Category Archives: Health

Swipe left for sadness: Reminder users report more grief

Swiping through Tinder may be taking a toll on your mental health and self-esteem: A new study finds that Tinder users had lower levels of self-esteem and more body dissatisfaction than people who didn’t use the dating app.

The reason may have to do with the fact that a person’s looks play a major role in Tinder. People accept or reject potential matches based primarily on photos, and sometimes, a short description. And this type of judgment can take a toll, the study found.

Both male and female Tinder users in the study experienced low self-esteem, body shame and negative moods, said lead study author Jessica Strubel, an assistant professor of textiles, merchandising and design at the University of Rhode Island, whose research includes looking at the effects of body image on decision-making. [13 Scientifically Proven Signs You’re in Love]

Strubel has studied the links between Tinder and self-esteem before. In astudy published online earlier this year, she found that male Tinder users had lower self-esteem than men who weren’t on the app.

In the new study, which was presented here today (Aug. 3) at the American Psychological Association’s annual meeting, Strubel and her team again looked at college-age Tinder users — more than 700 female and 120 male students.

Ultimately, they found the same thing as the previous study, with one difference, Strubel told Live Science: Both men and women had similar negative responses, she said. The new study also looked at more factors, including whether Tinder use was associated with a person’s mood and eating habits.

In addition to providing information about their Tinder use, the people in the study also answered questions about their mood, level of body satisfaction, self-esteem, perceived societal pressures to look a certain way and body shame.

About 17 percent of the people in the study used Tinder. Compared with those who didn’t use the app, Tinder users were more likely to report negative feelings. For example, relative to nonusers, Tinder users were more likely to compare themselves to others, feel pressures to look a certain way and experience negative moods.

The researchers also looked at whether Tinder users were more likely to change their eating habits, or “dietary intent.” Here, however, they found no difference between users and nonusers. Dietary intent is related to a person’s body satisfaction, Strubel said. If a person isn’t happy with their body, what will the subsequent behaviors be? she said. But in this case, the findings showed that just because a person is dissatisfied doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re going to change their eating habits.

Still, Strubel stressed that she’s not telling people to stop using Tinder. “I understand … this is the dating world now,” she said. “But we can’t deny what the science says: There are some psychological ramifications to this.”

To limit the possible negative effects of using Tinder, Strubel recommended keeping things in perspective when using the app. For example, keep in mind that the photos you see of others don’t always represent reality; instead, they show a person at their very best.

Scientists Have Removed Heart Disease Defects on Human Embryos

A group of scientists in Oregon has successfully modified the genes of embryos using CRISPR, a cut-and-paste gene-editing tool, in order to correct a genetic mutation known to cause a type of heart defect.

The experiments, which were described today (Aug. 2) in the journal Nature, were conducted by biologist Shoukhrat Mitalipov and colleagues at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland. Mitalipov conducted the experiments on dozens of single-celled embryos, which were discarded before they could progress very far in development, MIT Technology Review reported last week when the results were initially leaked. This is the first time that scientists in the United States have used this approach to edit the genes of embryos.

The CRISPR/Cas9 gene-editing system is a simple “cut and replace” method for editing precise spots on the genome. CRISPRS are long stretches of DNA that are recognized by molecular “scissors” called Cas9; by inserting CRISPR DNA near target DNA, scientists can theoretically tell Cas9 to cut anywhere in the genome. Scientists can then swap a replacement gene sequence in the place of the snipped sequence. The replacement sequence then gets automatically incorporated into the genome by natural DNA repair mechanisms.

In 2015, a group in China used CRISPR to edit several human embryos that had severe defects, though none were allowed to gestate very long before being discarded. The Chinese technique led to genetic changes in some, but not all of the cells in the embryos, and CRISPR sometimes snipped out the wrong place in the DNA.

The new results are a major advance compared with earlier efforts. In the new experiments, scientists eliminated the off-target effects of CRISPR/cas9.

