kids’ health from a nation that doesn’t like to wait.

When the FDA approves a vaccine for kids — and they will — let’s acknowledge the kids who, like Emily, answered the call. They’re the unsung heroes in getting a nation back to health.

Follow Cognoscenti on Facebook and Twitter.

By: Amy McHugh

Cognoscenti contributor
Amy McHugh is a high school teacher on Cape Cod where she lives with her husband, two teenage daughters, and two goldendoodles. She’s helped raise over $750,000 for neuroblastoma research at Dana-Farber’s Jimmy Fund Clinic.

Source: The COVID Vaccine For Kids Is Almost Here. Let’s Not Forget The Children Who Made This Possible | Cognoscenti

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How Does EMDR Treat Trauma? Psychologists Explain

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Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy was developed in the 1980s to help people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Since then, use of the treatment has grown—and so has the evidence behind it. Nancy J. Smyth, Ph.D., a dean and professor at the University at Buffalo School of Social Work, uses EMDR with patients coping with trauma; here, she explains how it works.

What is EMDR, and why does it help with PTSD?

Smyth: Trauma can overwhelm our minds’ natural information processing system, leaving the memory stuck as though the experience is still happening. When people have PTSD, rather than remembering the trauma, recognizing that it was disturbing, and knowing that it’s over, they can feel as if they’re reliving it. EMDR is a type of psychotherapy in which a therapist uses bilateral dual attention stimulation (such as side-to-side eye movements) to help change the way memories are stored.

What happens during EMDR treatment?

Smyth: First, you’ll talk to your therapist about the reason you’re seeking out therapy and about events in your past that have been distressing for you. Next, you’ll do preparation, during which your therapist will see if you have the skills and tools you’ll need to cope with difficult emotions. If you don’t, they will help you learn them (possibly using other types of therapy). Then the therapist will ask questions to make sure you’re both on the same page about the target of treatment.

During treatment, the therapist will prompt you to start by focusing on a traumatic memory as you follow their fingers or an object as it moves from side to side. (Sometimes sounds on the sides of the body—the “bilateral” part of the stimulation—are used instead.) Throughout this, your therapist will ask you to notice thoughts, feelings, or sensations you’re experiencing. They won’t do a lot of talking, but will ask questions like “What comes up now?” The idea is that the bilateral stimulation activates the body’s natural adaptive information processing system in a safe environment, letting you stay in the present moment as you’re simultaneously remembering a distressing experience so your mind can reprocess that memory as a neutral one.

Is there evidence that it works?

Smyth: Yes, research indicates that compared with other types of therapy, like trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy or prolonged exposure, EMDR is just as effective for addressing PTSD or perhaps more so.

How quickly does it work?

Smyth: It varies. If you have healthy coping skills for managing stressors, the prep phase of treatment may be shorter.
If you’re seeking treatment for an isolated traumatic experience, the history-taking and stimulation parts of treatment may be shorter than if you’ve experienced a lot of trauma. Typically, the process takes at least three to 12 sessions.

How can I find a provider?

Smyth: You’ll want a licensed mental health professional who is trained in EMDR. The EMDR International Association is the major professional organization that certifies therapists; you can search the group’s directory at emdria.org.

Is this the same therapy Mel B used?

Yes, in 2018, the Spice Girls singer (whose full name is Melanie Brown) told British tabloid The Sun that she was checking herself into rehab for alcohol and sex issues and undergoing treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder. Brown revealed that working on her book, Brutally Honest, surfaced “massive issues” that she suppressed following her divorce from film producer Stephan Belafonte, whom she has claimed physically and emotionally abused her for years. The singer told The Sun she was diagnosed with PTSD and had begun EMDR. “After trying many different therapies, I started a course of therapy called EMDR, which in a nutshell works on the memory to deal with some of the very painful and traumatic situations I have been through,” said Brown. “I don’t want to jinx it, but so far it’s really helping me,” she said. “If I can shine a light on the issue of pain, PTSD and the things men and women do to mask it, I will.”

