The schizophrenia risk of the immigrants is twice as high as those of Israeli-born Ethiopian Jews.
A memorial ceremony for Jewish immigrants who died on the way to Israel from Ethiopia, June 5, 2016. (photo credit:MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Immigrants of Ethiopian origin have a 2.4-fold risk of developing type-2 diabetes and a 1.5 higher risk of contracting schizophrenia than other Israelis, according to a recent discussion in the Knesset Labor, Social Welfare and Health Committee.
Dr. Yonatan Reuven, who conducts research on Ethiopian Jewish health, said that due to lifestyle and nutrition changes, the diabetes risk is significantly higher even than Jews of Ethiopian origin who were born in Israel. The condition is often accompanied by hypertension, obesity and tooth decay.
The schizophrenia risk of the immigrants is twice as high as those of Israeli-born Ethiopian Jews. Although no explanation for this was given, 28% of the immigrants suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, and the men were significantly more likely to commit suicide.
A month ago, changes in regulations instituted by the Health Ministry went into effect, allowing some Ethiopian immigrants, homosexuals and elderly people to donate blood. The change resulted from new Israeli and foreign epidemiological data and the improvement in medical technologies and risk assessment.
For many years, Jews of Ethiopian heritage who were born in Israel have been able to donate blood without limitation.
However, those who were born in Ethiopia or if they spent over a year, since 1977, in a country where HIV was endemic, had been banned. It was also forbidden for people of any origin over the age of 65 to give a first blood donation.
Thanks to the new changes, restrictions on Ethiopian immigrants who were born there were dropped, except those who spent more than a year in an HIV-endemic country and less than a year has passed since they arrived in Israel.
The questionnaire – filled out by all would-be donors about possible behaviors that could increase the risk of HIV infection such as homosexuality or intravenous drug use – has been updated and is identical to those adopted by the US Food and Drug Administration and health authorities in Europe. The tests used here for HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C virus are significantly more sensitive than the old ones, thus the “window” of infection is being narrowed to a few days between infection by a carrier and testing for these viruses.
YALURONIC ACID IN CREAM, NOT INJECTION
A Bar-Ilan University research team has developed a unique technology that produces small molecules of anti-aging hyaluronic acid polymers that can be applied as a cream instead of injections. The team, headed by Prof. Rachel Lubart and Prof. Aharon Gedanken from the chemistry and physics departments and BIU’s Institute for Nanotechnology and Advanced Materials, have been involved in the past few years in the development of a technology for micronization and characterization of hyaluronic acid.
The skin, which plays an important role in protecting the body’s organs, is impenetrable.
Finding means to penetrate the skin barrier has challenged the medical field for years. Huge efforts have been made in developing ways to introduce hyaluronic acid into the skin, as it cannot penetrate it naturally.
Now, based on this development, para-medical cosmetics pioneer Hava Zingboim has produced the first formula that allows the hyaluronic acid to penetrate into the deeper skin layers by means of cream application and without injection.
A key property of hyaluronic acid, which is naturally present in the body, is its ability to adsorb large quantities of water. Hyaluronic acid is also an effective antioxidant, which means it can trap the free radicals formed in the skin during inflammatory processes or as a result of exposure to UV rays. These properties make it an important anti-aging agent.
The look of young skin can be measured by the amount of hyaluronic acid between the cells. As people age, the body gradually loses its ability to produce hyaluronic acid.
The decreasing availability of hyaluronic acid directly results in sagging skin, wrinkles and fine lines.
CAN OMEGA-3 HELP PREVENT ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE?
Neuroimaging shows increased blood flow in regions of the brain associated with memory and learning for people with higher omega-3 levels.
According to a new study headed by Dr. Daniel Amen of Costa Mesa, California, published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, blood flow in specific areas of the brain rises in patients with high omega-3 levels. The incidence of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is expected to triple in the coming decades, and no cure has been found.
Recently, interest in dietary approaches for prevention of cognitive decline has increased. In particular, the omega-3 fatty acids have shown anti-amyloid, anti-tau and anti-inflammatory actions in the brains of animals.
