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Disrupted sleep, plus nightmares could be linked to autoimmune diseases, experts say

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Disrupted sleep, plus nightmares could be linked to autoimmune diseases, experts say

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Those who experience vivid nightmares and odd hallucinations might have an underlying autoimmune disease, a new study suggests.

An international research team led by scientists at the University of Cambridge and King’s College London explored the potential link between nightmares and hallucinations and systemic autoimmune rheumatic diseases. 

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The study, published in March in the journal eClinicalMedicine, included 676 people with lupus and 400 people from the medical field, as well as interviews with 69 people living with systemic autoimmune rheumatic diseases, SWNS reported. 

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Those with autoimmune diseases were asked about the timing of their neurological and mental health symptoms, such as disrupted sleep, hallucinations, depression and loss of balance. 

Of the 29 symptoms listed, the participants were asked to rank such symptoms in the order in which they occurred relative to their disease flare-ups.

The study looked at not only the issues surrounding sleep, but also when the issues for participants began. (iStock)

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The study found that three in five people experienced “vivid” and “distressing” nightmares that involved being trapped, attacked or falling — resulting in disrupted sleep.

One-third of those immune-compromised participants said they noticed the trend over a year before their lupus onset. 

LUPUS EXPERT DEBUNKS 7 COMMON MYTHS ABOUT THE AUTOIMMUNE DISEASE: ‘NOT A DEATH SENTENCE’

Lupus is defined as “a disease that occurs when your body’s immune system attacks your own tissues and organs,” according to the Mayo Clinic. 

One in four participants stated that they noticed hallucinations — although 85% said they didn’t experience the symptoms until the disease onset or later. 

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Stuggling to sleep

The study linked patients with an autoimmune disease, such as lupus, to disrupted sleep — including nightmares.  (iStock)

Three in five people with lupus and one in three with other rheumatology-related conditions said they noticed an uptick in sleep disruptions just before their hallucinations would begin, according to SWNS. 

The lead author of the study, Dr. Melanie Sloan of the University of Cambridge, noted in the study that in many cases, patients and doctors will not discuss mental health or neurological symptoms in relation to these diseases.

Three in five people with lupus noticed an uptick in sleep disruptions just before their hallucinations began.

“It’s important that clinicians talk to their patients about these types of symptoms and spend time writing down each patient’s individual progression of symptoms,” she said. 

‘SLEEP DISORDER DROVE MY SON TO SUICIDE,’ NEW YORK MOTHER SAYS: ‘BROKE MY HEART’

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Misdiagnosis was also mentioned in the study, as some participants said lupus and other autoimmune diseases were overlooked at first, SWNS reported. 

For example, a participant from Scotland was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder at age 18 before being diagnosed with lupus at 19.

Woman trying to sleep

The study found that three in five people experienced disrupted sleep with “vivid” and “distressing” nightmares that involved being trapped, attacked or falling.  (iStock)

“It was all very close together,” the participant said — noting that it was just a six-month period between “when my borderline personality disorder got under control and my lupus got under control,” SWNS said. 

HAVING TROUBLE SLEEPING? IT COULD BE FOR THIS SURPRISING REASON, EXPERTS SAY

Dr. Raj Dasgupta, a California-based chief medical adviser for Sleepopolis, was not involved in the study but shared reaction to the findings with Fox News Digital. 

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Dasgupta, who is quadruple-board certified in pulmonary, sleep, internal and critical care medicine, said the study supports the perspective that a “high prevalence of neuropsychiatric symptoms, such as headaches, mood and fatigue” are commonly linked to patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). 

Dr. Raj Dasgupta profile

Dr. Raj Dasgupta said that sleep issues among patients with SLE need to be discussed in order for people to achieve a better quality of life.  (Sleepoplis)

SLE is a “chronic disease that can affect any organ, including the nervous system,” Dasgupta noted.

“This study also supports the fact that patients with SLE are subject to complications of its treatment, including steroid-related psychosis,” he added.

Misdiagnosis was also mentioned in the study. 

