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Facial paralysis stigma takes emotional toll, especially when acquired later in life

People with facial paralysis are more likely to face depression and anxiety than the general population, especially if the paralysis occurs later in life rather than at birth, according to a recent study from Oregon State University.

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People with facial paralysis are more likely to face depression and anxiety than the general population, especially if the paralysis occurs later in life rather than at birth, according to a recent study from Oregon State University.

OSU College of Liberal Arts researcher Kathleen Bogart surveyed people around the world with different forms of facial paralysis, both congenital and acquired, to understand socioemotional issues affecting them. She looked at emotional clarity – the ability to identify and understand one’s own emotions – as well as stigma, attachment and psychological distress.

About 225,000 people per year develop facial paralysis in the U.S., whether from injury or illness like Bell’s palsy, or from congenital issues like Moebius syndrome or birth trauma. Bogart’s study focused on peripheral facial paralysis, which affects only the face and is caused by facial nerve problems, rather than paralysis from other cognitive conditions that affect multiple parts of the body.

The study tested two competing ideas: The “acquired advantage” hypothesis theorized that people who acquire paralysis later in life would fare better on emotional clarity, as they completed their early developmental stages with a full range of motion and expression. The “congenital advantage” hypothesis countered that people born with paralysis were able to adapt from a young age and thus developed their own alternative ways of expressing themselves, such as body language and tone of voice.

Contrary to popular opinion, it’s people who acquire paralysis later in life that struggle the most, study results showed.

“It seemed that people assumed that people who went through their initial development not having facial paralysis would be doing better; like ‘having a so-called normal early childhood would give you the emotional fundamentals,'” Bogart said. “But these findings are actually really neat, because lots of people have disabilities, and this suggests the ones who have them from birth actually seem to have an advantage. They’re learning how to function in the world for the first time, alongside that disability, at a time of great cognitive flexibility. People with congenital disabilities have a lot to teach us about adaptation.”

When people acquire paralysis later in life, she said, there’s a real sense of loss or a change in identity that those born with paralysis don’t experience.

Facial paralysis can affect people in a variety of ways, including difficulty with facial expressions, vision, speech, eating and drinking. It can also cause physical discomfort and pain.

And because people with facial paralysis have visibly different faces, regardless of when they acquired the paralysis, they also deal with a lot of stigma and discrimination, Bogart said.

The shock of suddenly experiencing stigma, or experiencing stigma in that way, also contributes to the challenges faced by people with acquired paralysis, she said.

People with acquired paralysis reported higher rates of depression and anxiety, as well as more problems with emotional clarity and attachment, likely stemming from the newfound difficulty in conveying emotions to other people.

But both groups still experienced greater stigma than the norm, even though the norms for this question were calculated from people with other stigmatized neurological conditions – just without visible facial paralysis.

Published in the journal Health Psychology, this was the largest psychological study of people with peripheral facial paralysis to date. After contacting participants through facial paralysis organizations and social media, Bogart surveyed 112 adults with congenital paralysis and 434 people with acquired paralysis, which is much more common. Participants were from 37 countries, with the majority in the U.S., and the vast majority were white women. The average age was about 45 years old.

To address these issues and alleviate psychological distress, Bogart says, there need to be greater protections against discrimination and bullying toward people with visibly different faces. People with facial paralysis often report being turned down for public-facing jobs or leadership roles, as well as being perceived as unfriendly or uninterested because of their facial appearance. Though the Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits this type of discrimination, it is not well enforced, Bogart said.

“We found that stigma was the main predictor of anxiety and depression,” she said. “This is a socially created problem that can be acted upon.”

There are currently no specialized therapies to support people with facial paralysis experiencing psychological distress. Bogart calls for the development of these therapies, which could include support groups and communication skills training.

Three organizations assisted Bogart in finding survey participants: the Moebius Syndrome Foundation, the Facial Paralysis & Bell’s Palsy Foundation, and Facial Palsy UK.

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Pru Life UK agents, customers, executives celebrate Year of the Wood Dragon

The insurer maintains its top position in New Business Annual Premium Equivalent & total Premium Income from Variable Life Insurance products according to the Insurance Commission’s Life Insurance Sector Quarterly Statistics for Q3 2023.

