Tag Archives: people

Arts can help recovery from illness and keep people well, report says

GPs prescribing arts activities to some ill patients could lead to a dramatic fall in hospital admissions and save the NHS money, according to a new report into the subject of arts, health and wellbeing published after two years of evidence-gathering.

The inquiry report was published on Wednesday; a huge document that includes hundreds of interviews and dozens of case studies showing how powerfully the arts can contribute to people’s health and wellbeing.

David Shrigley illustration


Illustration: David Shrigley

Co-chaired by former arts ministers Alan Howarth and Ed Vaizey, the all-party inquiry contends that the arts can keep people well, aid recovery from illness, help people to live longer, better lives and save money in health and social services.

Lord Howarth said it was a comprehensive review of evidence that had never been produced before. “Sceptics say where is the evidence of the efficacy of the arts in health? Where is the evidence of the value for money it can provide? We show it in this report.

“The arts can help people take responsibility for their own health and wellbeing in ways that will be crucial to the health of the nation.”

Art helps you see


Illustration: David Shrigley

The report was welcomed by the current arts minister, John Glen, appointed five weeks ago. He pledged to act on its recommendations, saying: “This sort of work isn’t window-dressing, please don’t be cynical about it. It gives a dataset and some real stories that we can use as we go through the treacle of Whitehall.”

The case studies include an Artlift arts-on-prescription project in Gloucestershire where patients with a wide range of conditions, from depression to chronic pain to stroke, were referred to an eight-week course involving poetry, ceramics, drawing, mosaic or painting.

A cost-benefit analysis showed a 37% drop in GP consultation rates and a 27% reduction in hospital admissions. That represents an NHS saving of £216 per patient.

The Strokestra project between the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Hull stroke service running a music-making service for patients


The Strokestra project between the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Hull stroke service running a music-making service for patients.

Strokestra, a collaboration between the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Hull stroke service, found that 86% of patients felt music-making sessions – which included percussion and conducting – relieved their symptoms and improved their sleep.

The report also includes contributions from artists including David Shrigley, who has provided illustrations, and Grayson Perry, who writes: “Making and consuming art lifts our spirits and keeps us sane. Art, like science and religion, helps us make meaning from our lives, and to make meaning is to make us feel better.”

Howarth said there were many examples of good practice and innovation around the UK, but also areas where little was going on.

'The arts' sun shining on a sunflower


Illustration: David Shrigley

“We are calling for an informed and open-minded willingness to accept that the arts can make a significant contribution to addressing a number of the pressing issues faced by our health and social care systems.”

The report makes 10 “modest and feasible” recommendations that would not need additional public spending or require new legislation, the report authors said.

They include setting up a philanthropically funded strategic centre to support good practice, promote collaboration and coordinate research.

There are also recommendations about politicians and policymakers from different areas working better together, something Vaizey acknowledged was an issue.

Arts minister for six years until being sacked by Theresa May, Vaizey added: “I was very conscious as a minister that I worked in a silo and it was incredibly hard to break out of that silo, incredibly hard to engage with ministers from other government departments. The arts, almost more than any sector, is a classic example where silo working does not work.”

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing report is available here.

Arts can help recovery from illness and keep people well, report says

GPs prescribing arts activities to some ill patients could lead to a dramatic fall in hospital admissions and save the NHS money, according to a new report into the subject of arts, health and wellbeing published after two years of evidence-gathering.

The inquiry report was published on Wednesday; a huge document that includes hundreds of interviews and dozens of case studies showing how powerfully the arts can contribute to people’s health and wellbeing.

David Shrigley illustration


Illustration: David Shrigley

Co-chaired by former arts ministers Alan Howarth and Ed Vaizey, the all-party inquiry contends that the arts can keep people well, aid recovery from illness, help people to live longer, better lives and save money in health and social services.

Lord Howarth said it was a comprehensive review of evidence that had never been produced before. “Sceptics say where is the evidence of the efficacy of the arts in health? Where is the evidence of the value for money it can provide? We show it in this report.

