Cannabis use during pregnancy delays fetal growth? + Cancer spread & microgravity

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Daily cannabis use during pregnancy associated with delayed fetal growth
https://www.news-medical.net/news/201912...rowth.aspx

RELEASE: Daily marijuana use during pregnancy may lead to an increased risk of low birth weight, low resistance to infection, decreased oxygen levels and other negative fetal health outcomes, according to a new study from a team of UNLV Medicine doctors. In the latest issue of the Journal of Maternal-Fetal and Neonatal Medicine, physicians reviewed sonogram data from nearly 450 pregnant women who self-reported daily marijuana use. They found that daily cannabis use is associated with delayed fetal growth, which can put a baby at risk of certain health problems during pregnancy, delivery, and even after birth.

Those problems include low birth weight, hypoglycemia, low Apgar scores, among others, and in the most severe cases, delayed growth can lead to stillbirth. Physicians also found an increase in placental vascular resistance in both the second and third trimesters, which can "disrupt the necessary flow of oxygen rich blood through the placenta," and can lead to delayed growth.

"Recent data from JAMA (The Journal of the American Medical Association) indicates that marijuana use in pregnancy has doubled over the last 15 years and what's more alarming is that 70% of women believe there is minimal or no harm from using marijuana in pregnancy. Our findings contribute to the growing body of evidence that fetal marijuana exposure may not be as safe as people think." --Dr. Bobby Brar, UNLV School of Medicine Resident Physician and lead author of the study

The physicians noted that the exposure to some chemical compounds that can be found in both tobacco and marijuana smoke may explain the growth abnormalities they observed. The compounds, known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, are present in both tobacco and marijuana smoke, but some studies have shown a higher concentration of these substances in secondhand marijuana smoke when compared to tobacco smoke, the physicians wrote. It's likely that the exposure to the smoke, and not necessarily nicotine, which is found in tobacco, or THC, which is found in marijuana, is what leads to delayed fetal growth, the authors wrote.

While additional studies are needed to further understand the negative impacts of daily marijuana usage on fetal growth, the team of doctors said that cannabis use should be discouraged during pregnancy. The physicians embarked upon the research as recent legalization of marijuana across the country has increased overall use. Current reports estimate that about 16% of pregnant women engage in daily use. Additionally, the researchers argue that patients should be screened throughout pregnancy for marijuana use and counseled appropriately on its potential effects, as well as strategies for cessation.



Cancer seems to have trouble spreading in microgravity
https://www.universetoday.com/144207/can...gravity-1/

EXCERPT: There are a number of health risks that come with going to space. [...] Interestingly enough, there are also a number of potential medical benefits to microgravity. Since 2014, Dr. Joshua Choi, a senior lecturer in biomedical engineering at the University of Technology Sydney, has been investigating how microgravity affects medicine and cells in the human body. Early next year, he and his research team will be traveling to the ISS to test a new method for treating cancer that relies on microgravity.

[...] Simply put, cancer is a disease where cells begin dividing uncontrollably and spread to certain parts of the body and take them over. Cancer cells do this by coming together to form a solid tumor in the body, which then grows until the cells are signaled to invade healthy tissues – such as the heart, lungs, brain, liver, pancreas, etc.

One of the biggest stumbling blocks with cancer research is that no one knows exactly when that point is reached. However, the process through which cancer grows and spreads would seem to indicate that there is a means through which the cells are able to sense each other and gravitate together to form a tumor.

However, biomedical researchers do understand that the only way cancer cells could sense each other is through mechanical forces, and that those forces evolved to work in an environment where there’s gravity. This motivated Chou to think of ways in which the lack of gravity might impede cancer cells’ ability to divide and spread.

[...] Already, Chou and his team have tested the effects of microgravity on cancer cells in their laboratory. ... As Chou indicated, the results were rather encouraging. “Our work has found that when placed in a microgravity environment, 80 to 90 percent of the cells in the four different cancer types we tested – ovarian, breast, nose and lung – were disabled,” he said. “By disabled, I mean they either die or float off because they can no longer hold on. Those four cancer types are some of the hardest cancers to kill.”

Even more impressive is the fact that these results were obtained by simply altering the gravitational forces – i.e. without the help of drugs. When subjected to microgravity-conditions, the cancer cells were unable to sense each other and therefore had a very hard time coming together. The next step, which will be happening early next year, will involve the team sending their experiment to the ISS aboard a specially-designed space module... (MORE - details)
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