Stories tagged arthritis

Sep
17
2008

Eat up!: Technically, these aren't the right kind of parasitic worms. But it couldn't hurt to have a few, right?
Eat up!: Technically, these aren't the right kind of parasitic worms. But it couldn't hurt to have a few, right?Courtesy Teseum
Finally, folks, we have yet another reason to get infected with parasitic worms!

Don’t get me wrong—there are already reasons that you should look into getting worms, plenty of reasons. The company, for one; you’re never alone when you’ve got worms, after all. And the excuse that you’re eating for two (or two hundred) is always useful at big dinners. And the day that “Hey, I have worms! Let’s kiss!” stops being an effective icebreaker at parties is the day I’m not interested in living any more.

And yet there will always be naysayers. Killjoys and health nuts, for whom no pro-worm argument seems to be adequate. Hey, worm-haters, guess who had worms. Your great grandparents, probably, and were they bad people?

In any case, the obstinate will soon have an even harder time ignoring the cold, hard face of reason.

It has been observed that in tropical regions where infection by a particular type of parasitic worm is common, auto-immune diseases—like rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and type-1 diabetes—are particularly uncommon. Scientsts, clever devils that they are, have figured out why this is.

Certains type of parasitic nematodes (nematodes are round worms) are capable of causing filariasis in their hosts. Among other things, filariasis causes elephantiasis. Elephantiasis for those of you blocking out memories, elephantiasis (often misheard as “elephantitis”) is characterized by severe “thickening of the skin and underlying tissues,” occurring most often in the legs and genitals. And it’s pretty gross.

It isn’t in the worm’s interest, as it were, to have this massive inflammatory response in its host, so it secretes a large molecule called “ES-62.” ES-62, according to researchers, seems to act like a “thermostat” for inflammation. With no known adverse health effects, ES-62 reduces the inflammatory immune response that causes elephantiasis, as well as rheumatoid arthritis, while leaving intact the immune system’s other mechanisms for fighting infections.

Similar research has been done on parasitic schistosomes (blood flukes). Populations with high infection rates of certain schistosomes have a greatly reduced incidence of allergies and asthma, and the thought is that the blood flukes are also able to regulate their host’s immune response so that it ignores some irritants (like the flukes) but still doesn’t allow the body to become too sick.

Wild, huh?

So get yourself some worms, y’all. Foxy boys and girls can tell when you’re sneezing and limping (not attractive), but they can’t see the worms and blood flukes teeming through your system. So you decide.

Aug
25
2007

Trouble afoot?: Flip-flops are a popular type of shoe these days, especially in the warmer weather. But can they be causing some long-term foot damage? Some podiatrists think so. (Flickr photo by bridgetd517)
Trouble afoot?: Flip-flops are a popular type of shoe these days, especially in the warmer weather. But can they be causing some long-term foot damage? Some podiatrists think so. (Flickr photo by bridgetd517)
Just in time for the end of summer, I saw this report on ABC’s Good Morning America the other day. The ever-popular flip-flop sandals are a growing concern among podiatrists and other doctors.

A New York podiatrist was quoted: “Flip-flops have single handedly caused more problems with people’s feet in the last couple of years than any other type of shoe.” He went on to say he sees five to ten cases of flip-flop related foot problems a week at his office.

Testimonials were also given by those who’ve had medical problems due to flip-flops. One woman told how she slipped on wet pavement and broke ankle. Another said that she stepped on spilled cottage cheese at a grocery store and snapped her foot after an embarrassing fall.

The big problem with flip-flops, the experts reported, is that they give absolutely no support to the bottom of a foot. Without that support, the foot is able to twist and turn any which way, leading to sprains, breaks and falls. Also, the thin, flat soles of flip-flops provide virtually no shock-absorbing qualities to feet and legs while walking. Sustained wearing of flip-flops can lead to nerve damage in the foot and ankle area.

One other warning from the foot doctor, don’t wear flip-flops while driving a car. Since they’re barely connected to your feet, it’s possible and easy for them to slip off and get lodged in the gas or brake pedals of a car.

One other item to keep in mind, the doctor pointed out: It’s a good practice to vary your footwear from day to day. The variety of soles and shapes will keep your feet healthier and more comfortable each day.

What do you think about flip-flops and their potential dangers? Share your thoughts here with other Science Buzz readers.