As an addiction and relationship therapist, Paul Hokemeyer, Ph.D., a psychotherapist based in New York City and Telluride, Colorado, says he recommends EMDR frequently. “Its success, however, depends of the integrity of the therapeutic relationship the patient has with the clinician providing the actual EMDR treatment and me, the primary therapist making the referral,” he says. “This heightened level of care is essential because EMDR requires the patient to reprocess their original trauma.” If you have symptoms of PTSD and are not yet seeking treatment, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs provides a PTSD Treatment Decision Aid to help you learn more about the various treatment options. You can use this as a jump-off point to start the conversation with your mental health provider.

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Source: https://www.prevention.com

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How To Bring More Gratitude Into Your Life and Improve Your Mental Health

Gratitude is sometimes used as a stick with which to beat someone down. ‘Try to be grateful for how good your life is’, when thrown at someone talking about their experiences of depression, feels immensely dismissive, while ‘you should be grateful’ (whether that’s for a relationship or a job) can be an attempt to gaslight people into accepting poor treatment.

This isn’t to say gratitude is a bad thing – far from it. But when wielded as a weapon, it gets a bad rap. Gratitude, viewed properly, as being thankful for the good things in your life, can be a powerful thing.

There’s a wealth of research that points to gratitude – feeling it and expressing it – making us happier and boosting mental wellbeing. The key is not to ignore issues by sticking gratitude on top as a plaster, but incorporating gratitude more seamlessly into your day-to-day life.

It’s about recognising that things aren’t perfect, but there’s some stuff that’s worth appreciating. ‘Gratitude works to improve our mental health,’ says Counselling Directory member Kirsty Taylor. ‘It’s a really powerful emotion.

‘Gratitude is strongly associated with emotions such as optimism, greater life satisfaction and enjoyment of the moment, an improved ability to handle a crisis situation, increased self esteem, better resilience and increased physical and mental wellbeing.

‘Gratitude, simply, allows us to appreciate situations, people and every day things in a way that increases our happiness and allows us to take grater pleasure in all aspects of life.’

Bringing an attitude of gratitude into your life isn’t as easy as just telling yourself to buck up and be grateful, of course. It’s a conscious practice, a change to your way of thinking. So, how do you bring more thankfulness into your being?

Make a conscious decision to be grateful

Changing the way you think, feel, and behave isn’t going to happen magically, with no effort on your end. Sorry.

‘It can be hard to cultivate gratitude when the daily grind of life makes it hard for us to do so,’ Kirsty tells Metro.co.uk. ‘People can have stressful environments, jobs, families and life situations that make it especially hard to feel grateful for our lives and our circumstances.

‘However, if we don’t make a place for gratitude in our life, it can be a much darker world that we live in. ‘Gratitude is often a chosen state of mind or being and can be increased by making a conscious decision to try and focus on happiness.’

Practise gratitude in the mornings and evenings

Here’s an easy way to start getting into the grateful mindset. Each morning, before you get out of bed (and perhaps instead of doing your usual doomscrolling) challenge yourself to think of three things you’re grateful for – and spend a moment appreciating how great that thing is.

It’s okay if it’s something that seems teeny-tiny or silly, like ‘I’m grateful that I’m going to get myself a nice hot drink on the way to work’. Make sure you don’t just rattle through your list and get on with your day. Take time to really dwell on your gratitude for these things, and feel it.

You can do the same thing right before bed. Dominique Antiglio, a sophrologist at BeSophro, suggests combining this practice with a spot of meditation and physical relaxation.

She recommends: ‘First thing in the morning, stand up, gently shake your entire body, letting go of any tension. Exhale fully all negative anticipation and anxieties you may feel.

‘Then sit down, inhale, tense your body, exhale and relax each part of your body from head to toe. Then in a relaxed state with eyes closed, think about one thing that you are grateful for now or that you are going to experience today.

‘It can be a simple as how comfortable your pyjamas feel in that moment (start simple!) and it will become deeper and more meaningful as you repeat this practice.

‘Last thing in the evening, shake the tension of the day away by moving and breathing, and then close your eyes. Think about one quality or resource that got you through your day i.e. perseverance, connection with a friend, hope, calm etc. ‘Then spend a moment gently activating this word in your body and mind through gentle in-breaths and out-breaths.’

