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eating disorders

10/09/14 7:30pm

Is There a Biological Cause for Eating Disorders?

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According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, some 24 million people from all genders and age groups in the United States currently suffer from eating disorders, including anorexia nervosa, bulimia, and binge eating disorder.

While the psychological and genetic causes of these conditions have been well documented, scientists have struggled to find a biological link to the disorders beyond the increased or decreased regulation of food intake. However, a new study by researchers at the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research have discovered that a protein produced by intestinal bacteria may be a root cause of these disorders.

The protein, called ClpB, mimics a satiety hormone that helps to inform the body when it is feeling hungry or full. When ClpB is present, the body produces antibodies, which bind to the satiety hormone and create a false sensation of either hunger or fullness.

The researchers initially conducted experiments on the intestinal flora of mice to study their biological response. One test group received E.coli bacteria that produced ClpB, and showed varying levels of antibodies and food intake, while a second group, which received a mutant strain of E.coli that did not produce the protein, displayed no changes in eating habits or antibodies.

Data from 60 human test subjects was then analyzed with a questionnaire that evaluated the severity of their condition, while biological tests confirmed a higher level of antibodies to Clpb and the satiety hormones in their systems. This data appeared to confirm the involvement of the protein in the dysfunctional regulation of their appetites.

Study authors Pierre Déchelotte and Sergueï Fetissov stated that the next steps would be to develop a blood test based on the detection of ClpB. “If we are successful at this, we will be able to establish specific and individualized treatment for eating disorders,” they noted. The long-term goal for the researchers would be to neutralize the protein in order to halt its effect on the satiety hormone without causing harm to the hormone itself.

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By Paul Gaita

News

10/09/14 5:30pm

Adrian Peterson Admits Smoking Pot, Ordered to be Re-Arrested

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Fans won't see this for a while. Photo via

Looks like Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson is in trouble again after he allegedly violated the terms of his bond by smoking pot.

Peterson was subjected to a drug test on Wednesday as a condition of his bond in his child abuse case pending in Texas. According to documents obtained by TMZ Sports, Peterson admitted to an employee of the company administering the test that he had "smoked a little weed" recently.

Prosecutors in Montgomery County, Texas filed paperwork to revoke his bail and ordered him to be re-arrested, stating that his admission was a direct violation of the terms of his bond. He had been free on a $15,000 bond on a charge of felony child abuse after allegedly whipping his four-year-old son with a 'switch' as a means of discipline.

Peterson most likely won't see any action on his admission until after his recusal hearing, which is scheduled for Friday. His attorney, Rusty Hardin, urged people to not "rush to judgment" about his client's fate.

If convicted of felony child abuse, Peterson could face six months to two years in prison, though it's expected that he would be placed on probation for being a first time offender.

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By Shawn Dwyer

gambling addiction

10/09/14 3:30pm

New York State Lags In Dealing With Gambling Addiction

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Though not commonly associated with gambling like New Jersey or Nevada, New York state features a wide variety of legal gambling options—tribal casinos, off-track betting, and the state lottery—and rakes in a whopping $3.2 billion annually. But the state only spends about $2.2 million on programs that address compulsive gambling, putting New York far behind other states.

“It’s not even close to what we need,” said James Maney, director of the New York Council on Problem Gambling. “Gambling is more normalized now. It’s not just the lottery or casinos. It’s fantasy football. Sports betting. Internet betting. Every form of gambling has taken off, and we haven’t done a great job of responding to it."

With New York about to build four new casinos upstate, calls for doing more to recognize and treat gambling addiction have grown louder.

“As we increase gambling opportunities, we’re going to have a lot more addiction,” said state Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz, (D-Brooklyn). “We’ve got to do more.”

According to some estimates, the new casinos will contribute an additional $3.5 million toward addiction programs—a significant increase that nonetheless falls short of the mark. Currently, there are an estimated 600,000 to 1 million problem gamblers in New York, many of whom don't seek help. But with the increased revenues expected from the new casinos, as well as new strategies designed to address a growing problem, state officials feel that they're taking the issue seriously.

“We are committed to problem gambling education and treatment,” said Arlene Gonzalez-Sanchez, Commissioner of the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS). “We’re on the right track.”

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By Shawn Dwyer

eating disorders

10/09/14 1:00pm

Eating Disorders Can Start as Early as Grade School

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Researchers from the University of Montreal and the CHU Sainte-Justine children's hospital conducted a study which found that children between the ages of 8 and 12 years old can show restrictive eating behaviors that may trigger disorders like anorexia and bulimia later in life.

Led by Prof. Dominique Meilleur, a clinical psychologist, the researchers presented their findings earlier this week at a conference for the Eating Disorders Association of Canada in Vancouver.