“The arts can help people take responsibility for their own health and wellbeing in ways that will be crucial to the health of the nation.”

Art helps you see


Illustration: David Shrigley

The report was welcomed by the current arts minister, John Glen, appointed five weeks ago. He pledged to act on its recommendations, saying: “This sort of work isn’t window-dressing, please don’t be cynical about it. It gives a dataset and some real stories that we can use as we go through the treacle of Whitehall.”

The case studies include an Artlift arts-on-prescription project in Gloucestershire where patients with a wide range of conditions, from depression to chronic pain to stroke, were referred to an eight-week course involving poetry, ceramics, drawing, mosaic or painting.

A cost-benefit analysis showed a 37% drop in GP consultation rates and a 27% reduction in hospital admissions. That represents an NHS saving of £216 per patient.

The Strokestra project between the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Hull stroke service running a music-making service for patients


The Strokestra project between the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Hull stroke service running a music-making service for patients.

Strokestra, a collaboration between the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Hull stroke service, found that 86% of patients felt music-making sessions – which included percussion and conducting – relieved their symptoms and improved their sleep.

The report also includes contributions from artists including David Shrigley, who has provided illustrations, and Grayson Perry, who writes: “Making and consuming art lifts our spirits and keeps us sane. Art, like science and religion, helps us make meaning from our lives, and to make meaning is to make us feel better.”

Howarth said there were many examples of good practice and innovation around the UK, but also areas where little was going on.

'The arts' sun shining on a sunflower


Illustration: David Shrigley

“We are calling for an informed and open-minded willingness to accept that the arts can make a significant contribution to addressing a number of the pressing issues faced by our health and social care systems.”

The report makes 10 “modest and feasible” recommendations that would not need additional public spending or require new legislation, the report authors said.

They include setting up a philanthropically funded strategic centre to support good practice, promote collaboration and coordinate research.

There are also recommendations about politicians and policymakers from different areas working better together, something Vaizey acknowledged was an issue.

Arts minister for six years until being sacked by Theresa May, Vaizey added: “I was very conscious as a minister that I worked in a silo and it was incredibly hard to break out of that silo, incredibly hard to engage with ministers from other government departments. The arts, almost more than any sector, is a classic example where silo working does not work.”

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing report is available here.

I took drugs because it was a fast track way of meeting people | Anonymous

When I was 21 I went on holiday to Australia and met someone. We went back to his and for the first time I tried G and T (GHB and crystal meth). I thought, “why not, I’m on holiday”. It was fun, I went lightheaded and it lasted a few hours. After that, when I got home, I didn’t seek out more.

When I moved to London around six months later I met others who were doing it. But drugs for me back then were a social thing you would do in clubs. After three or four years, my social circle changed as friends moved away. I was going out less, but meeting people more. There was no regular pattern to my drug taking, it was just occasional fun.

Q&A

What is chemsex?

Chemsex is defined as the use of drugs before or during planned sexual activity to sustain, enhance, disinhibit or facilitate the experience. It is different to drug use which later leads to sexual activity because the drugs are taken – usually by gay or bisexual men – for the sole purpose of having sex.

The relatively recent phenomenon of chemsex parties, usually among gay or bisexual men, can involve sexual activity with multiple partners. They commonly involves the use of crystal methamphetamine, GHB/GBL and mephedrone, and can sometimes last for several days with little need for sleep or food. It carries serious physical and mental health risks, most significantly around the spread of blood-borne infections and viruses.

Then, aged 27 I was diagnosed with HIV. I didn’t have sex or take drugs for three years after my diagnosis. When I was ready to meet people again I felt like my options were limited because of my HIV status. And the way people were meeting had changed: apps made it easy to meet people and more people were taking drugs.

I’ve always tried to play it as safe as possible, but last summer it went apocalyptic. I went to a party, which I don’t like doing, and I felt really anxious. I took drugs there and ended up having an anxiety attack. From there I was taking drugs every weekend. There was a fear of missing out.