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With a strengthened commitment to providing better financial protection for every Filipino, Pru Life UK celebrates the start of the Year of the Wood Dragon. Over 200 Pru Life UK leaders, agents, clients, and employees joined and wished everyone PRU Love during the festivities held at the heart of its Escolta branch in Binondo Manila.

The insurer maintains its top position in New Business Annual Premium Equivalent & total Premium Income from Variable Life Insurance products according to the Insurance Commission’s Life Insurance Sector Quarterly Statistics for Q3 2023.

Pru Life UK’s products are made accessible through its over 42,000 digitally-empowered agency workforce and like-minded partners.

The Company recently launched PRULove for Life – an affordable, limited-pay, whole-life participating plan for as low as Php 87 per day* with lifetime coverage up to age 100 and flexible payment terms of 5, 10, 15, or 20 years to pay. To know more about PRULove for Life, talk to your Pru Life UK agent today or visit Pru Life UK’s website.

Pru Life UK is also committed to driving up financial awareness, literacy, and inclusion in the country by leading industry discussions and programs for the community. Its PRUBabies campaign seeks to protect 175,000 newborns with free insurance coverage against select infectious diseases such as Dengue, Typhoid, Measles, and Malaria.

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Eating too much protein is bad for your arteries, and this amino acid is to blame

Consuming over 22% of dietary calories from protein can lead to increased activation of immune cells that play a role in atherosclerotic plaque formation, driving the disease risk.

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University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine researchers discovered a molecular mechanism by which excessive dietary protein could increase atherosclerosis risk. The findings were published in Nature Metabolism.

The study, which combined small human trials with experiments in mice and cells in a Petri dish, showed that consuming over 22% of dietary calories from protein can lead to increased activation of immune cells that play a role in atherosclerotic plaque formation, driving the disease risk. Furthermore, the scientists showed that one amino acid – leucine – seems to have a disproportionate role in driving the pathological pathways linked to atherosclerosis, or stiff, hardened arteries.

“Our study shows that dialing up your protein intake in pursuit of better metabolic health is not a panacea. You could be doing real damage to your arteries,” said senior and co-corresponding author Babak Razani, M.D., Ph.D., professor of cardiology at Pitt. “Our hope is that this research starts a conversation about ways of modifying diets in a precise manner that can influence body function at a molecular level and dampen disease risks.”

According to a survey of an average American diet over the last decade, Americans generally consume a lot of protein, mostly from animal sources. Further, nearly a quarter of the population receives over 22% of all daily calories from protein alone.

That trend is likely driven by the popular idea that dietary protein is essential to healthy living, says Razani. But his and other groups have shown that overreliance on protein may not be such a good thing for long-term health.

Following their 2020 research, in which Razani’s laboratory first showed that excess dietary protein increases atherosclerosis risk in mice, his next study in collaboration with Bettina Mittendorfer, Ph.D., a metabolism expert at the University of Missouri, Columbia, delved deeper into the potential mechanism and its relevance to the human body.

To arrive at the answer, Razani’s laboratory, led by first-authors Xiangyu Zhang, Ph.D., and Divya Kapoor, M.D., teamed up with Mittendorfer’s group to combine their expertise in cellular biology and metabolism and perform a series of experiments across various models – from cells to mice to humans.

“We have shown in our mechanistic studies that amino acids, which are really the building blocks of the protein, can trigger disease through specific signaling mechanisms and then also alter the metabolism of these cells,” Mittendorfer said. “For instance, small immune cells in the vasculature called macrophages can trigger the development of atherosclerosis.”

Based on initial experiments in healthy human subjects to determine the timeline of immune cell activation following ingestion of protein-enriched meals, the researchers simulated similar conditions in mice and in human macrophages, immune cells that are shown to be particularly sensitive to amino acids derived from protein.

Their work showed that consuming more than 22% of daily dietary calories through protein can negatively affect macrophages that are responsible for clearing out cellular debris, leading to the accumulation of a “graveyard” of those cells inside the vessel walls and worsening of atherosclerotic plaques overtime. Interestingly, the analysis of circulating amino acids showed that leucine – an amino acid enriched in animal-derived foods like beef, eggs and milk – is primarily responsible for abnormal macrophage activation and atherosclerosis risk, suggesting a potential avenue for further research on personalized diet modification, or “precision nutrition.”

