Friday, 28 April 2017



       A particularly tragic outcome of alcohol abuse is its effect on the unborn. Alcohol is far worse for the developing fetus than any other abuse drug. When a pregnant woman drinks, her developing child also drinks, and the toxic effect of alcohol is especially devastating at this formative stage of the fetus. Alcohol causes irreversible damage to its central nervous system. Neurons do not form properly. Cells are killed off. Other cells end up located in the wrong place.
    The result, fetal alcohol syndrome [FAS], is the foremost cause of mental retardation in newborns. Difficulties encountered by FAS children include intellectual impairment, language problems, developmental delay, behavioral dysfunction or deficit, slow growth, hyperactivity, and hearing and sight disorders. Many FAS babies are also born with characteristic facial deformities.
    In addition, children whose mothers drank even moderate amount of alcohol during pregnancy can suffer from certain disabilities, including behavioral problems and learning deficits. “You don’t have to be an alcoholic to hurt your baby,” remarks Professor Ann Streissguth, of the fetal alcohol and drug unit at the University of Washington, “you just have to be drinking enough and pregnant.” The report of the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research Alcool –Effets sur la santé notes: The absorption of alcohol is deleterious during the whole gestational period, and no minimal dose has ever been established below which there are no risks.” Consequently, the wisest course for women who are pregnant or planning a pregnancy may be not to drink any alcohol at all.

                                 ALCOHOL –GOOD FOR THE HEART?

    Scientists suspect that chemicals in red wine [polyphenols] inhibit a chemical that causes blood vessels to constrict.
   Furthermore, alcohol in general has been linked to increased levels of so-called good cholesterol. It also reduces substances that can cause blood clots.
   Any benefit from alcohol seem to involve drinking small amounts spread throughout the week, rather than the total amount all at once on a night out. Exceeding two drinks per day is linked to increases in blood pressure, and heavy drinking raises the risk of stroke and can cause swelling of the heart as well as irregular heartbeat. Immoderate drinking causes these and other health risks to outweigh any positive effects of alcohol on the cardiovascular system. Too much of a good thing is precisely that –too much.

                            ALCOHOL DEPENDENCE –IS IT IN THE GENES?

     In a bid to find a treatment for alcoholism, scientists have striven to understand the role that genes play in its genesis and evolution. Scientists have since discovered several genes that seem to influence one’s reaction to alcohol. However, genetic factors are not the only ones in alcoholism. Even if some people do have a certain genetic predisposition, dependence is not inevitable. Environmental components are involved. Poor parenting, alcohol abuse in the home or by peers, situations involving conflict, emotional difficulties, depression, aggressiveness, thrill seeking, high resistance to alcohol’s effects, or addition to another substance have all been cited as risk factors. These and other element open the way for dependence.
         Women who are breast-feeding should be aware that after they drink, alcohol builds up in their breast milk. In fact, the concentration of alcohol in breast milk is often higher than in blood, since there is more water in the milk to absorb the alcohol than there is in blood.
        Since what is termed a “drink” varies from place to place, the amount of alcohol in a glass will reflect local standard servings and should be considered before consumption.    

Wednesday, 26 April 2017



      Alcohol misuse is a multifaceted problem that includes hazardous use, harmful use, and dependence. Hazardous use, is defined by the World Health Organization, is “a pattern of alcohol consumption carrying with it a risk of harmful consequences,” physical, mental, or social. It includes drinking than the limits recommended by the health authorities or imposed by the law. Harmful use, also called alcohol abuse, involves drinking that is already provoking either physical or mental damage but has not yet led to dependence. Dependence has been described as “the loss of control to abstain from drinking.” An alcohol-dependent person craves alcohol, continues to drink despite various alcohol-induced problems, and suffers from withdrawal in its absence.
       No matter what your age, gender, or nationality, you are not free from the risks of hazardous drinking. Just what does alcohol do to the body? What are the health dangers of overdrinking? And what is generally considered a safe level of alcohol consumption?