I went into recovery, and accessed counselling from Terrence Higgins Trust, but I relapsed and went back to it, meeting people in groups and lasting for days. I had more STIs more frequently and I know I could do a better job at work if I was more alert and more healthy.

I’ve had depression since I was 16. Drugs help me relax, but they can also be harmful because they give you an artificial sense of confidence. Today I want to stay away from this behaviour, and I think peer support is a good way to do it – speaking to people who are empathetic and have experience of what you are going through.

I don’t want to shut myself off and build a wall because when I feel better I might go back. The new online counselling project from Terrence Higgins Trust will give people support that is empathetic and not constrained by timings and locations.

My advice for anyone who finds themselves seeking support is to identify why they are doing it. For me it was because I felt like I’m damaged goods and as I don’t go out much any more it was a fast track way of meeting people. It’s all very well people telling you to stop – but first you need to know why you’re doing it in the first place.

The author spoke anonymously via Terence Higgins Trust. Terence Higgins Trust and London Friend have launched the first online counselling services for gay and bisexual men who want to make changes around drug and alcohol use and relationships. Working in a similar way to Skype, people can see their counsellor on the screen, or up to 10 people in a support group. The services are available from Friday to Monday. https://www.fridaymonday.org.uk/

Suicides by young people peak in exam season, report finds

Suicides among children and young adults peak at the beginning of exam season, it has emerged, adding to fears that pressure to get good results is harming their mental health.

Exams are sometimes the final straw that lead to someone under 25 taking their own life, according to a major inquiry. While experts pointed out that the causes of suicide are always complex, they said academic problems could play a significant role.

In England and Wales on average, 96 people aged under 25 take their own lives every year in April and May, while the next highest number – 88 – do so in September, when new students start at university.

Analysis of evidence heard at inquests shows that 63 (43%) of the 145 suicides among those aged under 20 in 2014-15 were experiencing academic pressures of different sorts before their death. Almost one in three – 46 (32%) – had exams at the time, or coming up soon, or were waiting for exam results.

A higher proportion of those aged 20-24 were facing “academic pressures overall” before their death (47%). However, that figure represents seven of the only 15 suicides in that age group among young people who were in education at the time.

Stephen Habgood, the chairman of Papyrus, a charity that tries to prevent under-35s taking their own lives, said youth suicide was a devastating social phenomena.

“We are particularly concerned about the pressures on young students. Transition from a settled home life to university, where young people feel a pressure to succeed, face changes in their circle of friends and feel the impact of financial difficulties, can put extreme pressure on a young person,” Habgood said.

He called on universities to reinstate counselling services for distressed students, which have been cut.

“We know that stress at school has a big impact on mental health, and this research suggests that it can be a significant factor when young people feel suicidal. Although the causes of suicide are multiple and complex, worries around exams can add to the pressure on those who are already struggling to cope,” said Sarah Brennan, the chief executive of Young Minds.

“Ministers should rebalance the education system to ensure that students’ wellbeing is given as much priority as their academic performance,” she added.

A decade-long fall in the number of youth suicides has reversed in recent years to the extent that more young people die that way than from any other cause, warned the authors of a University of Manchester report into suicide by children and young people. In all 922 under-25s took their own lives in England and Wales during 2014 and 2015. Suicide now accounts for 14% of all deaths in 10 to 19-year-olds and 21% of 20 to 34-year-olds.

However, the UK still has a relatively low rate of suicide by children and young people compared with other countries. Inside the UK, Scotland and Northern Ireland have more such deaths per capita than England or Wales.

Suicide rates fell from between five and six per 100,000 in the early 2000s to a low of 3.1 per 100,000 in 2010. But they rose again to 5.5 per 100,000 in 2015, Office of National Statistics data shows.

Around 125 youth suicides a year occur soon after the person involved has experienced a bereavement. One in four (25%) of under-20s and 28% of 20 to 24-year-olds had lost a relative, partner, friend or acquaintance around a year or more beforehand. In 11% of suicides among under-20s, the person who those involved had lost had also taken their own life.