The team used dozens of embryos that were created for in vitro fertilization (IVF), using the sperm of men who had a severe genetic defect. The sperm contained a single copy of the gene MYBPC3, which confers a risk of sudden death and heart failure due to thickening of the heart muscle known as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

In the new experiment, the team used Crispr/Cas9 to snip DNA at the location of the defective MYBPC3 gene in the fertilized eggs. Most of the embryos naturally repaired the break in the DNA by substituting the normal version of the gene, which originated in the egg. About two-thirds of the embryos did not contain the mutated version of the gene; and the team also eliminated the risk that some, but not all, of the cells in the embryos contained the edited genes.

In general, editing the germ line — meaning sperm, eggs or embryos — has been controversial, because it means permanently changing the DNA that is passed on from one generation to the next. Some scientists have called for a ban on germ-line editing, saying the approach is incredibly risky and ethically dubious.

However, a National Academy of Sciences report published earlier this year suggested that embryo editing could be ethical in the case of severe genetic diseases, assuming the risks could be mitigated.

After Terrorist Attacks, Too Much TV Can Be Dangerous

During a terrorist attack, it may be best to avoid wall-to-wall news coverage, a new study suggests.

Watching television news coverage during terrorist events was associated with higher levels of post-traumatic stress and feelings ofdepression as well as decreased feelings of safety, the researchers found.

In the study, which was presented here today (Aug. 3) at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association, the researchers focused on a terrorist event that captured news coverage in 2002: a series of sniper attacks in the Washington, D.C., area that killed 10 people and left three others wounded. Local media covered the events extensively as they unfolded. [7 Ways Depression Differs in Men and Women]

“We understand that [the] media plays a critical role in people’s feelings of safety or feelings of threat in the environment,” said lead study author Holly Mash, a research assistant professor of psychiatry at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland.

Mash and her colleagues had more than 1,200 people complete online questionnaires about their moods and feelings during the sniper attacks. In addition, the researchers collected data on how much sniper-related TV the people watched each day. The surveys were conducted three weeks after the initial attack but before the two perpetrators were caught.

About 40 percent of the people who completed the surveys reported that they watched at least 2 hours of sniper-related TV each day during the course of the attacks, which lasted for about three weeks, the researchers found.

And the more television a person watched, the more likely the individual was to report symptoms of post-traumatic stress and depression, Mash said. Post-traumatic stress symptoms include negative thoughts,nightmares and avoidance behavior. Depressions symptoms include depressed mood, trouble concentrating, difficultly sleeping and lack of interest in things the person typically enjoys.

The researchers thought that the post-traumatic stress and depression symptoms could stem from feeling less safe, Mash told Live Science. In other words, the less safe a person feels, the more likely he or she is to report symptoms of post-traumatic stress or depression.

And watching more sniper-related TV coverage was also associated with decreased feelings of safety, the researchers found.

Though the study focused on an event that took place in 2002, Mash noted that constant media coverage of terrorist attacks has become a bigger issue since that time. In addition to television coverage, there’s constant internet coverage, which can include unfiltered and sometimes incorrect information, she said.

The findings have implications for media exposure, Mash said, adding that she recommends limiting exposure to only pertinent information about an attack. Still, “that’s tough,” she added.

Western Men See Drop in Sperm Counts, But The Cause Is Still Unknown

Sperm counts among men in Western countries have dropped considerably in the last several decades, according to a new study.

Researchers analyzed information from 185 previous studies involving a total of more than 42,000 men in 50 countries. These men had all given semen samples for research, but typically not for reasons related to fertility problems. For example, some were college students, or were men who were undergoing health screenings before entering military service.

The results showed that, from 1973 to 2011, there was a decline of more than 50 percent in sperm counts among men living in North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand.

The researchers said that they cannot determine from their data what might have caused the decline, but it could be related to environmental or lifestyle factors. The findings are concerning, not only because men’s sperm counts are linked with their chances of conceiving a child, but also because poor sperm counts have been linked with a number of other poor health outcomes, including an increased risk of early death. [Trying to Conceive: 12 Tips for Men]

“Given the importance of sperm counts for male fertility and human health, this study is an urgent wake-up call for researchers and health authorities around the world to investigate the causes of the sharp ongoing drop in sperm count, with the goal of prevention,” Dr. Hagai Levine, lead author of the study and head of the Environmental Health Track at the Hebrew University-Hadassah Braun School of Public Health and Community Medicine in Israel, said in a statement.