Sleep issues are common in people with SLE, said Dasgupta, with over half of patients experiencing restlessness, poor sleep quality and difficulty falling asleep. 

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“These issues can be caused by pain, medication effects and the disease’s impact on the brain,” he said. 

Fox News Digital reached out to the eClinicalMedicine journal for further information. 

Sleepoplis consists of a team of writers, product reviewers and sleep experts who provide reviews and sleep health content, per the company’s website. 

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Experimental Alzheimer’s drug gets FDA advisory panel's thumbs-up: ‘Progress is happening’

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Experimental Alzheimer’s drug gets FDA advisory panel's thumbs-up: ‘Progress is happening’

An experimental Alzheimer’s drug, donanemab, was endorsed by a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory panel on Monday.

Donanemab is designed to treat symptoms of early Alzheimer’s disease, including mild cognitive impairment and mild Alzheimer’s dementia.

At the FDA’s Peripheral and Central Nervous System Advisory Committee hearing, which was held in Maryland on Monday, the advisers unanimously agreed that the drug’s benefits outweigh any potential risks.

CAN WE REVERSE ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE? EXPERTS SUGGEST ‘NEW PARADIGM’ FOR COMBATING DEMENTIA

While this isn’t a guarantee the FDA will approve the drug, the agency does typically follow the panel’s recommendations, per reports.

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“The FDA held the advisory committee meeting to hear the viewpoints and assessments of the experts on both the benefits and the risks of donanemab,” the agency told Fox News Digital in an emailed statement. 

“As with all applications the FDA receives, we will thoroughly review and consider the input from the committee.”

An experimental Alzheimer’s drug, donanemab, was endorsed by a U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisory panel on Monday. (iStock)

Officials at Eli Lilly, the Indiana pharmaceutical company that makes donanemab, were also in attendance, fielding questions from the committee about potential side effects.

At the Monday hearing, Eli Lilly officials presented clinical trial results that showed the drug slowed cognitive and functional decline for people with mild cognitive impairment due to early stages of Alzheimer’s.

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The study was also published by the Journal of the American Medical Association.

ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE FOUND TO BE TRANSMITTED THROUGH MEDICAL PROCEDURES DECADES AGO, STUDY FINDS

In phase 3 trials published in May 2023, donanemab was shown to “significantly slow cognitive and functional decline in people with early symptomatic Alzheimer’s disease,” according to a press release on Eli Lilly’s website.

If donanemab is approved, it would become only the second available medication designed to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s symptoms.

Man taking medicine

Donanemab is designed to treat symptoms of early Alzheimer’s disease, including mild cognitive impairment and mild Alzheimer’s dementia. (iStock)

Leqembi, the first new Alzheimer’s treatment in 20 years, was given full FDA approval in July 2023.

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Donanemab works by clearing built-up amyloid from the brain. It was shown to cause side effects such as “brain swelling and tiny bleeds,” researchers found.

FDA FULLY APPROVES ‘NOVEL’ ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE DRUG LEQEMBI, WILL BE COVERED BY MEDICARE

The Alzheimer’s Association, based in Chicago, released a statement welcoming the FDA’s finding that donanemab is effective for the treatment of early Alzheimer’s disease.

“A future with more approved Alzheimer’s treatments is a tremendous advancement for people eligible for these drugs,” said Joanne Pike, DrPH, Alzheimer’s Association president and CEO, in a statement provided to Fox News Digital. 

Eli Lilly

Eli Lilly officials presented clinical trial results showing that the drug, donanemab, slowed cognitive and functional decline for people with mild cognitive impairment due to early stages of Alzheimer’s. (iStock)

“Progress with treatment is happening. Now we need more types of treatments, targeting a variety of aspects of the disease, with greater efficacy and safety,” she continued.

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“A rich and robust life without the threat of memory loss, confusion or cognitive decline — this is what we envision.”

The next step toward approval of donanemab is FDA review.

