Tuesday February 25, 2020

Researchers Identify Key Networks In Brain That Play Role In Suicide

Brain networks that play key role in suicide risk identified

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Brain network
Scientists have identified the brain networks that play a role in suicide. Lifetime Stock

Researchers have identified key networks within the brain which they say interact to increase the risk that an individual will think about – or attempt – suicide.

Combining the results from all of the brain imaging studies available, the researchers looked for evidence of structural, functional and molecular alterations in the brain that could increase the risk of suicide.

They identified two brain networks – and the connections between them – that appear to play an important role.

The first of these networks involves areas towards the front of the brain known as the medial and lateral ventral prefrontal cortex and their connections to other brain regions involved in emotion.

Alterations in this network may lead to excessive negative thoughts and difficulties regulating emotions, stimulating thoughts of suicide, according to the study published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.

The second network involves regions known as the dorsal prefrontal cortex and inferior frontal gyrus system.

Brain studies
The researchers looked for evidence of structural, functional and molecular alterations in the brain that could increase the risk of suicide. Lifetime Stock

Alterations in this network may influence a suicide attempt, in part, due to its role in decision making, generating alternative solutions to problems and controlling behaviour, said the study.

The researchers suggest that if both networks are altered in terms of their structure, function or biochemistry, this might lead to situations where an individual thinks negatively about the future and is unable to control their thoughts, which might lead to situations where an individual is at higher risk of suicide.

“There are very vulnerable groups who are clearly not being served by research for a number of reasons, including the need to prioritise treatment, and reduce stigma,” said Anne-Laura van Harmelen, co-first author from the University of Cambridge.

“We urgently need to study these groups and find ways to help and support them,” van Harmelen said.

For the study, the international team of researchers carried out a review of two decades’ worth of scientific literature relating to brain imaging studies of suicidal thoughts and behaviour.

In total, they looked at 131 studies, which covered more than 12,000 individuals, looking at alterations in brain structure and function that might increase an individual’s suicide risk.

Brain suicide
Alterations in the brain network may influence a suicide attempt. Lifetime Stock

The researchers said that their review of existing literature revealed how little research has been done into one of the world’s major killers, particularly among the most vulnerable groups.

The facts in relation to suicide are stark: 800,000 people commit suicide every year, the equivalent of one every 40 seconds.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death globally among 15-29 year olds.

More adolescents commit suicide than dying from cancer, heart disease, AIDS, birth defects, stroke, pneumonia, influenza and chronic lung disease combined.

As many as one in three adolescents think about ending their lives and one in three of these will attempt suicide.

“Imagine having a disease that we knew killed almost a million people a year, a quarter of them before the age of thirty, and yet we knew nothing about why some individuals are more vulnerable to this disease,” van Harmelen said.

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“This is where we are with suicide. We know very little about what’s happening in the brain, why there are sex differences, and what makes young people especially vulnerable to suicide.” (IANS)

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Here’s Why Surgery Can be an Effective Way To Overcome Obesity at an Early Age

According to the researchers, for many diseases, early treatment is advantageous, but individuals with early-onset obesity have often had their disorder for a long time before bariatric surgery is considered

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Obesity
According to the researchers, for many diseases, early treatment is advantageous, but individuals with early-onset obesity have often had their disorder for a long time before bariatric surgery is considered. Pixabay

 Researchers have found that surgical treatment of obesity is as effective for individuals who developed the disorder early, by the age of 20, as for those who have developed obesity later in life.

The results, published in the journal Diabetes Care, are based on data from the Swedish Obese Subjects (SOS) study.

For the fndings, the researchers covered a total of 4,026 adult individuals who had developed obesity. Half of them had undergone bariatric surgery and the other half were a control group.

“We were somewhat surprised at the results. Since the group that had already developed obesity by the age of 20 had been exposed to obesity and its risks for longer periods, we’d expected that bariatric surgical treatment in these participants would be less effective in terms of weight loss and obesity-related sequelae than in the other group. But it wasn’t like that,” said study researcher Johanna Andersson Assarsson from University of Gothenburg in Sweden.

Each of the groups was divided into three subgroups, based on the participants’ body mass index (BMI) at age 20: those of normal weight, those who were overweight, and those with obesity.

The researchers then investigated whether there was any difference in the effects of bariatric treatment for obesity among those who had developed the disorder before age 20, compared with those who developed it later in life.

“On the contrary, the group with obesity at age 20 lost a little bit more weight after the operation, and there was no difference in effects on diabetes or its complications, cardiovascular disease or cancer, compared with individuals who developed obesity later in life,” Assarsson said.

Slimming, The Weight Of The, Health, Lifestyle
Researchers have found that surgical treatment of obesity is as effective for individuals who developed the disorder early, by the age of 20, as for those who have developed obesity later in life. Pixabay

According to the researchers, for many diseases, early treatment is advantageous, but individuals with early-onset obesity have often had their disorder for a long time before bariatric surgery is considered.

It has sometimes been speculated that bariatric surgical treatment would be less effective in these individuals because of their longer exposure to the adverse health effects of obesity.

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“Here, we show that’s not the case. And we think it’s important that this information reaches people considering bariatric surgery for obesity and also health professionals who treat patients with obesity,” Assarsson said. (IANS)