Although previous research had suggested there has been a decline in men’s sperm count in recent years, the question of whether sperm counts are really dropping remained controversial. The new study is broader and more rigorous in design than previous research, and took into account factors that might explain drops in sperm count, such as age and the method of semen collection, the researchers said.

The researchers did not find a similar decline in sperm counts among men living in South America, Asia and Africa. But they noted that there have been fewer studies on sperm counts on men living in these areas, so it’s possible that there has been a decline that has gone undetected, the researchers said.

Some factors that have been linked with lower sperm counts include chemical exposures in the womb, exposures to pesticides, smoking, stress and obesity.

“Thus, a decline in sperm count might be considered as a ‘canary in the coal mine’ for male health across the lifespan,” the researchers wrote in their paper, published July 25 in the journal Human Reproduction Update. “Our report of a continuing and robust decline should, therefore, trigger research into its causes,” they said.

Penis Enlarger Leads Human Death! Here’s his Explanation

A man in Sweden died just after penis enlargement surgery, according to a new report of the case.

As a part of the procedure, doctors injected fat into the healthy 30-year-old man’s penis, according to the report, written by pathologists who examined the man’s body after his death. Some of this fat entered the man’s veins, and then traveled through the blood to his lungs. When fat droplets enter the small blood vessels in the lungs, they can cause blockages, and the body can’t properly absorb oxygen, leading to death.

This type of blockage, called a fat embolism, is a known risk of moving fat from one part of the body to another, said Dr. Lee Zhao, a urologist at NYU Langone Health in New York City, who was not involved in the man’s case. Still, “it’s an extremely rare event,” Zhao added. [8 Wild Facts About the Penis]

But it’s not clear from the case report exactly where in the penis the fat was injected, Zhao told Live Science.

“The penis works by filling erectile tissue with blood,” Zhao said. “If the fat was injected into the erectile tissue, then the risk of fat embolism would be much higher.” Instead, fat should be injected just under the skin of the penis, rather than into this tissue. But it’s unclear whether the plastic surgeon involved in the man’s case “inadvertently” injected the fat into the erectile tissue, he said.

Zhao also noted that this type of “penile enhancement” surgery had limited benefits.

The type of procedure that the man had involves two steps, Zhao said. During the first step, surgeons cut a penis ligament called the suspensory ligament, which makes the penis appear longer in its flaccid state. In the second step, the surgeons inject fat to increase the bulk of the penis.

Neither part of the surgery improves a man’s erectile function; instead, the procedure alters only the appearance of the penis when it is flaccid, Zhao said. In addition, the procedure may in fact have a negative impact on sexual function, because doctors need to cut the suspensory ligament. This “ligament acts to allow the penis to aim forward, and cutting [it] can cause the penis [to] hang downwards,” Zhao said.

It’s not clear how many patients undergo this type of surgery in the U.S., Zhao said. Because the procedure is generally not covered by insurance, many patients opt to have the operation in other countries, where it may be cheaper, he said.

“I specialize in treating the complications of this procedure, and I find that many of my patients had surgery in Mexico,” Zhao added.

Will talcum powder Could cause ovarian cancer?

Some people may sprinkle on powder after showering and never think much of it. But recent court cases have shined a spotlight on the possible link between women’s regular use of talcum powder on their genitals and an increased risk of developing ovarian cancer.

Yesterday (Aug. 21), a jury in Los Angeles ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay a record $417 million to a woman who claims that the company’s baby powder led to her ovarian cancer. The woman, Eva Echeverria, said in the lawsuit that she developed ovarian cancer as a “proximate result of the unreasonably dangerous and defective nature of talcum powder,” according to the Associated Press. (Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder is made from talcum powder or talc, which is a mineral made up of magnesium, silicon and oxygen.)

In a case that was settled in February, a jury determined that the family of a 62-year-old Alabama woman, who died from ovarian cancer in 2015 after decades of using talcum powder for feminine hygiene, was entitled to $72 million in damages from Johnson & Johnson. The company did not inform customers of the potential dangers of its powders despite being aware of the possible health risks, the jury ruled, according to The Washington Post.