Dr. Marc Siegel

Dr. Marc Siegel, clinical professor of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center, noted that donanemab is very similar to Leqembi, the current drug on the market that blocks amyloid formation.  (Dr. Marc Siegel)

Dr. Marc Siegel, clinical professor of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center and a Fox News medical contributor, who was not involved in the drug trials, noted that donanemab is very similar to Leqembi, the current drug on the market that blocks amyloid formation. 

“A rich and robust life without the threat of memory loss, confusion or cognitive decline — this is what we envision.”

— Joanne Pike, CEO of the Alzheimer’s Association

“The problem with … denonemab is similar — it can cause brain swelling and bleeding,” Siegel told Fox News Digital.

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“It is also expensive, as it’s once a month versus once every two weeks for Leqembi.” 

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Denonemab is “somewhat more effective,” Siegel noted, as it slows progression of Alzheimer’s by about 35% versus 27% for Leqembi.

“It may be better at removing plaques,” he said.

man with alzheimers supported by wife

“A future with more approved Alzheimer’s treatments is a tremendous advancement for people eligible for these drugs,” the Alzheimer’s Association president and CEO said in a statement. (iStock)

There may be limitations associated with these types of drugs, however, according to the doctor.

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“Many experts have told me that the obsession with amyloid formation may not be the holy grail it was once thought to be,” Siegel told Fox News Digital. 

“The study didn’t pay enough attention to tau proteins, which are also a key player here.” 

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Tau proteins, which cause “tangles” in the brain of Alzheimer’s patients, are not the primary targets of these drugs, Siegel said. 

                             

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“There is also the issue of neuroinflammation and neuronal transmission abnormalities, which precede the buildup of the plaque proteins and are important targets for research.”              

In response, Eli Lilly provided the below statement.

“Lilly is pursuing multiple approaches to treat Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Our pipeline of molecules in human testing includes ones aimed at amyloid (donanemab, remternetug), tau (OGA inhibitor), as well as lewy body dementia and frontotemporal dementia.”

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Does sunscreen cause skin cancer? Doctors debunk claims gone wild on social media

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Does sunscreen cause skin cancer? Doctors debunk claims gone wild on social media

Some claims on social media about sun safety have grown into a major misconception that sunscreen could cause skin cancer.

Hundreds of creators, many on TikTok, have posted videos arguing that the sun isn’t the culprit in causing cancer, but rather that harmful chemicals found in sunscreens are to blame.

This stems from a 2021 recall of Neutrogena spray sunscreens and one Aveeno product (Aveeno Protect + Refresh aerosol sunscreen) due to the presence of benzene, a known carcinogen.

JOHNSON & JOHNSON RECALLS SEVERAL SUNSCREENS: HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT PRODUCT

Johnson & Johnson officials confirmed that benzene is not a sunscreen ingredient, according to a Harvard Medical School advisory in Oct. 2021.

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Additional testing reportedly found such low levels of benzene in these products that it would not be expected to cause health problems.

Johnson & Johnson’s Neutrogena Beach Defense bottles are seen on display on a table. The Neutrogena Beach Defense is one of the sunscreens that was recalled due to containing benzene. (Aimee Dilger/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Experts advised choosing a different sunscreen brand as a solution.

But a national survey by the Orlando Health Cancer Institute in Florida found that one in seven adults under 35 years old believe sunscreen is more harmful to the skin than direct sun exposure.

SKIN CANCER CHECKS AND SUNSCREEN: WHY THESE (STILL) MATTER VERY MUCH FOR GOOD HEALTH

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Another 23% believe that drinking water and staying hydrated can prevent sunburns.

“This phenomenon taps into the public’s growing distrust of companies due to the proliferation of harmful chemicals in consumer products.”

Many Americans (32%) also believe that a tan makes people look better and healthier, the survey found.

Rajesh Nair, M.D., an oncology surgeon at the Orlando Health Cancer Institute, commented in a press release that there is “no such thing as a healthy tan.”

woman using sunscreen on a beach

Thirty-two percent of Americans believe that a tan makes people look better and healthier, according to the Orlando Health Cancer Institute study. (iStock)

“It’s really just a visual manifestation of damage to the skin,” he said. “But we’re fighting against a perceived positive image and health benefits of something that actually has a totally opposite reality, which is that suntanned skin represents an increased risk of a deadly disease.”

