What's the Buzz

What's the Buzz

Excess paracetamol could be fatal

Taking even slightly too much paracetamol over a period of several days can cause a dangerous overdose that is difficult to spot, but can put the person at danger of dying, a new study has warned.

This clinical situation needs to be recognized and treated rapidly because these patients are at even greater danger than people who take single overdoses. These so-called staggered overdoses can occur when people have pain and repeatedly take a little more paracetamol than they should.

“They haven’t taken the sort of single-moment, one-off massive overdoses taken by people who try to commit suicide, but over time the damage builds up, and the effect can be fatal,” said Dr Kenneth Simpson, author of the study.

The problem is that doctors normally assess how much danger an overdose patient is in when they arrive at hospital by taking a blood sample and finding out how much paracetamol is present. In the case of a single dose overdose, the blood sample gives valuable information, but people with staggered overdoses may have low levels of paracetamol in their blood even though they are at high risk of liver failure and death.

Yeast may hold secret to anti-ageing
Yeast may help scientists uncover ways to maintain our youthful looks. A team of Johns Hopkins and National Taiwan University researchers have successfully manipulated the life span of common, single-celled yeast organisms by figuring out how to remove and restore protein functions related to yeast aging.

The scientists showed that when they remove this age-related protein variant, the organism’s life span is cut short, but when they restore it life span is dramatically extended.

In the case of yeast, the discovery reveals molecular components of an aging pathway that appears related to one that regulates longevity and lifespan in humans, according to Jef Boeke, director of the HiT Center and Technology Center for Networks and Pathways, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

“We believe that for the first time, we have a biochemical route to youth and aging that has nothing to do with diet,” Boeke said.

The chemical variation, known as acetylation because it adds an acetyl group to an existing molecule, is a kind of “decoration” that goes on and off a protein — in this case, the protein Sip2 — much like an ornament can be put on and taken off a Christmas tree, Boeke says.

Anorexics struggle between their ‘real and inauthentic self’
People with Anorexia nervosa constantly face substantial inner conflicts and struggle with questions about their real and inauthentic self – whether their illness is separate from or integral to them, a new study has suggested. 

The researchers have pointed out that this conflict has implications for compulsory treatment. The researchers also conclude that exploring ideas of authenticity may help clinicians formulate therapeutic approaches and provides insights into whether compulsory treatment can be justified.

For the study, researchers in interviewed 29 women who were being treated for anorexia nervosa at clinics throughout the south of England.

The interviews asked questions about how the women view their condition, including their understanding of it, how they feel about compulsory treatment, and their thoughts about the impact of anorexia on decision-making.

Although the researchers did not ask about authenticity or identity, almost all of the participants spoke in terms of an ‘authentic self’. Participants characterised this relationship in different ways.

Many saw anorexia nervosa as separate from their real self, some expressed the idea of a power struggle between their real and inauthentic self while the others said that other people could provide support to enable the authentic self to gain strength within the struggle.

The researchers interpret the patients’ notion of their illness as separate from their authentic self as a sign of hope.