In an earlier case against the same manufacturer, a jury in 2013 found Johnson & Johnson guilty of negligence for not warning women of the risk of ovarian cancer linked to the daily use of the company’s talc-based powders. However, the jury in this case did not award the woman who developed the cancer any monetary damages.

Although these lawsuits have resulted in more publicity about a potential connection between women’s use of talcum powder as a feminine hygiene product, the suggestion of a possible association has been raised in scientific circles for more than 30 years. (Such use means applying powders directly on women’s’ genitals, or on sanitary napkins, tampons, underwear or diaphragms.)

It’s a controversial topic because manufacturers claim there is no causal connection between talc use and ovarian cancer, and researchhas demonstrated conflicting results. [5 Things Women Should Know About Ovarian Cancer]

The American Cancer Society has weighed in on the available science, and said that the “findings have been mixed.” Some studies report a slightly increased risk of ovarian cancer among women who have regularly used talcum powder in their genital areas, while other studies have found no increased risk, the society said.

Based on limited evidence, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, which is part of the World Health Organization, has designated women’s use of talc on their genitals as “possibly carcinogenic to humans.”

Some, but not all powders, such as baby powders and body powders, contain talc, a mineral that may help prevent odor, moisture and chafing when applied to the skin. Before the 1970s, talc products may have contained asbestos, now a known carcinogen, but since then, talcum powders are required by law to be asbestos-free.

Cornstarch-based powders, which have no talc in them, are considered safe for women to use on the genital area and have no known link withany female cancers. And there’s no evidence that sprinkling talc-based powders on other parts of a woman’s body, such as on her feet or her back, influences ovarian cancer risk.

Arguing for strong evidence

Dr. Daniel Cramer, a professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive biology at Harvard Medical School and director of the OB/GYN Epidemiology Center at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, conducted one of the earliest studies to suggest a link between genital talc use in women and cancer of the ovaries. That research was published in 1982.

Since then, Cramer’s studies have been among those finding a link between women’s regular use of talc and an increased risk of ovarian cancer.

In his opinion, there is strong evidence from about two-dozen epidemiological studies for a significant association between genital talc use and ovarian cancer, Cramer told Live Science. These studies have found that regular talc use may increase a woman’s overall risk of ovarian cancer by about 30 percent, Cramer said.

It has been only in more recent studies that a dose-response effect has been observed in premenopausal women, especially nonsmokers and women who are heavier, and in postmenopausal women who used hormone therapy, Cramer said. A dose-response means that a woman’s risk for ovarian cancer appeared to increase the longer she used talc on her genitals or the more applications she had used over time, he explained.

One factor that has been hard for researchers to quantify is how much talc each woman uses in each application, and how much of it gets into the vagina, Cramer told Live Science. [5 Myths About Women’s Bodies]

Talc is a potent inflammatory agent, and chronic inflammation may predispose a person to cancer, said Cramer, who served as an expert witness in one of the recent court cases and provided written testimony in another. He said that pathologists who have examined tissue from the ovaries of cancer patients under a microscope have found that there is talc in the tissue. The mineral has also been found in women who don’t have ovarian cancer; talc can be found in tissue from lymph nodes in women who have used talcum powder on their genitals.

The exact mechanism by which talc may promote the development of ovarian cancer in women is not known. But Cramer said he suspects that when talc is applied to the genitals, the mineral’s particles can get into the vagina and eventually make their way into the upper genital tract, where the ovaries are located. Once there, talc can induce a potent inflammatory response and probably disrupt the immune system, he said.

Hormones, such as estrogen, may also play a role in the development of ovarian cancer in some women who use talc, but more studies are needed to tease out this effect, Cramer said.

Focus on other risks.

The scientific evidence for a link between women’s use of talcum powder and ovarian cancer is not that strong, said Dr. Sarah Temkin, an associate professor of gynecological oncology at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore. Two newer prospective studies have failed to show any difference in ovarian cancer risk between women who used talc on their genitals and those who never did so, she said.

The older studies that suggested an increased risk tended to be case-control studies, which are open to more bias because they involve asking women to recall their use of powder after they have been diagnosed with cancer, Temkin said.

She said she does not think the evidence is strong enough to warrant forcing manufacturers to place a warning label on talcum powder to alert women to a possible health risk from using the product.