“Suicide is the leading cause of death in young people in England and Wales. Although there is no single cause, bereavement was an important theme in many of the deaths we examined”, said Prof Louis Appleby, the inquiry’s director.

Of the 922 deaths Appleby and his team looked into, 708 (77%) had been judged at a coroner’s inquest to have been suicide, while the other 214 (23%) had ended with an undetermined or open conclusion.

Young people who have been bereaved need greater support to reduce the risk of them killing themselves, say the authors, who also want colleges and universities to give students’ psychological health a higher priority. Agencies who are meant to help young people are “poor” at recognising the risk of suicide among them, and need to improve, they add.

In the UK and Ireland, the Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123. Papyrus are contactable on 0800 068 41 41 or by texting 07786 209 697, or emailing pat@papyrus-uk.org. In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is on 13 11 14. Hotlines in other countries can be found here.

Stop making poor people mentally ill | Letters

I was moved by Deborah Orr’s capacity to entertain and inform when bravely writing about her own mental health problems and experience with antidepressants (I took my first antidepressant this week. The effects were frightening, 8 July). She draws attention to the “soaring demand” for NHS mental health services. I have worked with and for a single unemployed adult receiving antidepressants. His income was stopped by a three-month benefit sanction imposed by the jobcentre, creating unmanageable debt. He was immediately referred by his GP to the NHS for therapy.

The Department for Work and Pensions never considers the undeniable evidence that low income, let alone no income, creates mental and physical ill health. The Royal College of Psychiatrists has been telling governments for decades that low income and debt create mental health problems. The minds of ministers seem incapable of grasping that the prevention of ill health by the provision of adequate minimum incomes by the DWP is better than “soaring demand” for mental health services in the NHS, on humanitarian grounds alone, while the NHS would be relieved of £9bn poverty-related extra costs.
Rev Paul Nicolson
Taxpayers Against Poverty

Without diminishing in any way Deborah Orr’s experiences, I was prescribed citalopram two years ago for anxiety and depression. In that time my condition has improved immeasurably and I have suffered barely any side-effects. My treatment by the NHS in Wales was sensitive and open, and at no stage did I feel I had no voice. I am concerned that Ms Orr’s account may have deterred some people from taking up medication that could greatly improve their condition.
Neil Schofield
Cardiff

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‘Every crisis has a silver lining’: why Big Sur’s isolation is making people fitter

A community on the stretch of coastal California known as Big Sur has been largely cut off from the outside world since winter storms collapsed a bridge to the north and triggered landslides to the south, blocking the sole road.

For residents who remain, the only way in and out – bar helicopter – is on foot, via a steep, rugged hiking trail carved out of forested slopes. From dawn till dusk they use it get to and from school, work, grocery stores and other amenities.

Six months of huffing and puffing later the Big Sur health center has noticed something: all the exercise is making people healthier.

“Every crisis has a silver lining,” said Sharen Carey, the executive director. “People have lost weight. They’re improving their cardiovascular system. They’re sleeping better.”

One patient who had diabetes, and declined medication, is all but cured, she said. “He was required to walk the trail five days a week. Since February he has lost 24lb. His numbers went from diabetic to pre-diabetic. His blood pressure is normal. On paper he’s just about normal.”

Another patient with diabetes, and one with pre-diabetes, also showed marked improvement, said Carey. Many other patients reported simply feeling better and more energised.

“They’re getting outdoors and working. The ones who have lost weight have reported that they’re more energetic. Sleep, blood pressure, heart rate, they all benefit.”

The trail was a mile and a half – a three-mile round trip. That comprised about 4,000 steps which burned approximately 200 to 300 calories, said Carey, citing her Fitbit. “It doesn’t sound like much but it’s not just about burning calories, it’s getting your heart rate working.”

A new trail giving foot access to a cut-off part of Big Sur.


A new trail giving foot access to a cut-off part of Big Sur. Photograph: Rory Carroll for the Guardian

Residents interviewed on the trail agreed. John and Frances Hoeffel, retired lab technicians in their 70s, said they enjoyed the hike. They were returning from the library.