                                       DANGEROUS FOR THE MIND

       Ethanol, the chemical compound present in most alcoholic drinks, is a neurotoxin –that is, a substance that can damage or destroy the nervous system. Someone who is drunk is, in fact, suffering from a form of poisoning. In large quantities ethanol causes coma and death. For instance, among students in Japan, the practice of ikkinomi, or alcohol chugging, causes deaths every year. The body is able to convert ethanol into harmless substances, but this is not accomplished immediately. If alcohol is consumed at a faster rate than the body can handle it, ethanol builds up in the system and begins to interfere noticeably with brain function. In what way?
      Speech, vision, coordination, thought, and behavior are all connected with an incredibly complex series of chemical reactions in the brain’s neurons, or key cells. The presence of ethanol modifies those reactions, suppressing or enhancing the role of certain neurotransmitters –chemicals that relay signals from neuron to neuron. The stream of information in the brain is thus altered, preventing the brain from functioning normally. That is why when a person drinks too much, he or she develops slurred speech, blurred vision, sluggish movement, and weakened behavioral restraints and inhibitions –all common symptoms of intoxication.
      With prolonged exposure to alcohol, brain chemistry adapts to counter the poisonous effect of ethanol and to maintain normal nerve function. This leads to tolerance, whereby the same amount of alcohol has less of an effect than it would have had previously. Dependence occurs when the brain has adapted so much to the presence of alcohol that it cannot operate properly without it. The body craves alcohol to maintain the chemical balance. When a person is deprived of alcohol, his brain chemistry is totally destabilized and withdrawal symptoms, such as anxiety, trembling, or even seizures, set in.
    Besides causing modifications of brain chemistry, alcohol abuse can lead to cell atrophy and destruction, altering the brain’s very structure. While partial recovery is possible with abstinence, some of this damage seems to be irreversible. Neurons that die are apparently never replaced, further affecting memory and other cognitive functions. Damage to the brain is not just the result of long-term exposure to alcohol. Research seems to indicate that even relatively short periods of alcohol abuse can be harmful.

                                                       LIVER DISEASE AND CANCER

       The liver plays a vital role in metabolizing food, combating infection, regulating blood flow, and removing toxic substances, including alcohol, from the body. Prolonged exposure damages the liver in three stages. During the first stage, the breaking down of ethanol slows the digestion of fats, causing them to build up in the liver. This is called steatohepatitis, or fatty liver. In time, chronic inflammation of the liver, or hepatitis, set in. While alcohol can cause hepatitis directly, it also appears to lower the body’s resistance to hepatitis B and hepatitis C viruses. According to a study in France, the risk of developing cirrhosis is twice as high in patients infected with hepatitis C virus [HCV] who are heavy drinkers as it is in HCV patients who are moderate drinkers. It is recommended that HCV-positive individuals drink very little alcohol or none at all. If unchecked, inflammation causes cells to burst and die. Compounding this damage, alcohol seems to trigger the natural system of programmed cell death called apoptosis.
     The final stage is cirrhosis. The vicious cycle of continuous inflammation and cell destruction causes irreversible scarring. Eventually, the liver becomes lumpy, instead of remaining spongy. Finally, scar tissue prevents blood from flowing normally, leading to liver failure and death.
    Alcohol’s effect on the liver has another insidious side effect –the liver is less capable of playing its defensive role in counteracting the effect of cancer-forming agents. In addition to favoring the development of cancer of the liver, alcohol greatly increases the risk of cancer of the mouth, the pharynx, the larynx, and the esophagus. What is more, alcohol makes the mucous membranes in the mouth more easily penetrated by cancerous substances in tobacco, elevating the risk for smokers. Women who drink daily are at a greater risk of breast cancer. According to one study, the risk for those who drank three or more alcoholic beverages per day was 69 percent higher than that of nondrinkers.   

