All posts by Eric Ho

MCR-1: The consequence of antibiotic misuse and evolving resistance

According to a recent paper published the Lancet, a superbug gene that confers resistance to colistin, an antibiotic used to treat Gram-negative bacterial infections when all other drugs fail, has been discovered in China (Liu et al., 2016; TheStar, 2016). The gene in question, called MCR-1, was found in E.coli in samples from meat, hospital patients, and livestock in southeastern China. Given that China is among the countries with the highest colistin use in agriculture, resistance to the drug may have originated in that part of the world; however, new reports show that the gene is not restricted to China as the following countries have similarly discovered MCR-1 in bacterial DNA: Algeria, Canada, Denmark, England, France, Laos, Portugal, Thailand, The Netherlands, and Wales (TheStar, 2016). Some of the bacterial DNA analyzed and found positive for the MCR-1 gene was derived from specimens archived before 2015; therefore, dissemination of the gene has outpaced discovery, and the issue at hand may already be an international crisis.

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Optimism and health – Staying positive to stay healthy

“When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” This proverbial phrase may sound cliché, but there is wisdom that can be extracted from this saying. When it comes to health and longevity, for instance, optimism may confer significant advantages over pessimism. A Dutch study that examined elderly men and women (aged 65-85 years) over a nine-year period showed that those individuals with the highest level of optimism, compared with the lowest, had a significantly lower likelihood of all-cause and cardiovascular mortality (Giltay, Geleijnse, Zitman, Hoekstra, & Schouten, 2004). Other research has also validated the findings of this study (Brummet, Helms, Dahlstrom, & Siegler, 2006; Maruta, Colligan, Malinchoc, & Offord, 2002). Given the benefits of optimism, it is important to understand the ways by which a positive disposition influences health.

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Social Class as a Predictor of Health: Money Isn’t Everything

Socioeconomic status (SES) is the social and economic position of an individual in a given society. Indicators of socioeconomic status such as occupation, education, and income are what influence health outcomes. Higher SES is associated with a lower risk of mortality and morbidity whereas an inverse relationship is seen with low SES (Adler & Newman, 2002; American Psychological Association, 2015). Health problems experienced in low SES groups include low birthweight, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, arthritis, diabetes and cancer. In Canada, only 43% of people with the lowest incomes reported having very good or excellent health compared with 73% of people with the highest incomes (Public Health Agency of Canada, 2013). The former group also had a greater risk of early death and more illnesses. Given these observations, the relationship between SES and health can be strongly attributed to income; however, could the aforementioned relationship be due to other social and psychological factors independent of wealth?

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A brief evaluation of gluten-related disorders

In today’s supermarket, a variety of products labelled “gluten-free” can be found often targeting health-conscious individuals who are adversely affected by “gluten,” a protein found in wheat and other similar grains (Health Canada, 2012). Given the ubiquity of wheat and related grains in many processed foods, the government of Canada implemented regulations in 2011 that mandated the labelling of products containing gluten or gluten-containing grains in order to allow consumers to make informed choices (Health Canada, 2011). In current medical literature, the umbrella term “gluten-related disorders” is used to describe all diseases and adverse reactions that result from gluten ingestion. At present, there are three main classifications of gluten-related disorders: allergic reactions, autoimmune diseases, and immune-mediated responses (Ludvigsson et al., 2013; Sapone et al., 2012).

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New Year’s Resolutions: Shooting for Success

On January 1st, 2015, the Earth completed its 365-day elliptic trajectory around the Sun. With the conclusion of the yearly orbital cycle, a new yet familiar cycle emerged that gave many a sense of opportunity for growth and development. As such, at the start of every New Year, a throng of Canadian desires and goals are consolidated in the form of “New Year’s Resolutions” which are often health-related. These resolutions may include, but are not limited to, weight loss, cessation of smoking, increasing levels of exercise, and consumption of healthy food (Thestar.com, 2013). Regardless of the particular health-related objective, adhering to self-made yearly commitments can be challenging; therefore, in addition to goal setting, employing a variety of strategies to address potential difficulties should be implemented to ensure the actualization of our resolutions. Continue reading New Year’s Resolutions: Shooting for Success