John and Frances Hoeffel returning home from a library visit.


John and Frances Hoeffel returning home from a library visit. Photograph: Rory Carroll

Others reported an additional benefit: commuting on foot via a narrow, winding trail rather than driving on the Pacific Coastal Highway has bolstered their sense of community.

“It’s been a leveller,” said Erin Gafill, whose family owns the Nepenthe restaurant. “We all have to walk that trail together. You get a sense of each other’s routines. We’re not as separated.” Long-term residents had newfound respect for how hard Latinos – who juggle multiple jobs – work, she said.

Erin Gafill at the Nepenthe restaurant.


Erin Gafill at the Nepenthe restaurant. Photograph: Rory Carroll

Her mother, Holly Gafill, agreed. “That trail is so intimate. You’re almost touching people if not hugging them because you haven’t seen them in ages. I look at the trail with so much gratitude.”

Few saw a bright side when torrential storms buried the highway in massive mudslides and washed away the Pfeiffer Canyon bridge, cutting off segments totalling 35 miles along Big Sur, a scenic coastal ribbon between San Francisco and Los Angeles which draws 3 million tourists a year.

The isolation has devastated hotels, restaurants and resorts, inflicting job losses and hardship.

Not all residents enjoy hiking the trail which emergency crews carved out of the hillsides in February.

“I find it pretty arduous, but then I’m overweight and I smoke cigarettes,” said Bill Crain, 56. “I paid a guy $ 50 to bring my cats back from the vet.”

Bill Crain hikes the trail about once a week.


Bill Crain hikes the trail about once a week. Photograph: Rory Carroll

Other neighbours grumbled too, he said, despite the benefit: “They may not like it but it’s good for them.”

Cubans experienced a similar phenomenon but on much more dramatic, painful scale in the 1990s when the economy collapsed, slashing food and gasoline consumption.

A new bridge is expected to open in September, restoring the tourist flow and letting residents once again drive to schools and amenities.

Yet the unexpected positive side effects of isolation have made some almost wistful about the experience. “I’ll be sort of sorry to see the bridge go back up,” said Carey. “We’re all hiking that trail all the time, but next year how many will still do it?”

Gafill, the restaurant owner, said the stillness and quiet harked back to the area’s bohemian 1950s era. “There will be a sense of loss when we go back (to normal) because we’ve gained so much – a return to a time when you had time.”

‘Every crisis has a silver lining’: why Big Sur’s isolation is making people fitter

A community on the stretch of coastal California known as Big Sur has been largely cut off from the outside world since winter storms collapsed a bridge to the north and triggered landslides to the south, blocking the sole road.

For residents who remain, the only way in and out – bar helicopter – is on foot, via a steep, rugged hiking trail carved out of forested slopes. From dawn till dusk they use it get to and from school, work, grocery stores and other amenities.

Six months of huffing and puffing later the Big Sur health center has noticed something: all the exercise is making people healthier.

“Every crisis has a silver lining,” said Sharen Carey, the executive director. “People have lost weight. They’re improving their cardiovascular system. They’re sleeping better.”

One patient who had diabetes, and declined medication, is all but cured, she said. “He was required to walk the trail five days a week. Since February he has lost 24lbs. His numbers went from diabetic to pre-diabetic. His blood pressure is normal. On paper he’s just about normal.”

Another patient with diabetes, and one with pre-diabetes, also showed marked improvement, said Carey. Many other patients reported simply feeling better and more energised.

“They’re getting outdoors and working. The ones who have lost weight have reported that they’re more energetic. Sleep, blood pressure, heart rate, they all benefit.”

The trail was a mile and a half – a three-mile round trip. That comprised about 4,000 steps which burned approximately 200 to 300 calories, said Carey, citing her Fitbit. “It doesn’t sound like much but it’s not just about burning calories, it’s getting your heart rate working.”

A new trail giving foot access to a cut-off part of Big Sur.