Ovarian cancer is a rare disease, and two well-established risk factors for it are a family history of ovarian cancer and a family history of breast cancer, Temkin told Live Science. Scientists have known about these two links for decades, and even so, health providers may miss the opportunity to inform women who have these risk factors about opportunities for genetic counseling, she said.

It’s also known that women who have used birth control pills for at least five years may reduce their risk for developing ovarian cancer by about 50 percent compared with women who have never used such oral contraceptives, Temkin added. [7 Surprising Facts About the Pill]

She typically does not ask her ovarian cancer patients about their talc use when taking a medical history, Temkin said, and women don’t usually ask her many questions about it. However, with news stories about recent court verdicts making headlines, two or three women have inquired about the use of talc, she said.

Friends with Ex Check Your First Motive, Science Says

Can you really stay friends with an ex? It depends on why you want to continue the relationship, a new study finds.

Staying friends with an ex is a “very pervasive phenomenon,” said lead study author Rebecca Griffith, a master’s student in psychology at the University of Kansas. Indeed, previous research suggests that about 60 percent of people maintain a friendship after a breakup, Griffith said.

But these friendships aren’t always successful.

In the study, the researchers developed a way to examine the reasons why a person might stay in a friendship after ending a romantic relationship. In one experiment, which included more than 170 women and more than 110 men, the researchers tried out this new measurement technique, which consisted of several questionnaires. In a second experiment, with nearly 300 women and nearly 250 men, the researchers confirmed that the questionnaires worked. [The Science of Breakups: 7 Facts About Splitsville]

The researchers found that are four main reasons that someone stays friends with an ex after a breakup, said Griffith, who presented the study here on Aug. 4 at the American Psychological Association’s annual meeting.

The first reason is security, Griffith told Live Science. This could mean that a person stays friends with an ex because he or she doesn’t want to lose the ex’s emotional support, advice or trust.

The second reason is that it’s practical to maintain a friendship: Perhaps there are financial reasons to stay friends, or children may be involved, Griffith said.

Third, there’s civility. A person may want to be polite and not hurt the other persons’ feelings, Griffith said.

Finally, some people may still have romantic feelings for an ex.

The researchers found that the reason people choose to remain friends is associated with how long the friendship will last and how positive it will be.

People who stayed friends for practical and civility reasons fared the best, the study found. These friendships lasted long and were considered to be positive, Griffith said. (A positive relationship meant that the friendship made a person feel secure and happy, and a negative relationship meant the person had negative feelings including depression, jealously or a broken heart.)

When people remained friends for reasons related to security, the resulting friendships tended to be positive, the study found. However, security reasons weren’t associated with whether the friendship lasted for a long or short period of time.

As for unresolved romantic desires, this reason was associated with more negative feelings, but “paradoxically,” longer friendships, Griffith said. In other words, “even though you’re not reaping any benefits from the friendship, you tend to stay in [it] longer,” she said.

Broadly speaking, two of the reasons that a person may stay friends with an ex are related to emotional needs (security and unresolved romantic desires) and two of the reasons are not (practical reasons and civility), Griffith said. It’s the non-emotional reasons that are ultimately linked to a more successful friendship, she said.

Ebola Can Survive in Men Cement For More Than 2 Years

Ebola may linger in men’s semen for more than two years, a new study suggests.

What’s more, at least one man who survived Ebola and then tested negative for the presence of the virus in his semen later tested positive, the new study found.

The findings raise questions about how long Ebola can linger in special immune hideouts in the body. However, the new findings only show some men carry RNA or genetic material from Ebola long after recovering from the disease. They don’t necessarily mean all men who test positive for Ebola RNA are still capable of transmitting the virus. [What Are the Long-Term Effects of Ebola?]

Ebola virus is a rare and deadly virus that starts with common flu-like symptoms, such as fever, muscle and joint pain, and headache, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As the virus progresses, however, people suffer from extreme diarrhea and vomiting, and in the late stages of the disease, people’s blood vessels may become leaky, causing bleeding from the rectum, nose or mouth. People infected with the virus can transmit it through bodily fluids — such as blood, vomit, diarrhea or semen — and are infectious only once they start showing symptoms of the disease. Between 2014 and 2016, there were nearly 30,000 cases of Ebola reported in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia, according to the World Health Organization. Many of the people who survive the initial deadly phase of the disease may still face lingering problems, such as headache, vision problems, fatigue, joint pain and hearing loss, a 2015 study in the New England Journal of Medicine found.