Start a gratitude journal

Instead of only thinking or saying those things you’re grateful for, try writing them down.

‘One of my anxiety clients, I asked to keep a gratitude journal, and every time she felt negative or anxious to revert to writing all the things she felt grateful for at that moment,’ says life coach Denise Bosque. ‘It really helped, because it’s training the brain towards noticing and feeling the positive stuff that is all around us in abundance.’

Open your mind to little things

A key part of cultivating gratitude is learning to actually notice the good stuff and savour it. Once you know you’ll have to think of three things to be grateful for at the end of the day, you might find yourself naturally looking out for positive bits in life.

Keep your eyes and mind open to take in the parts of your day that you might normally overlook: how nice it is to walk past the park on the way to work, how tasty your lunch is, how you’re actually really enjoying a new hobby you’ve been trying.

‘Even when it feel tricky to find something to be grateful for, the simple fact that you are starting to look for it is like opening a door to a new world and perspective,’ Dominique explains. ‘When we feel grateful, we are naturally opening up our minds and body, calming our nervous system and shifting our perspective to something more constructive. We are learning to contemplate ourselves, our lives or people around us from a positive place.’

Reframe challenges

Okay, this is where it gets a little trickier. When you come up against bad times, it’s fine to feel sad, angry, or scared. But can you also take a moment to reframe some small part of what’s happened with gratitude?

‘It can be useful to think of a positive way of reframing each complaint that we might want to make,’ says Kirsty. ‘If someone is rude to you at work, you might want to complain to a friend about them. Instead, you could remind yourself of all the other great colleagues you are fortunate to work with and be grateful that perhaps you aren’t having the same stressful day as a rude colleague.

‘When difficult things happen in life, such as loss and bereavement and relationship breakups, we all can have a tendency to feel very down and depressed and low in mood about such painful life events.

‘It can be very hard to reach for a positive when things feel very difficult, but those who can practise daily gratitude might be able to find a positive in even the darkest situations.

‘Loss reminds us to love those around us, relationship breakups show us that love feels wonderful when it’s going well, and that we can learn something so our next relationship will be different. Bereavement can make us stronger in the long term, can remind us of the precious nature of life and allow us to breathe in our surroundings each and feel grateful for the life we get to live.’

Express gratitude out loud

Don’t just think grateful thoughts – speak them. Comment on how lovely the weather is today, say out loud that you appreciate your body for getting you where you need to go, talk about positive things in your life to balance out any venting.

Tell people you appreciate them

Why keep all that gratitude to yourself? If you’re thankful for someone’s support, their actions, their presence, tell them.

This can be as small as giving someone a genuine thank you for making you a tea, it can be telling your partner how much you appreciate them, it could be writing your parents a letter to say how grateful you are for all they’ve done.

Spread the wealth – it feels good and does good, too.

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By:

 

Source: How to bring more gratitude into your life and improve your mental health | Metro News

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Gratitude in intermediate affective terrain: Links of grateful moods to individual differences and daily emotional experience

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The 5 Founding Fathers and A History of Positive Psychology

 

Diet Culture: Will We Ever Stop Obsessing About Our Weight?

It’s a secret shame that countless women feel, but only rarely admit to. “Am I betraying my feminist self by believing I don’t look good in clothes until I lose weight?” a girlfriend texted me a few weeks ago, after agonizing about the fact that she is now a few kilos heavier than she usually is. “I feel like shit about this. I would die if I had a girl and she said that to me.”I feel the same. My friend only told me this (I’m fairly certain) because I’d previously confided in her my own squirmy thoughts about my weight. Like the shame I feel about having wasted years tallying how much dessert I’ll let myself have or how I feel about myself according to how tight my jeans’ waistband is on any given day.

How is this possible, I’ve long wondered, when I’m intelligent enough to know that my culture has brainwashed me into wanting to look thin? And when I know that spending that time on literally anything else would enrich my life, instead of mentally strangling it?