"Many researchers believe that bulimia only appears at adolescence, but our studies indicate that the problem can arise much earlier," Prof. Meilleur said. "It is possible that it is currently under-diagnosed due to a lack of awareness and investigation."

In their study, the researchers examined 215 children between 8 and 12 years old who had eating problems. They found that a staggering 95% had restrictive eating behaviors, 69% were afraid of putting on weight, and 47% considered themselves to be "fat."

"These behaviors reflect the clinical presentations we observe in adolescents and support findings that body image is a preoccupation for some children as early as elementary school," says Prof. Meilleur.

Even more striking, the researchers discovered that around 15% of the children occasionally purged themselves, while roughly 13% displayed bulimic behaviors. Additionally, around 52% of the children had been hospitalized at least once from complications due to their eating disorder, while 48% were treated as outpatients.

Over a third of the children had some kind of psychiatric condition that was part of their families, and almost a quarter stated that their appearance had been mocked by peers, triggering their particular eating disorder.

"Many factors are associated with the development and persistence of eating disorders," said Prof. Meilleur. "For some children, bullying can initiate or reinforce body image preoccupations and possibly lead to a change in eating behavior."

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By Shawn Dwyer

addiction & religion

10/09/14 10:30am

CNN Special Examines Addiction In LDS Church

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A new CNN special took a close look at the surprising amount of drug abuse that has infiltrated the close-knit LDS Church.

The latest episode of the documentary series This Is Life with Lisa Ling, “Unholy Addiction,” examines whether the Mormon religion is indirectly responsible for the growing drug problem throughout Utah. The state currently has more prescription drug overdose deaths than almost any other state in the U.S.

But after speaking with numerous people in the Mormon community and being granted exclusive access to leaders within the LDS Church, Ling concluded that religion and drug abuse within the state are separate. The documentary also takes great effort to not criticize the church.

"There is a perception, I think, that Mormonism is a very strict religion and that there is this pressure to be perfect and live these sort of perfect lives," she said. "But what everybody told me is it’s not the religion that puts that pressure on people, it’s totally self-imposed…I really have to take my hat off to people in the church for giving us this kind of access and opening themselves up.”

Although the pressure might be self-imposed, the CNN special does hint that the traditional, family-values culture many Utah natives find themselves in could contribute to the issue. “There’s that pressure to be perfect,” acknowledged Kathy, who has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on rehab for herself and her daughter, Shannon. “And since we don’t drink, there’s always the pills, which we don’t talk about…I became addicted within a few weeks.”

Shannon’s addiction to prescription pills ultimately progressed into a heroin addiction, resulting in a DUI arrest and losing custody of her daughter. "I didn’t fit in the box of being, like, this housewife,” she said. “Everybody else in church gets married and has five kids by the time they’re 30. They’re not telling you to do that, but how do you feel when you go to church and you’re the only one who doesn’t?"

Last August, the LDS Church became the subject of online ridicule when they released a video dedicated to tackling pornography addiction. They use a 12-step program for pornography addicts that is based on the program used by Alcoholics Anonymous, but seem to disregard the fact that pornography addiction is not recognized by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders which does not consider it to be a mental health problem.

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By McCarton Ackerman

News

10/09/14 8:30am

Woman Sues DEA For Creating Fake Facebook Account Under Her Name

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A potentially precedent-setting case is pending in court after a woman sued the DEA for creating a fake Facebook account under her name.

Sondra Arquiett was arrested in July 2010 and pleaded guilty the following February to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute cocaine base. She was sentenced to time served and given a period of home confinement. However, she is now suing for $250,000 in damages after discovering that DEA agent Timothy Sinnigen created a fake Facebook account in the hopes of tricking her friends and acquaintances into spilling drug information that could be incriminating.

The fake page included real photos of Arquiett and even added status updates written under her name. The Justice Department initially justified the DEA’s actions by claiming that even though she didn’t consent to the account, she "implicitly consented by granting access to the information stored in her cellphone and by consenting to the use of that information to aid in...ongoing criminal investigations." However, Justice Department spokesman Brian Fallon confirmed in a statement earlier this week that the incident is being reviewed and that the case is currently pending.

"If I'm cooperating with law enforcement, and law enforcement says, 'Can I search your phone?'…my expectation is that they will search the phone for evidence of a crime, not that they will take things off my phone and use it in another context,” said Nate Cardozo, a staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a civil liberties organization. “It’s [laughable].”

Arquiett’s damages are based on invasion of privacy and the “fear and emotional distress” she suffered as a result since Sinnigen interacted with “dangerous individuals he was investigating.”

At a bare minimum, the DEA’s policies appear to violate Facebook’s terms of use policies. The social media site states that users “will not provide any false personal information on Facebook, or create an account for anyone other than yourself without permission."

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By McCarton Ackerman

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