Deworming treatments and microbial infections: good for you, not so good for everyone else

On the long list of things that give me the heebie jeebies, parasitic worms are right up there with snake orgies (a uniquely Canadian experience) and house centipedes. Many, but not all, of these worms are intestinal parasites. They latch onto the wall of the intestine and slowly siphon away nutrients, leaving their unassuming hosts weak and malnourished. Left to their own devices, parasitic worms, or helminths, can survive for years inside a host. This is quite astonishing given that our bodies employ a complex immune system to hunt down and destroy invading pathogens. Continue reading

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More sex, more UTIs: how timing affects your risk of bladder infection

“Pee after sex” is perhaps one of the most memorable pieces of advice I’ve picked up in conversations with female friends over the years. The theory is that peeing right after sex will help to flush out any bacteria that may have entered your body during sex and prevent them from infecting your urinary tract.

Electron microscopy of UPEC binding to the surface of the bladder (Source)
Electron microscopy of UPEC binding to the surface of the bladder (Source)

Urinary tract infections, or UTIs, commonly refers to infection of the urethra or bladder and affects mostly women. It’s estimated that roughly half of all women will experience a UTI at least once in their lifetime. Of these women, 25-40% suffer from repeated UTIs and must take antibiotics continuously to prevent a recurrence. The most common cause of UTIs is uropathogenic E. coli, or UPEC. UPEC can enter the body through the urethra and then move into the bladder. Left untreated, the bacteria can spread from the bladder to the kidneys and cause serious health complications. Continue reading

Killer fat cells help protect against bacterial infections

Fat is bad. This is what doctors and nutritionists have preached for years, making fat public enemy number one in the battle against obesity. We now know that not all fat is bad. Unsaturated fats, like those found in fish and nuts, have many potential health benefits while saturated and trans fats should be avoided. For the first time, researchers have shown how fat cells in our skin can directly help protect against a bacterial infection.  Continue reading