“It’s super common … and a huge part of the difficulty that some people can have psychologically because they feel it’s mutually exclusive,” says Melbourne-based clinical psychologist Stephanie Tan-Kristanto, who has helped many people work through these feelings. “[They think] ‘I must be really terrible, or a bad person because I’m having these thoughts, and I shouldn’t be having these thoughts because I’m too intelligent to be worrying about body image issues’.”

It is an under-acknowledged water-dripping discomfort that many women – and to a lesser extent, men – experience. Because while the destructive nature of eating disorders has long been studied, the embarrassment and shame that come from an unshakeable desire to have a smaller body – when it isn’t accompanied by disordered eating, obsessive exercising, an inability to focus on vocational studies or career, or other signs of a clinical disorder – has not.

If anything, these feelings are getting harder to battle, says Tan-Kristanto, as an increasing amount of celebrities are giving us the expectation that 50 or 60-year-olds can still look, respectively, 30 and 40.And the impact can be significant, and lifelong.

“I think it’s really bad for one’s self-esteem because I’m constantly saying to myself, ‘I’m not good enough, my body’s not good enough, my legs are too big, my stomach’s too flabby’,” says one friend of mine, a 47-year-old entrepreneur and mother of two who has been fighting these feelings for the last 35 years (since she was 12 and her parents told her she was “chubby”). Though she’s long been a healthy weight, and enjoys a wide variety of activities including surfing and dancing, she says: “I can see the amount of time I’ve wasted in my life dieting, and thinking about food so much and counting calories.”

They’re feelings Tan-Kristanto hears a lot from patients, particularly those who present with depression and anxiety. “The shame is a feeling that you are defective,” she says. But there’s a reason so many of us have these feelings: evolution.

“Our brains are hard-wired to be Velcro for negatives and Teflon for positives, so we’re naturally our own biggest critics, regardless of how intelligent or educated we are in many ways,” says Tan-Kristanto, a director of the Australian Clinical Psychology Association. “Our survival and ability to continue living and thriving as a species requires us to be more aware of the dangers in our life. So we need to look for the threats in our life to be able to survive and reproduce.”

In “caveman days” the risk was a sabre-tooth tiger. In modern times, it’s anything that can threaten our ability to fit in, get our next job and find a great partner.

“And all of those things are absolutely related to our weight, and humans being a social species, you know our survival and our thriving is in many ways related to how well we fit in cultures. Obviously the expectations of how we look or what we weigh varies across different cultures and different time periods. But it’s still a universal thing that our appearance and our weight is associated with society accepting us, and fitting into cultures.”

I’d always assumed this is something I’d inevitably age out of, especially once I hit my 60s or 70s.Turns out, not necessarily. “She was in her 80s,” says one woman I know, of a woman she knew who was in debilitating pain. It had become so bad that this elderly woman could barely walk. There was a remedy. A particular medication that would alleviate her pain and give her back the use of her legs. No dice. “It came with a possible two-kilo weight gain,” says the woman I know, explaining why the woman in her 80s rejected the treatment, citing her appearance.

Intense fear of gaining weight is just one indication, says Tan-Kristanto, that a person has moved away from a “somewhat helpful” focus on being healthy to “mal adaptive” behaviours that require psychological intervention. Others include: extreme dissatisfaction with body image, “really low self-esteem”, feeling depressed as a result of appearance, avoiding social situations that involve food, repetitive dieting, skipping meals or fasting and exercising even when injured.

As for the rest of us? We need to do our best to drop our shame. “You can be really intelligent and educated, and understanding of the pressures that society puts on you, and you can still struggle sometimes with body image,” says Tan-Kristanto. Accepting this, she says, frees us up to focus on other parts of our life.

“It helps us to be a little more understanding and compassionate, so we’re not fighting things as much, and not being as stuck or fused with those thoughts. It helps us to look at the bigger picture of things.” So does fighting the stigma of our feelings, by sharing them with friends. “I wouldn’t underestimate the value of [having a friend] say, ‘Thank god, it’s not just me’.”

Samantha Selinger-Morris

By:Samantha Selinger-Morris

Source: Diet culture: Will we ever stop obsessing about our weight?

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How much sugar is sneaking into your supermarket shop?

And just like that, a tote bag enters the Sex and the City universe

Will we ever stop secretly obsessing about our weight?