The finding that Ebola can linger in semen even after men recover from the infection is not a surprise to researchers. Studies of men in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea after the 2014-2016 Ebola outbreak found that anywhere from 28 percent to 100 percent of men harbored the RNA, or genetic material, from the Ebola virus in their semen up to three months after infection. Another study found that a minority of men who contracted the virus tested positive for Ebola in their semen seven to nine months after recovering from the infection. In 2015, scientists reported that a man who had recovered from the disease six months earlier had transmitted Ebola to a sexual partner.

The World Health Organization currently recommends that people who recover from the virus be tested for any lingering presence of Ebola RNA three months after recovering, and then again until the test is negative on two consecutive monthly tests. If men have not been tested, they should abstain from sex for 12 months, or use condoms every time they have sex, according to WHO guidelines.

Another study found that a man transmitted the virus to his partner more than 500 days after he began showing symptoms of the illness.

But exactly how long does the virus linger in reservoirs in the body — and for how long can it be transmitted?

To answer that question, Dr. William Fischer II, a critical care specialist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and colleagues analyzed semen donated by 149 men who had recovered from the virus up to almost three years earlier.

They found that 13 of these men tested positive for the presence of Ebola RNA; 11 of these men had recovered more than two years earlier. One of the 13 men tested positive for Ebola RNA after having tested negative on two prior occasions, the researchers reported July 22 in thejournal Open Forum Infectious Diseases. The men who tested positive for Ebola virus in their semen were, on average, older than men who never tested positive. In addition, they were likelier to report the post-Ebola symptoms of vision problems and fatigue, compared with men who tested negative, the study found.

The significance of the findings is still not clear, the researchers noted in the paper.

“While the persistence of EBOV [Ebola virus] RNA in semen is concerning, it is not known if the detection of EBOV RNA in genital fluids is a surrogate for the presence of infectious virus,” the researchers wrote in the paper.

But the prolonged presence of Ebola virus RNA in men should prompt organizations to rethink their sexual transmission prevention guidelines, the researchers wrote. Further research should aim to eliminate Ebola that may be hiding in these reservoirs, the authors added.

One possibility is that Ebola may hide in specific spots in the body that are somewhat protected from the immune system, such as the eye and the testes, the researchers wrote. These “privileged” areas of the body are less prone to inflammatory attack by the immune system when foreign substances are found. The fact that men who reported vision issues after their recovery were likelier to harbor Ebola RNA seems to bolster this notion, the researchers wrote.

As people age, perhaps their immune system becomes less robust, the researchers suggested. Their weakened immune systems may enable the Ebola virus to hide out in these certain immune-privileged sites, such as the testes.

However, figuring out how to provide new information on how to prevent the sexual transmission of Ebola, without making things worse for Ebola survivors, could prove tricky, the researchers noted.

“For many survivors, the physical manifestations of the disease have been compounded by the stigma encountered with their return to their communities,” the researchers wrote in their paper. “Survivor messaging regarding viral persistence, if demonstrated, must provide information that can be used to protect loved ones but at the same time not risk further ostracizing by society.”

How Football Affects the Brain

A study of the brains of more than 200 deceased football players — including 111 who played in the National Football League (NFL) — reveals that nearly 90 percent of the players had a brain disease called chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

CTE is likely caused by repeated blows to the head, according to the Mayo Clinic. People with the condition get worse over time and can develop symptoms such as learning difficulties, memory loss and depression.

But CTE can be definitively diagnosed only after a person has died, during an examination of the person’s brain, according to researchers at Boston University’s CTE Center, who conducted the new study. [Images: Brains with CTE]

In the study, published today (July 25) in the journal JAMA, researchers found evidence of CTE in 177 out of 202 brains, or 87 percent of the individuals. Among the brains of NFL players, 110 out of 111, or 99 percent, had CTE. (The other men who had donated their brains for the study played football either semiprofessionally, or in college or high school.)