Razani is careful to note that many questions remain to be answered, mainly: What happens when a person consumes between 15% of daily calories from protein as recommended by the USDA and 22% of daily calories from protein, and if there is a ‘sweet spot’ for maximizing the benefits of protein – such as muscle gain – while avoiding kick-starting a molecular cascade of damaging events leading to cardiovascular disease.

The findings are particularly relevant in hospital settings, where nutritionists often recommend protein-rich foods for the sickest patients to preserve muscle mass and strength.

“Perhaps blindly increasing protein load is wrong,” Razani said. “Instead, it’s important to look at the diet as a whole and suggest balanced meals that won’t inadvertently exacerbate cardiovascular conditions, especially in people at risk of heart disease and vessel disorders.”

Razani also notes that these findings suggest differences in leucine levels between diets enriched in plant and animal protein might explain the differences in their effect on cardiovascular and metabolic health. “The potential for this type of mechanistic research to inform future dietary guidelines is quite exciting,” he said.

Additional authors of the study are Yu-Sheng Yeh, Ph.D., also from Pitt; Alan Fappi, Ph.D. and Vasavi Shabrish, Ph.D., both of the University of Missouri, Columbia; Se-Jin Jeong, Ph.D., Jeremiah Stitham, M.D., Ph.D., Ismail Sergin, Ph.D., Eman Yousif, M.D., Astrid Rodriguez-Velez, Ph.D., Arick Park, M.D., Ph.D., Joel Schilling, M.D., Ph.D., Marco Sardiello, Ph.D., Abhinav Diwan, M.D., Nathan Stitziel, M.D., Ph.D., Ali Javaheri, M.D., Ph.D., Irfan Lodhi, Ph.D., and Jaehyung Cho, Ph.D., all of Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis; Arif Yurdagul Jr, Ph.D., and Oren Rom, Ph.D., both of the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center; and Slava Epelman, M.D., Ph.D., of the University of Toronto.

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IRONKIDS Cebu in Lapu-Lapu partners with RLC Residences

This April will be the first event of the partnership as the brand extends their support for the budding young athletes. The aquathlon will see participants from ages 6 to 15 years old complete the race happening at The Reef Island Resort in Mactan.

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The IRONMAN Group Philippines and RLC Residences have announced in 2023 a new partnership—as the residential brand of Robinsons Land Corporation, RLC Residences becomes the title sponsor for IRONKIDS Lapu-Lapu and IRONKIDS Davao for 2024.

This April will be the first event of the partnership as the brand extends their support for the budding young athletes.  The aquathlon will see participants from ages 6 to 15 years old complete the race happening at The Reef Island Resort in Mactan.

RLC Residences Head of Brand Management Mr. Dan Carlo Torres shares his enthusiasm towards the event. “We are very excited to see this partnership unfold. We’ve been very supportive of IRONMAN, especially IRONKIDS because we also believe in the importance of promoting an active and purposeful lifestyle at such a young age and we hope to continuously be part of IRONMAN as we create more vibrant opportunities for our future triathletes,” he added.

“As we aspire to live our best lives, we work to inspire the wider community,” said Ms Princess Galura, Regional Director of the IRONMAN Group Philippines.  “For 10 years, the IRONKIDS has been a part of the Cebuano youth’s stepping stone to either a future in sports, representing the Philippines in international events, as well as planting the seeds of a healthy, sporty lifestyle.  Our partnership with RLC Residences allows us to do so and we are excited to hold the festivities for our youth once again in Lapu-Lapu this April,” she added.

The IRONKIDS event in Lapu-Lapu will feature age group categories for the 6 to 8 years old, 9 to 10 years old, 11 to 12 years old and 13 to 15 years old.  Relay categories are also available for mixed team relay for 6-10 year-olds and 11-15 year-olds. 

Swim and run courses, the transition area and finish line will be at The Reef Island Resort, which is conveniently located in a gated community.  Families who are checked in during race weekend can enjoy amenities of the resort –  including the beach, lap pool and game room.  The resort’s restaurant is operated by Cebu-based top tier chain, Abaca.

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