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Daily Life The part of your body that will help most with

AI Breakthrough Could Spark Medical Revolution

Artificial intelligence has been used to predict the structures of almost every protein made by the human body. The development could help supercharge the discovery of new drugs to treat disease, alongside other applications. Proteins are essential building blocks of living organisms; every cell we have in us is packed with them.

Understanding the shapes of proteins is critical for advancing medicine, but until now, only a fraction of these have been worked out. Researchers used a program called AlphaFold to predict the structures of 350,000 proteins belonging to humans and other organisms. The instructions for making human proteins are contained in our genomes – the DNA contained in the nuclei of human cells.

There are around 20,000 of these proteins expressed by the human genome. Collectively, biologists refer to this full complement as the “proteome”. Commenting on the results from AlphaFold, Dr Demis Hassabis, chief executive and co-founder of artificial intelligence company Deep Mind, said: “We believe it’s the most complete and accurate picture of the human proteome to date.

“We believe this work represents the most significant contribution AI has made to advancing the state of scientific knowledge to date. “And I think it’s a great illustration and example of the kind of benefits AI can bring to society.” He added: “We’re just so excited to see what the community is going to do with this.”

Proteins are made up of chains of smaller building blocks called amino acids. These chains fold in myriad different ways, forming a unique 3D shape. A protein’s shape determines its function in the human body. The 350,000 protein structures predicted by AlphaFold include not only the 20,000 contained in the human proteome, but also those of so-called model organisms used in scientific research, such as E. coli, yeast, the fruit fly and the mouse.

This giant leap in capability is described by DeepMind researchers and a team from the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in the prestigious journal Nature.  AlphaFold was able to make a confident prediction of the structural positions for 58% of the amino acids in the human proteome.

The positions of 35.7% were predicted with a very high degree of confidence – double the number confirmed by experiments. Traditional techniques to work out protein structures include X-ray crystallography, cryogenic electron microscopy (Cryo-EM) and others. But none of these is easy to do: “It takes a huge amount of money and resources to do structures,” Prof John McGeehan, a structural biologist at the University of Portsmouth, told BBC News.

Therefore, the 3D shapes are often determined as part of targeted scientific investigations, but no project until now had systematically determined structures for all the proteins made by the body. In fact, just 17% of the proteome is covered by a structure confirmed experimentally. Commenting on the predictions from AlphaFold, Prof McGeehan said: “It’s just the speed – the fact that it was taking us six months per structure and now it takes a couple of minutes. We couldn’t really have predicted that would happen so fast.”

“When we first sent our seven sequences to the DeepMind team, two of those we already had the experimental structures for. So we were able to test those when they came back. It was one of those moments – to be honest – where the hairs stood up on the back of my neck because the structures [AlphaFold] produced were identical.”

Prof Edith Heard, from EMBL, said: “This will be transformative for our understanding of how life works. That’s because proteins represent the fundamental building blocks from which living organisms are made.” “The applications are limited only by our understanding.” Those applications we can envisage now include developing new drugs and treatments for disease, designing future crops that can resist climate change, and enzymes that can break down the plastic that pervades the environment.

Prof McGeehan’s group is already using AlphaFold’s data to help develop faster enzymes for degrading plastic. He said the program had provided predictions for proteins of interest whose structures could not be determined experimentally – helping accelerate their project by “multiple years”.

Dr Ewan Birney, director of EMBL’s European Bioinformatics Institute, said the AlphaFold predicted structures were “one of the most important datasets since the mapping of the human genome”. DeepMind has teamed up with EMBL to make the AlphaFold code and protein structure predictions openly available to the global scientific community.

Dr Hassabis said DeepMind planned to vastly expand the coverage in the database to almost every sequenced protein known to science – over 100 million structures.

By : Paul Rincon / Science editor, BBC News website

Source: AI breakthrough could spark medical revolution – BBC News

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U.S. Set To Recommend Booster Covid-19 Vaccine Dose For Most People, Reports Say

U.S health officials are expected to recommend Covid-19 vaccine booster doses for Americans across all eligible age groups eight months after they received their second vaccine dose, to ensure lasting protection against the coronavirus as the more infectious delta variant spreads across the country partially blunting the efficacy of existing vaccine regimens.