“This study is a major advance in demonstrating the value of nutritional intervention for brain health by using the latest brain imaging,” commented biology Prof. George Perry of the University of Texas at San Antonio and editor-in-chief of the journal.
When single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) is used to measure blood perfusion in the brain, images acquired from subjects performing various cognitive tasks show higher blood flow in specific brain regions. When these images were compared to the Omega-3 Index – a measure of the blood concentration of two omega-3 fatty acids called eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) – investigators found a statistically significant correlation between higher blood flow and higher Omega-3 Index.
Co-author Dr. William Harris of the University of South Dakota School of Medicine said, “Although we have considerable evidence that omega-3 levels are associated with better cardiovascular health, the role of the ‘fish oil’ fatty acids in mental health and brain physiology is just beginning to be explored. This study opens the door to the possibility that relatively simple dietary changes could favorably impact cognitive function.”
Family members embrace at Ben Gurion Airport as 72 new immigrants from Ethiopia arrive on June 6, 2017. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Surrounded by Israeli flags and dozens of balloons, more than 200 families and supporters gathered at Ben Gurion Airport on Tuesday night to welcome 72 new Ethiopian immigrants to Israel, the first group to immigrate since the government “resumed” Ethiopian immigration last October.
When the new immigrants emerged into the airport’s arrival hall, a huge cheer went through the crowd, which rushed forward to embrace family members they hadn’t seen in over a decade. Youth group members formed a welcoming line, chanting, “We won’t be afraid, even if the road is long.”
“We’re not angry but we were worried, we were very worried,” said Adisu Berhanu, who was waiting for his 13-year-old niece, whom he had last seen before he moved to Israel when she was a year old. “But here, today, the worries are behind us. There’s always hope, we hope everyone will be able to make aliyah.”
In August 2016, a year after the government first announced it would bring those still awaiting immigration, the Finance Ministry agreed to allocate money to allow 1,300 Ethiopians to come, the first step of a five-year program to bring 6,000 new immigrants at a rate of approximately 100 per month.
Although a celebratory flight landed at Ben Gurion International Airport in October with 63 Ethiopians who had already received their approval to immigrate, this was the first plane to arrive since then. The process for immigration approval has been plagued by accusations of racism and inefficiency against the Interior Ministry.
A crowd of more than 200 people waited for the new Ethiopian immigrants on June 6, 2017 at Ben Gurion Airport. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Family members said they hoped Tuesday’s flight would signify a turning point. There are two additional flights planned for June, including one next week with almost 100 people, according to International Christian Embassy Jerusalem spokesman David Parsons. ICEJ is sponsoring the first year of flights for the Ethiopian immigrants.
“They were projecting 1,300 in the first year, but there was a six-month delay, so they need to catch up a little,” said Parsons. “But today you can really feel the joy and excitement of families reuniting after a long time of separation.”
Parsons said that African Christians have been especially passionate about donating to ICEJ to pay for the flights of Ethiopian Jews, including a group of Tanzanian Christians who paid for the flights of an entire family of eight people.
Other people were less optimistic, including many of the activists who are part of the Struggle for Ethiopian Jewry. “The Israeli public is so apathetic,” said Moges Siyum, one activist. “How is it that just us alone are fighting to bring these Jews home? They are a symbol of all of the Jewish people.”
More than 50 members of youth groups waited with homemade signs and small flags, including Bnei Akiva and Fighters for Hope, an organization that runs one-week service trips to Ethiopia for post-army and post-national service young adults.
Family members greet new arrivals from Ethiopia at Ben Gurion Airport on June 6, 2017. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
“Coming here tonight is the least we can do to help them get off on the right foot,” said Tal Hadad, 18. “I wish [Israelis] would care a little bit more about this issue and accept people.”
Or Getahun from Kiryat Malachi was waiting with his grandfather for the daughter of his niece, whom he hadn’t seen in 15 years. His niece arrived on the October flight and has been eagerly awaiting the arrival of her daughter. His grandfather had never met his great-grandchildren. “It’s a sad story but ended with happiness,” said Getahun. “In my family there were so many reactions, some were angry, some were not, but at least it ended happily so the mom and daughter can meet.”
Many family members were separated for more than a decade before the reunion at Ben Gurion Airport on June 6, 2017. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)