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“Age, gender and phenotype play a role, too.” 

Krista Rubin, a nurse practitioner and member of Mass General Cancer Center’s Melanoma Team, told Fox News Digital that there is “little evidence supporting the claim that sunscreens are carcinogenic.” 

SUNBURN SOS: 7 TIPS TO SOOTHE YOUR SUN-DAMAGED SKIN, ACCORDING TO A WELLNESS EXPERT

“There is clear-cut evidence of the link between UV radiation exposure and skin cancer,” she wrote in an email. “However, the risk of developing skin cancer isn’t limited to UV radiation exposure – age, gender and phenotype play a role, too.” 

Males are at a higher risk of developing skin cancer, Rubin said, as are people with blonde or red hair, light skin or light eyes. 

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man applies sunscreen on his shoulder at the beach

Sunburns are caused by damage from the sun’s UV rays, according to experts. (iStock)

Other risk factors include having a suppressed immune system, being a solid organ transplant recipient or taking certain medications.

Rubin reiterated that sunburns are caused by the sun’s UV rays damaging the skin. So, while drinking water in hot weather will help prevent dehydration and keep the body cool, it will not prevent sunburn.

HOW TO WEAR SUNSCREEN THE RIGHT WAY: YOUR GUIDE TO SPF

“A tan is visible evidence of skin injury,” the expert said. “Whether from the sun or from a tanning bed, tanning exposes the skin to high levels of UVA radiation, which we know is not healthy and is linked to both skin cancer and accelerated aging.”

Social media expert Eric Dahan, founder of Mighty Joy, said she believes social media has become “rife with misinformation about sunscreen.”

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Peeling skin on the shoulder after sunburn

“A tan is visible evidence of skin injury,” one expert said. (iStock)

“It’s often spread by well-meaning but overall uninformed, self-appointed health and wellness experts and select dermatologists,” said Dahan, who is based in California. 

“A lot of the misinformation is due to actual science being less engaging and more nuanced than bold (false) statements.” 

The spread of false information regarding sunscreen reflects a “general public sentiment” about what the products contain, Dahan said. 

WHAT SPF SHOULD YOUR SUNSCREEN HAVE? FIND OUT HOW IT MAY HELP PREMATURE AGING AND SKIN CANCER

“This phenomenon taps into the public’s growing distrust of companies due to the proliferation of harmful chemicals in consumer products,” he said. 

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“Over the years, we have discovered that materials that were deemed as ‘safe’ are highly harmful – from lead, BPA, PFaS and now plastics.”

woman and man spraying sunscreen in a kayak

A rise in cancer rates among young people could be driving a “distrust of companies,” one expert noted. (iStock)

There has also been a rise in cancer rates among young people, Dahan mentioned, which further drives a “healthy distrust of companies and government regulators.”

“When it comes to sunscreen, it seems a lot of the misinformation was driven by an old chemical used decades ago that has since been prohibited, after a contamination event led to a recall,” he said.

Among consumers of social media, Dahan suggested that it is “very difficult to determine what is true if you’re not an expert.” 

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“There are conflicting studies, conflicting opinions from seemingly credible individuals, flat-out false information, and an overall lack of confidence in the private companies making these products and in government regulators,” he said.

Some experts — including Dr. Nicky Gazy, a board-certified dermatologist in Florida — have responded on social media with the recommendation to use sunscreen alternatives that do not contain benzene.

a little girl has sunscreen applied to her face

One dermatologist recommended using zinc-based mineral sunscreen. (iStock)

“When it comes to skin cancer and skin health, any sunscreen is better than no sunscreen,” Gazy said in a TikTok video posted in July 2023.

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To decrease cumulative exposure to “chemical sunscreens,” Gazy recommended wearing a zinc-based mineral sunscreen. 

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“It’s actually what I recommend to my patients, especially my pregnant patients,” he said.

Fox News Digital reached out to Johnson & Johnson for comment.

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