According to the Associated Press, health officials could announce the booster recommendation as soon as this week, just a few days after an additional vaccine dose was recommended for people with weakened immune systems.

The Biden administration could then begin rolling out the third shots as early as mid-to-late September, the New York Times reported, citing unnamed officials.

The first booster shots will likely be administered to nursing home residents, health care workers and elderly Americans who were among the first people in the country to be inoculated.

The Associated Press notes that the formal deployment of the booster doses can only take place after the vaccines have been fully approved by the Food and Drug Administration—an action that is expected for the Pfizer jab in the next few weeks.

The Food and Drug Administration is expected to fully approve the Pfizer vaccine in the coming weeks which will formally open the door for it to be offered as a booster to millions of Americans who have already received two vaccine doses.

Big Number

59.4%. That’s the percentage of the eligible U.S. popuplation (12 years of age and older) that has been fully vaccinated against Covid-19, with 70% receiving at least one dose, according to the CDC’s tracker.

Surprising Fact

An estimated 1.1 million people have already received an unauthorized booster dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine, ABC News reported last week, citing an internal CDC document reviewed by the broadcaster. The number is likely an undercount as it only accounts for people who received a third dose of an mRNA vaccine but does not count those who may have received a dose of the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine and then received a second dose of either the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines.

Key Background

Last week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a booster dose of the Covid-19 vaccines made by Pfizer and Moderna for people with compromised immune systems. The targeted move was aimed at providing better protection for people who have undergone solid organ transplants or those diagnosed with conditions that are considered to be immunocompromised.

Unlike the eight-month gap being proposed for booster doses for the general population, immunocompromised patients can receive their third dose as early as 28 days after their second shot. The FDA’s decision followed similar moves undertaken by Israel, France and Germany who began administering an additional dose to vulnerable populations amid the threat of the more infectious delta variant of the virus.

Contra

As the more infectious delta variant of the coronavirus takes hold across the U.S. questions about the effectiveness or even the necessity of a booster dose remain unanswered. While some vaccines are slightly less effective against the variant, it is still unclear if protection against more severe disease and hospitalizations have been impacted significantly as well.

This makes any decision to authorize booster doses remains a controversial one in the global context as critics decry the fact that developed nations are administering an additional dose at a time when several poorer nations have limited access to vaccines. Earlier this month, the World Health Organization (WHO) called for a moratorium on Covid-19 vaccine booster shots until at least the end of September.

Further Reading

U.S. to Advise Boosters for Most Americans 8 Months After Vaccination (New York Times)

US to recommend COVID vaccine boosters at 8 months (Associated Press)

More Than 1 Million Have Received Unauthorized Third Dose (WebMD)

FDA Authorizes Extra Covid-19 Vaccine Dose For Those With Weakened Immune Systems (Forbes)

How Good Are Covid-19 Vaccines At Protecting Against The Delta Variant? (Forbes)

I am a Breaking News Reporter at Forbes, with a focus on covering important tech policy and business news. Graduated from Columbia University with an MA in Business and Economics Journalism in 2019. Worked as a journalist in New Delhi, India from 2014 to 2018. Have a news tip? DMs are open on Twitter @SiladityaRay or drop me an email at siladitya@protonmail.com.

Source: U.S. Set To Recommend Booster Covid-19 Vaccine Dose For Most People, Reports Say

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More Contents:

Scientists Predict Early Covid-19 Symptoms Using AI (And An App)

Combining self-reported symptoms with Artificial Intelligence can predict the early symptoms of Covid-19, according to research led by scientists at Kings College London. Previous studies have predicted whether people will develop Covid using symptoms from the peak of viral infection, which can be less relevant over time — fever is common during later phases, for instance.

The new study reveals which symptoms of infection can be used for early detection of the disease. Published in the journal The Lancet Digital Health, the research used data collected via the ZOE COVID Symptom Study smartphone app. Each app user logged any symptoms that they experienced over the first 3 days, plus the result of a subsequent PCR test for Coronavirus and personal information like age and sex.

