Author Archives: duhraj

Marfan Syndrome: tissue disorder in tall people

Are you tall, thin, have flexible joints, flat fleet and crowded teeth? You may be a victim of Marfan syndrome. Marfan Syndrome is a genetic tissue disorder that affects the connective tissues of the body, specifically long bones. People with this disorder are born with it but the features are usually present later on. This disorder affects 1 in 5000 people worldwide although not many people are familiar with it, such as myself. An article I came across on this subject caught my attention because I have physical features such as a tall, thin build with flat feet, similar to the symptoms. There is however, many tall people with the physical features of the disorder but are not diagnosed with it, which is most likely my case.

Source: Flickr Commons Author: Michael Dorausch

The tissue disorder is caused by a mutation or defect in the gene that produces fibrillin-1, the protein involved in Marfan syndrome. This defect results in an increase in production of a protein known as transforming growth factor beta (TGF), which initiates defects in the connective tissue of the body. This disorder can affect many areas of the body since connective tissues are found throughout the whole body. Commons areas infected are bones, joints, the heart, blood vessels and the eyes. Because of this, it can be life threatening. Most deaths are cardiovascular related.

This videos goes over some physical signals of Marfan Syndrome:

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An eight grader from Urbana, Illinois was diagnosed with the disorder at six-years-old. At the age of 13, she was just over 5 feet and 10 inches. Luckily for her, she began treatment at a young age to prevent any serious complications. Treatment of this syndrome involves daily intake of beta-blocker medication and an echocardiogram once year. Unfortunately, her father was diagnosed in his late 20’s and after years of strenuous activities such as playing basketball and football, his heart had experienced too much damage to be treated. When undiagnosed and untreated, there is up to 250 times the risk of a tear or rupture of the aorta. The effects of this syndrome are therefore serious and should be better communicated to people in order to be aware of the condition.

So if you know anyone that is young and has any of these features, it might be worthwhile to mention the tissue disorder as it could possibly prevent further damage and save a live.

Jessy Duhra

Hair Dye can give you Cancer?

A recent study says that hair dyes contain chemicals that are linked to cancer. WHAT! Is this true?

Source: Flickr Commons

For years, hair dyeing has become increasingly popular among both males and females. Whether it is to cover up age defying gray hairs or for personal beauty related reasons, the cosmetic industry has boomed because of it. However, there are always potential risks to using any sorts of chemically produced products.

The link to cancer comes from the fact that many permanent hair dyes contain secondary amines that can penetrate the skin and stay on hairs for a long time after application of the dye.  Poisonous chemicals such as N-nitrosamines can be produced when chemicals in permanent hair dyes react with exhaust fumes in the air and tobacco smoke. Although these types of permanent hair dyes are banned from cosmetics, simple chemical reactions can generate these dangerous chemicals posing a potential hazard for hair-dyeing consumers.

There has been a concern regarding whether the type of hair color results in a greater risk of developing cancer. Some studies have suggested that darker-colored hair dyes link to a higher risk in getting cancer, specifically bladder cancer. Researcher Dr. Gago-Dominguez and her co-workers analyzed several bladder cancer cases in which hair dye was used among the patients. They compared these patients to adults that had not used permanent hair dye and found that women who used permanent hair dye once a month are twice as likely to develop bladder cancer.

This video provides a summary of hair dye and bladder cancer:

Source: VideojugHealthWellbeing  daily motion

Fortunately, there is not enough evidence to support this and should not affect a persons decision to dye their hair. There is however other side affects of using permanent hair dye such as allergic reactions. Paraphenylenediamine (PPD) is a major chemical component in permanent hair dyes. It is a colorless substance that becomes colored when it is oxidized.  The intermediate stage before it is fully oxidized can cause allergic reactions such as swelling and redness so it is important to properly read labels before using an hair dye product, as is before using any chemical substance.

So, if you plan on dyeing your hair, be sure to educate yourself on the chemicals present in the dye to prevent any allergic reactions. Do not however, worry about there being a causal effect between hair dye and cancer.

– Jessy Duhra

Macrae, F. 2013. Hair dyes used by millions of women are linked to chemicals that can cause cancer [online]. Available from

Hair dye could cause bladder cancer- and brunettes are at a greater risk [online]. Avaible from

Allergy to parphenylenedia. 2013. [online]. Available from

Is Yoga the Solution for Insomnia?


Has University life turned you into an insomniac? Many University and college students claim to suffer from insomnia, also known as a sleeping disorder. I’ve come across friends tweeting late at night with hash tags “insomniac” or “sleep-deprived” every so often. With the juggle of schoolwork, exercise, work and a social life, it is not surprising that a number of students are having difficulty sleeping. I personally feel that my mind is constantly working and thinking about things I need to do, especially at night when its time for bed.

Insomnia. Image: sese kim (Flickr Creative Commons)

Is there a cure for insomnia? Many over-the-counter or prescription pharmaceutical drugs such as sleeping pills are available and can do the job for you, but is it the right solution? There are always side effects when taking any type of medication and as a student; you don’t want to be relying on drugs in order to get a decent night sleep.

Sat Bir S. Khalsa, a researcher at Brigham and Women’s Hospital at Harvard Medical School, performed a study on subjects with insomnia and found that after eight weeks of breathing, meditation and asana exercises, the participants showed improvement in their sleep time and quality of sleep.  This research also showed that by practicing yoga for 30-40 minutes, people fell asleep 30% faster and their night-time waking was reduced by 35%.

Yoga can be portrayed as a complicated practice, with all its different poses and techniques. However, it can be as simple as just breathing. An example of a breathing exercise is alternate nostril breathing. We tend to breathe mainly out of our right nostril when we are stressed out.  The right nostril connects to the left-brain which activates our sympathetic nervous system, responsible for our fight or flight response. The sympathetic nervous system and stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol increase blood pressure and heart rate during stressful situations. In contrast, the parasympathetic system slows the heart rate and lowers blood pressure allowing one to recover from an overwhelming situation. Yoga poses can increase blood circulation and slow breathing can increase the oxygen level in the body. Both of these practices can increase the activation of the parasympathetic nervous system allowing for mental relaxation. This stimulatory effect of yoga on the autonomic nervous system, can help your sleeping pattern.

The video below gives a brief recap of how yoga can help you get a better nights sleep and introduces some basic yoga poses.

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So next time you’re laying in bed having difficulty sleeping, try out a yoga pose or breathing exercise. It might just help you sleep like a baby!

– Jessy Duhra