What's the buzz

Laughter can make you snooze!

Laughter may be the best medicine, but for some, it’s nothing less than a disorder — a sleep disorder called narcolepsy can send a person into an instant slumber without warning if you laugh.

People with this order suffer temporary muscle weakness when they experience emotions such as surprise, fear and the exhilaration that comes from a good belly laugh.
It usually manifests itself as cataplexy, in which wide-awake sufferers ‘flop’ as if falling into a deep sleep.

“I lost strength in my hands or my head went limp and nodded forward for a few seconds when I laughed,” said Claire Allen, who suffers from the disorder.

Claire, from Cambridge, was sometimes collapsing 100 times a day. The majority of sufferers start experiencing it in their teens or early 20s when the combination of daytime fatigue and night-time insomnia is simply dismissed as adolescent laziness.

Caffeinated drinks linked to risk of gout attacks

People who drink caffeinated drinks are at an increased risk of recurrent gout attacks.
Long-term caffeine intake has been associated with a decreased risk for gout attacks.
However, in the short-term, caffeine has been found to increase uric acid, which can potentially trigger an attack.

In a study, researchers studied 633 participants who had experienced a gout attack within one year of the study to compare the amount of caffeinated beverage consumption during periods of gout attacks to periods without attacks.

They noted the amount of caffeine (eg: coffee, tea, other caffeinated beverages) and non-caffeinated beverages (eg: non-caffeinated coffee, tea, sodas, juices) each participant consumed during a 24-hour period before a gout attack as well as during a 24-hour period without a gout attack.

Among these participants with gout both with irregular daily caffeinated beverage consumption and increased intake of caffeinated beverages in the prior 24 hours were at a higher risk for recurrent gout attacks.

For example, consuming three or four more servings of caffeinated beverages in the prior 24 hours was associated with 40 to 80 per cent increased risk of recurrent gout attack.

AIDS immunity is all in the proteins!

It is the proteins which help some HIV infected people not end up having AIDS, a new study has suggested.

A large-scale genetic analysis has suggested that tiny changes in the structure of a protein help the immune system to recognise and destroy infected cells.

Most people who contract HIV eventually end up with full-blown AIDS as the virus replicates in their cells, reaching very high levels and damaging their immune systems.
However, the virus does not progress to this stage in about 1 out of every 300 infected people. These ‘HIV controllers’ do not require treatment, because their bodies suppress the replication of the virus.

Bruce Walker of the Harvard University in Charlestown, first thought of carrying out the study when he recognised the clinical value of such HIV controllers.

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