Researchers used those self-reported data from the app to assess three models for predicting Covid in advance, which involved using one dataset to train a given model before its performance was tested on another set. The training set included almost 183,000 people who reported symptoms from 16 October to 30 November 2020, while the test dataset consisted of more than 15,000 participants with data between 16 October and 30 November.

The three models were: 1) a statistical method called logical regression; 2) a National Health Service (NHS) algorithm, and; 3) an Artificial Intelligence (AI) approach known as a ‘hierarchical Gaussian process’. Of the three prediction models, the AI approach performed the best, so it was then used to identify patterns in the data. The AI prediction model was sensitive enough to find which symptoms were most relevant in various groups of people.

The subgroups were occupation (healthcare professional versus non-healthcare), age group (16-39, 40-59, 60-79, 80+ years old), sex (male or female), Body-Mass Index (BMI as underweight, normal, overweight/obese) and several well-known health conditions. According to results produced by the AI model, loss of smell was the most relevant early symptom among both healthcare and non-healthcare workers, and the two groups also reported chest pain and a persistent cough.

The symptoms varied among age groups: loss of smell had less relevance to people over 60 years old, for instance, and seemed irrelevant to those over 80 — highlighting age as a key factor in early Covid detection. There was no big difference between sexes for their reported symptoms, but shortness of breath, fatigue and chills/shivers were more relevant signs for men than for women.

No particular patterns were found in BMI subgroups either and, in terms of health conditions, heart disease was most relevant for predicting Covid. As the study’s symptoms were from 2020, its results might only apply to the original strain of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and Alpha variant – the two variants with highest prevalence in the UK that year.

The predictions wouldn’t have been possible without the self-reported data from the ZOE COVID Symptom Study project, a non-profit collaboration between scientists and personalized health company ZOE, which was co-founded by genetic epidemiologist Tim Spector of Kings College London.

The project’s website keeps an up-to-date ranking of the top 5 Covid symptoms reported by British people who are now fully vaccinated (with a Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccine), have so far received one of the two doses, or are still unvaccinated. Those top 5 symptoms provide a useful resource if you want to know which signs are common for the most prevalent variant circulating in a population — currently Delta – as distinct variants can be associated with different symptoms.

When a new variant emerges in future, you could pass some personal information (such as age) to the AI prediction model so it shows the early symptoms most relevant to you — and, if you developed those symptoms, take a Covid test and perhaps self-isolate before you transmit the virus to other people. As the new study concludes, such steps would help alleviate stress on public health services:

“Early detection of SARS-CoV-2-infected individuals is crucial to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and efficiently allocate medical resources.” Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website or some of my other work here.

I’m a science communicator and award-winning journalist with a PhD in evolutionary biology. I specialize in explaining scientific concepts that appear in popular culture and mainly write about health, nature and technology. I spent several years at BBC Science Focus magazine, running the features section and writing about everything from gay genes and internet memes to the science of death and origin of life. I’ve also contributed to Scientific American and Men’s Health. My latest book is ’50 Biology Ideas You Really Need to Know’.

Source: Scientists Predict Early Covid-19 Symptoms Using AI (And An App)

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Critics:

Healthcare providers and researchers are faced with an exponentially increasing volume of information about COVID-19, which makes it difficult to derive insights that can inform treatment. In response, AWS launched CORD-19 Search, a new search website powered by machine learning, that can help researchers quickly and easily search for research papers and documents and answer questions like “When is the salivary viral load highest for COVID-19?”

Built on the Allen Institute for AI’s CORD-19 open research dataset of more than 128,000 research papers and other materials, this machine learning solution can extract relevant medical information from unstructured text and delivers robust natural-language query capabilities, helping to accelerate the pace of discovery.

In the field of medical imaging, meanwhile, researchers are using machine learning to help recognize patterns in images, enhancing the ability of radiologists to indicate the probability of disease and diagnose it earlier.