A new trail giving foot access to a cut-off part of Big Sur. Photograph: Rory Carroll for the Guardian

Residents interviewed on the trail agreed. John and Frances Hoeffel, retired lab technicians in their 70s, said they enjoyed the hike. They were returning from the library.

John and Frances Hoeffel returning home from a library visit.


John and Frances Hoeffel returning home from a library visit. Photograph: Rory Carroll

Others reported an additional benefit: commuting on foot via a narrow, winding trail rather than driving on the Pacific Coastal Highway has bolstered their sense of community.

“It’s been a leveller,” said Erin Gafill, whose family owns the Nepenthe restaurant. “We all have to walk that trail together. You get a sense of each other’s routines. We’re not as separated.” Long-term residents had newfound respect for how hard Latinos – who juggle multiple jobs – work, she said.

Erin Gafill at the Nepenthe restaurant.


Erin Gafill at the Nepenthe restaurant. Photograph: Rory Carroll

Her mother, Holly Gafill, agreed. “That trail is so intimate. You’re almost touching people if not hugging them because you haven’t seen them in ages. I look at the trail with so much gratitude.”

Few saw a bright side when torrential storms buried the highway in massive mudslides and washed away the Pfeiffer Canyon bridge, cutting off segments totalling 35 miles along Big Sur, a scenic coastal ribbon between San Francisco and Los Angeles which draws 3 million tourists a year.

The isolation has devastated hotels, restaurants and resorts, inflicting job losses and hardship.

Not all residents enjoy hiking the trail which emergency crews carved out of the hillsides in February.

“I find it pretty arduous, but then I’m overweight and I smoke cigarettes,” said Bill Crain, 56. “I paid a guy $ 50 to bring my cats back from the vet.”

Bill Crain hikes the trail about once a week.


Bill Crain hikes the trail about once a week. Photograph: Rory Carroll

Other neighbours grumbled too, he said, despite the benefit. “They may not like it but it’s good for them.”

Cubans experienced a similar phenomenon but on much more dramatic, painful scale in the 1990s when the economy collapsed, slashing food and gasoline consumption.

A new bridge is expected to open in September, restoring the tourist flow and letting residents once again drive to schools and amenities.

Yet the unexpected positive side-effects of isolation has made some almost wistful about the experience. “I’ll be sort of sorry to see the bridge go back up,” said Carey. “We’re all hiking that trail all the time but next year how many will still do it?”

Gafill, the restaurant owner, said the stillness and quiet harked back to the area’s bohemian 1950s era. “There will be a sense of loss when we go back (to normal) because we’ve gained so much – a return to a time when you had time.”

1.2 million people in England and Wales will have dementia by 2040 – study

More than 1.2 million people are expected to be living with dementia in England and Wales by 2040, up from almost 800,000 today, research suggests.

Researchers say the predicted rise in the prevalence of dementia is largely down to people living longer, but add that the figures also show that the risk of developing dementia for each age group is falling – a finding they say suggests that preventive strategies are having an impact.

“The growth in numbers of cases of dementia is not as large as we once anticipated,” said Sara Ahmadi-Abhari, an epidemiologist and co-author of the research from University College, London. “But, nonetheless, the growth in the number of people with dementia is substantial.”

The team note that improved forecasts for the numbers of people expected to be living with dementia in the future are important to make sure support is available. At present the costs of dementia to the UK economy are estimated to be £23bn a year.

The latest figures, published in the British Medical Journal, are based on data from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (Elas) – an ongoing project that began in 2002 and is designed to look at a range of factors affecting people aged 50 and over, including their health.

Among the assessments carried out, participants were asked to complete memory tasks, solve maths problems and were asked about their ability to carry out daily activities, with any diagnosis of dementia also recorded.

The international team of researchers examined data from 18,000 men and women collected between 2002 and 2013, to look at trends in the proportion of new cases of dementia and the prevalence of the condition and cardiovascular disease over time. In addition, data from the Office for National Statistics was combined with data from the Elas to help the team to explore trends in mortality from both cardiovascular disease and non-cardiovascular causes.