CTE ranges in severity from mild to severe. Among the former NFL players in the study, the disease was “frequently severe,” the researchers found, with 71 percent of these players having severe CTE.

To learn about the symptoms the players may have had before they died, the researchers interviewed people close to the players, such as spouses or adult children. These interviews were completed for 111 of the donors in the study.

The researchers found that 96 percent of the men with severe CTE and 89 percent of those with mild CTE had shown changes in their behavior or mood, including impulsivity, depression, apathy and anxiety. In addition, they found that 95 percent of the men with severe CTE and 85 percent of those with mild cases of the condition had shown changes in their thinking abilities, such as problems with memory, attention and language.

Interviews with people close to the men also revealed that nearly all of the players’ cases of CTE were progressive, meaning that their conditions got worse over time, the study said. However, the researchers noted that they could not confirm that the disease was progressive based only on examining the players’ brains, as this provided only a snapshot in time of the disease.

The donor brains in the study came from players who played a wide range of positions on the field, including lineman, quarterback and kicker. (Different positions come with different likelihoods of being tackled.) Donors had played football for 15 years, on average.

Overall, the findings suggest that CTE “may be related to prior participation in football,” the researchers wrote in the study.

The researchers noted that the study had limitations. For example, the researchers said, donors in the study and their families may have made the decision to donate because they were aware of CTE and thought the players may have had symptoms of the disease.

More Than Two-Thirds Patients Have Opioid Time After Surgery

Most patients who are prescribed opioids after surgery don’t take all of the prescribed pills, leaving leftover opioids that could be used inappropriately, a new review of studies finds.

Between 67 percent and 92 percent of the patients included in the review reported that, after a surgical procedure, they had unused opioids left over from a prescription. In addition, more than 70 percent of the patients in the review said they stored the leftover drugs in an unlocked location, such as a medicine cabinet, according to the review, published today (Aug. 2) in the journal JAMA Surgery.

An estimated 3.8 million Americans use opioids improperly each month, according to the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, an annual survey on drug use. And more than half of the people who misused the drugs said they got the pills from a friend or relative in at least one of the following ways: They were given the pills for free, they paid for them or they took them without asking, according to the review. [America’s Opioid-Use Epidemic: 5 Startling Facts]

Surgery is often the first time a person is given a prescription for opioids, the authors, led by Dr. Mark Bicket, an assistant professor of anesthesiology and critical care at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, wrote.

Patients who are prescribed opioids for the first time after having surgery may “inadvertently transition” into chronic users of the drugs, which include OxyContin and Vicodin, the researchers wrote. But it’s also possible that patients do not use all of the opioids prescribed but do not get rid of the drugs. As a result, these pills could be taken improperly, the researchers said.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends returning leftover opioids to the pharmacy or a drug take-back program, or flushing the medication down the sink or toilet.

In the review, the researchers looked at data from six studies that included, in total, more than 800 patients. The people in the studies wereprescribed opioids after having one of seven types of surgery, including cesarean sections and orthopedic surgeries, between January 2011 and December 2016.

The researchers found that a minority of patients (up to 21 percent) reported that they never filled their opioid prescription, and that another small group (7 to 14 percent of patients) reported filling the prescription but never taking the painkillers.

When patients did fill their prescription and used the opioids, many pills went unused, the researchers found: 42 to 71 percent of the pills dispensed were not taken. The main reasons people said they didn’t take all of the opioid painkillers were that they weren’t in pain or they were concerned about side effects. Only one of the studies in the review asked patients if they were concerned about becoming addicted to the drugs; 8 percent of the people in that study said yes.

The researchers also focused on how people stored and disposed of their opioids. Up to 77 percent, they found, kept the medicine in unlocked locations. A minority of patients (between 4 and 30 percent) planned to dispose of, or actually disposed of, the unused pills.

Safely storing opioids is important, the researchers wrote in the review. Making the drugs less accessible reduces the risk that other household members, such as adolescents, will misuse the painkillers, the researchers said.

However, the researchers noted that the review had several limitations. For example,the studies varied in how they gathered information on opioid use and not all of the studies asked the participants if they had used the drugs in the past. Including additional studies that focused on more types of surgery would strengthen the findings, they said.