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‘Brazilians’ increase risk of viral infection: study

A trend for shaving, clipping or waxing pubic hair may encourage the spread of a skin virus, French doctors suggested this week.

'Brazilians' increase risk of viral infection: study
Photo: Worak/flickr

In a letter to a specialist journal, dermatologists in Nice said that over the past decade they had noted a rise in cases of a so-called poxvirus called Molluscum contagiosum, or MCV.

MCV causes painless, pearl-like nodules on the skin that usually disappear after a few months among people of normal health. It is sometimes seen on the face, arms and hands, but can spread through scratching or sexual contact.

The doctors reported on the case of 30 patients who over 14 months were treated at a private dermatology clinic in Nice for sexually-transmitted MCV.

Six of them were women and the rest were men; their average age was 29.

All but three of the patients had used pubic hair removal, with 70 percent using shaving.

All had MCV nodules on the pubis, abdomen or legs, while 10 also had other conditions such genital warts, bacterial skin infection or ingrown hairs.

Hair removal may cause "microtraumisms" to the surface of the skin, facilitating infection by the virus and other "minor" sexually transmitted infections, the doctors theorise.

The risk appears to be higher for shaving, but does not apply to laser treatment for hair removal.

"Pubic hair removal is a body modification for the sake of fashion, especially in young women and adolescents but also growing among men," according to the letter, published in the journal Sexually Transmitted Infections.

"The reasons for choosing genital hair removal remain unclear but may be linked with Internet-based pornography."

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Paris has one of highest rates of psychosis, new study finds

Paris and southeast London have the highest rate of people reporting psychotic episodes, according to a new international study that compared rates of the mental disorder in six countries.

Paris has one of highest rates of psychosis, new study finds
Photo: AFP

A total of 17 areas in Britain, France, Italy, The Netherlands, Spain and Brazil were covered in the report in the Journal of the American Medical

Association (JAMA) Psychiatry.

Researchers described the study as the largest international comparison of psychotic disorders to date, and the first major analysis of its kind in more than 25 years.

A previous study in 1992 that spanned eight diverse settings in rural and urban India, Japan, Europe and North America found that the rates of
schizophrenic disorders were “surprisingly similar.”

But the latest study found that rates of psychosis can be close to eight times higher in some regions compared to others, with the lowest incidence seen in the area around Santiago, Spain, and the highest in inner-city Paris and Southeast London.

“It's well-established that psychotic disorders, such as schizophrenia, are highly heritable, but genetics don't tell the whole story,” said lead author James Kirkbride, professor of psychiatry at University College London.

“Our findings suggest that environmental factors can also play a big role.”

The study was based on people aged 18-64 who contacted mental health services after a suspected first psychotic episode.

A total of 2,774 cases were analyzed.

Population density was not a factor in the psychotic rate, nor could differences be explained by age, sex or ethnic composition.

Rather, researchers found higher rates in younger men, among racial and ethnic minorities, and that “the strongest area-level predictor of high rates of psychotic disorders was a low rate of owner-occupied housing,” said the report.

The findings suggest “social deprivation” may be at play, said co-author Hannah Jongsma, a researcher at the University of Cambridge.

“People in areas that are socially deprived may have more social stresses, which could predict psychosis incidence, as suggested by other studies,” Jongsma said.

“An alternative explanation could be that owner-occupied housing is an indicator of social stability and cohesiveness, relating to stronger support networks.”

According to an accompanying editorial in JAMA, the study, like the 1992 one before it, “raises more questions than it answers.”

“We hope that it will spur further international efforts to explore how variation in sociocultural environments might be associated with psychosis incidence.”