Tuesday, 25 April 2017



          Bone has been described as an engineering masterpiece of tensile, compressive and elastic strength.
         The human skeleton consists of approximately 206 bones and 68 joints. The largest bone is the femur, or thighbone; the smallest is the stapes, a bone inside your ear. As skilled gymnasts clearly demonstrate, bones, muscles, cartilage, and joints can give a healthy body an astonishing degree of flexibility and range of movement. The thumb alone would convince anyone that the architect of our body [whoever that may be to each one of us].
       Bones can also take an incredible pounding. They are constructed in exactly the same way that reinforced concrete is constructed. The steel of reinforced concrete provides the tensile strength, while the cement, sand, and rock provide the compressional strength. However, the compressional strength of bone is greater than that of even the best reinforced concrete. We only wish we could mimic it” said Robert o. Ritchie, a professor of materials science at the University of California, Berkeley, U.S.A.
      Unlike concrete, bone is an essential part of countless living organisms. And it is dynamic. It is able to repair itself, respond to hormones that affect its growth and development, and even play a key role in the manufacture of blood cells. Also, like muscle, it slowly grows stronger as the load on it increases. Hence, athletes have heavier bones than so-called couch potatoes.   

Monday, 24 April 2017


           Scientists have long known that the eyes of mammals contain neurons that respond to light and set the body’s internal, or circadian, clock. It was long assumed that this light-sensing function was performed by known visual cells called rods and cones. But in 1999, report the journal Science, researchers found that “mutant mice lacking all rods and cones [who are thus functionally blind] still have light-responsive clocks.” This led researchers to the conclusion that “some other cells in the eye had to be sensing light”
          Now these elusive light sensors have been found. Although intermingled with the image-forming rods and cones, the sensors form “a separate visual circuit, running in parallel with this image-forming visual system,” explains Science. The newly discovered circuit’s functions include governing pupil size and melatonin release, synchronizing the body’s internal clock with the cycle of light and dark and other tasks. It may even play a role in the modulation of mood.
         Significantly, the light sensors do not respond to brief flashes of light, lest they confuse the body clock, but only to longer changes in luminance levels. One scientist described the discovery as “spectacular,” adding that “it is the biggest break yet in the question of what is the photoreceptor in mammals.”

Friday, 21 April 2017



         SOME physicians in Japan say there is an increase in the number of babies who neither cry nor smile. Pediatrician Satoshi Yanagisawa calls them silent babies. Why do the babies stop expressing their emotions? Some doctors believe that the condition arises because babies are deprived of parental contact. The condition is called enforced helplessness. One theory suggests that when needs for communication are constantly ignored or misinterpreted, the infants eventually give up trying.
       If a baby is not given proper stimulations at the right time, the part of his brain that makes him emphatic may not develop, suggests Dr. Bruce Perry, chief of psychiatry at Texas Children’s Hospital. In cases of profound emotional neglect, capacity to feel empathy may be irretrievably lost. Dr. Perry believes that in some case substance abuse and adolescent violence can be linked to such early life experiences.
      Queensland researchers who studies almost 4000 Brisbane children found that, on the whole, those who were breastfed had higher IQs. Professor Jake Najman of the University of Queensland said: The longer the mother breastfed, the higher the intelligence of the child. It’s not just a small advantage that the breastfed children have; it’s about eight IQ points, which is quite a substantial advantage. It’s the difference between being an average child and being a reasonably bright child. Another possible advantage of breastfeeding is that it may be a factor in reducing by up to 30% a child’s risk of becoming obese. According to lactation consultant Joy Heads, there are very few waste products in breastmilk, which is almost perfectly utilized. You can have a big, chubby breast-fed baby and there is no problem with that at all. But a fat, bottle-fed baby has a higher chance of being obese later in life.   


  Many mysteries abound in Africa; many of them are unexplainable even with science advancement and technological greatness. ...