UC San Diego Health has engineered a new method to diagnose pneumonia earlier, a condition associated with severe COVID-19. This early detection helps doctors quickly triage patients to the appropriate level of care even before a COVID-19 diagnosis is confirmed. Trained with 22,000 notations by human radiologists, the machine learning algorithm overlays x-rays with colour-coded maps that indicate pneumonia probability. With credits donated from the AWS Diagnostic Development Initiative, these methods have now been deployed to every chest x-ray and CT scan throughout UC San Diego Health in a clinical research study.

Related Links:

Governments must build trust in AI to fight COVID-19 – Here’s how they can do it

This AI model has predicted which patients will get the sickest from COVID-19

Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations

What history tells us about pandemics’ impact on inflation

How to back an inclusive post-COVID recovery

Survey: How US employees feel about a full return to the workplace

How the New Child Tax Credit Is Helping Parent Entrepreneurs

Eligible parents are slated to receive their monthly child tax credit payments starting Thursday. How you use the money could affect your business or help you start one.

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 expanded the tax credit score to $3,600 per baby underneath the age of six and to $3,000 for these aged six to 17. It is in impact only for 2021, although Biden has advocated making it making it everlasting.

Half of the funds might be despatched to folks in installments via December. For instance, a mum or dad with one baby underneath six would obtain $300 per 30 days. Dad and mom can declare the remainder upon submitting taxes for 2021–unless they choose out to allow them to obtain all the cash once they file.

Madilynn A. Beck, founder and CEO of Palm Springs, California-based Fountful–an app that gives “life-style providers” like manicures or DJ appearances on demand–is contemplating that strategy. Beck says that if she meets her enterprise targets this 12 months, Fountful might generate sufficient income to considerably enhance her tax burden come subsequent April. “I am protecting my head above water now,” she says. “What occurs if I’m absolutely underwater then and do not have a life vest?”

The kid tax credit score will have an effect on individuals at a “wide selection” of earnings ranges, says Daniel Milan, managing accomplice at Cornerstone Monetary Providers primarily based in Southfield, Michigan. For aspiring entrepreneurs, it’d offset childcare prices for just a few months whereas they work on getting a enterprise off the bottom. For others, the cash might simply assist alleviate day by day monetary stress.

That is the case for Ruby Taylor, CEO and founding father of Baltimore-based Monetary Pleasure Faculty, which supplies monetary literacy training and produces a card sport that teaches the topic to younger individuals. In April 2021, she and her spouse’s monetary scenario modified consequently of the pandemic however they nonetheless needed to cowl issues like a brand new roof and fence for his or her home.

Their financial savings account dwindled, and Taylor’s nervousness spiked, leading to her occurring blood stress and nervousness treatment. The additional $500 the mom of two expects to obtain means the couple can construct up their security web once more, taking the stress off each of them. “When she’s not pressured, I am not pressured,” Taylor says. It “will assist the enterprise not directly, as a result of I may be extra productive.”

Guardian entrepreneurs face the extra problem of staying current with spouses and kids, says James Oliver Jr., founder and CEO of ParentPreneur Basis, an Atlanta-based nonprofit that helps Black mum or dad founders financially and with an internet neighborhood (of which Beck and Taylor are each members).

 Month-to-month funds “may very well be the distinction of sending the youngsters to summer season camp, shopping for further groceries, taking a bit trip, or taking the youngsters to the amusement park as soon as a month to assist the household bond,” he says.

Source: How the New Child Tax Credit Is Helping Parent Entrepreneurs | Inc.com

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Critics:

The Internal Revenue Service today launched two new online tools designed to help families manage and monitor the advance monthly payments of Child Tax Credits under the American Rescue Plan. These two new tools are in addition to the Non-filer Sign-up Tool, announced last week, which helps families not normally required to file an income tax return to quickly register for the Child Tax Credit. The new Child Tax Credit Eligibility Assistant allows families to answer a series of questions to quickly determine whether they qualify for the advance credit.

The Child Tax Credit Update Portal allows families to verify their eligibility for the payments and if they choose to, unenroll, or opt out from receiving the monthly payments so they can receive a lump sum when they file their tax return next year. This secure, password-protected tool is available to any eligible family with internet access and a smart phone or computer. Future versions of the tool planned in the summer and fall will allow people to view their payment history, adjust bank account information or mailing addresses and other features. A Spanish version is also planned.

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