“Dementia and cardiovascular disease share risk factors,” said Ahmadi-Abhar. “To be able to get a better picture of the health gains [of public health interventions], we need to model them together.”.

The team then fed the data into a computer-based model to predict figures for those living with dementia in England and Wales in the years to come.

.

“There is very little doubt that we are going to see an increase in the actual number of people with dementia,” said Julie Williams, an associate director of the UK Dementia Research Institute at Cardiff University who was not involved in the study. But she adds there are signs of hope. “It is heartening that we see a reduction in the rate, which is likely to be due to healthy living,” she said.

Ramon Luengo-Fernandez of the Health Economics Research Centre at the University of Oxford who was not involved in the research, said that the study underscores the importance of central and local government tackling the social care crisis in older age.

“Although the pressures created by dementia to the NHS, social services and society in general – for example, impact on relatives who have to care for people with dementia in the community – might not be as bad as once feared, the study highlights that these pressures will still be considerable,” he said.

The research comes at the same time as a number of other investigations into dementia.

Among them, a small study published in the journal Neurology has found that among participants with an elevated risk of Alzheimer’s, those who reported poorer sleep quality had more biomarkers associated with the disease in their spinal fluid.

But, the authors note, it is not clear if the sleep problems are increasing the risk of developing the disease or vice versa.

Another study, published in the journal Nature, has unravelled the structure of filaments that are found tangled inside cells in the brain of those with Alzheimer’s, and are made of a protein known as tau.

By revealing the different structures of these tau filaments, researchers say they hope to be better able to understand how and why they tangle, which in turn could eventually lead to development of drugs to prevent such clumps developing.

John Hardy, professor of neuroscience at University College, London who was not involved in the research, welcomed the study. “This is a fantastic piece of work which will help us understand the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s better,” he said. “It really is a tour de force.”

What You Need to Know About the Lone Star Tick, Which Is Giving People Red Meat Allergies

You already know that ticks pose a threat your health; these bugs, which thrive in the summer, can transmit Lyme disease, Powassan disease, and even a rare condition called tick paralysis.

If those illnesses aren’t enough to worry about, experts are sounding the alarm about another tick-borne condition that appears to be on the rise. A bite from the lone star tick has been leaving victims with a potentially dangerous allergy to red meat and sometimes even dairy products.

RELATED: Bug Bites: How to Prevent and Treat

Never heard of the lone star tick? Once mostly confined to the southeastern United States, it’s been stretching its boundaries over the last couple of decades, increasing in numbers and showing up from Maine to central Texas and Oklahoma, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Along with that red meat allergy, this tick can also carry the bacteria that can cause monocytic ehrlichiosis (a rare infectious disease), Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and STARI, a rash that can be mistaken for Lyme disease, reports the University of Rhode Island’s TickEncounter Resource Center.

But it’s the risk of an allergy to bacon and burgers that has people most on edge right now. Here’s how it happens: just like other ticks, the lone star tick likes to feed on mammal blood, like deer and cow, explains Cosby Stone, MD, MPH, a clinical research fellow in allergy and immunology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. When a ticks bites one of these animals, the tick can pick up a sugar called alpha-gal.

Then, the tick bites a human. The bite itself as well as the alpha-gal that is transmitted to the human host triggers a person’s immune system to make antibodies. “Because you don’t make this sugar in your body, it’s recognized as something foreign and you can become allergic to it,” Dr. Stone says. The result: an alpha-gal allergy.

Unfortunately, alpha-gal sugar is in a lot of foods and dishes you may eat all the time, like red meat, dairy, and gelatin. Once you have this allergy, your barbecue days might be over. You’ll react when you eat a steak, and a small cohort of victims will even react when they drink a glass of milk. For some people, gelatin in medications causes those antibodies to kick in and cause distress. “This can create a lot of trouble for people,” adds Dr. Stone. 

RELATED: Beat 16 Summer Health Hazards

The allergy might take months to develop after the tick bite. Yet typically it starts to present itself soon after you eat red meat. The signs are often hard to ignore and potentially serious: hives, shortness of breath, diarrhea, swelling of the face and hands, and/or low blood pressure. “There are plenty of stories where patients eat a burger at 6 p.m. and then wake up with anaphylactic shock at midnight,” says Dr. Stone. If that happens, seek medical attention ASAP.

Though the lone start tick seems to have hit the headlines out of the blue, experts have been noticing a rise in allergic reactions over the last decade. Tick-borne illnesses in general appear to be increasing; the National Pest Association stated that 2017 might be the worst season yet for ticks, due in part to mild winter conditions that allowed ticks to thrive.

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As with all ticks, the advice remains the same when it comes to protecting yourself. Use a permethrin-based repellent on clothes, wear long pants when you’re out hiking or working in the yard (and tuck those socks in), and do a tick check on yourself, your kids, and dogs when you go back inside. If you spot one, remove it with tweezers ASAP and be alert for any kind of symptoms, from a rash to fever to fatigue or weakness.

What You Need to Know About the Lone Star Tick, Which Is Giving People Red Meat Allergies

You already know that ticks pose a threat your health; these bugs, which thrive in the summer, can transmit Lyme disease, Powassan disease, and even a rare condition called tick paralysis.

If those illnesses aren’t enough to worry about, experts are sounding the alarm about another tick-borne condition that appears to be on the rise. A bite from the lone star tick has been leaving victims with a potentially dangerous allergy to red meat and sometimes even dairy products.

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Never heard of the lone star tick? Once mostly confined to the southeastern United States, it’s been stretching its boundaries over the last couple of decades, increasing in numbers and showing up from Maine to central Texas and Oklahoma, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Along with that red meat allergy, this tick can also carry the bacteria that can cause monocytic ehrlichiosis (a rare infectious disease), Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and STARI, a rash that can be mistaken for Lyme disease, reports the University of Rhode Island’s TickEncounter Resource Center.

But it’s the risk of an allergy to bacon and burgers that has people most on edge right now. Here’s how it happens: just like other ticks, the lone star tick likes to feed on mammal blood, like deer and cow, explains Cosby Stone, MD, MPH, a clinical research fellow in allergy and immunology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. When a ticks bites one of these animals, the tick can pick up a sugar called alpha-gal.

Then, the tick bites a human. The bite itself as well as the alpha-gal that is transmitted to the human host triggers a person’s immune system to make antibodies. “Because you don’t make this sugar in your body, it’s recognized as something foreign and you can become allergic to it,” Dr. Stone says. The result: an alpha-gal allergy.

Unfortunately, alpha-gal sugar is in a lot of foods and dishes you may eat all the time, like red meat, dairy, and gelatin. Once you have this allergy, your barbecue days might be over. You’ll react when you eat a steak, and a small cohort of victims will even react when they drink a glass of milk. For some people, gelatin in medications causes those antibodies to kick in and cause distress. “This can create a lot of trouble for people,” adds Dr. Stone. 

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The allergy might take months to develop after the tick bite. Yet typically it starts to present itself soon after you eat red meat. The signs are often hard to ignore and potentially serious: hives, shortness of breath, diarrhea, swelling of the face and hands, and/or low blood pressure. “There are plenty of stories where patients eat a burger at 6 p.m. and then wake up with anaphylactic shock at midnight,” says Dr. Stone. If that happens, seek medical attention ASAP.

Though the lone start tick seems to have hit the headlines out of the blue, experts have been noticing a rise in allergic reactions over the last decade. Tick-borne illnesses in general appear to be increasing; the National Pest Association stated that 2017 might be the worst season yet for ticks, due in part to mild winter conditions that allowed ticks to thrive.

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As with all ticks, the advice remains the same when it comes to protecting yourself. Use a permethrin-based repellent on clothes, wear long pants when you’re out hiking or working in the yard (and tuck those socks in), and do a tick check on yourself, your kids, and dogs when you go back inside. If you spot one, remove it with tweezers ASAP and be alert for any kind of symptoms, from a rash to fever to fatigue or weakness.