Older Adults Turning to Pot for Common Health Problems

TUESDAY, Oct. 20, 2020 — Marijuana is fast becoming a favorite medication among older Americans, a new study finds.

Cannabis is being used to ease problems such as pain, sleep disturbances and psychiatric conditions like anxiety and depression, researchers say.

Among more than 550 patients surveyed, 15% had used cannabis within the past three years, and 50% of users said they used it regularly and mostly for medical purposes.

“Pain, insomnia and anxiety were the most common reasons for cannabis use and, for the most part, patients reported that cannabis was helping to address these issues, especially with insomnia and pain,” said researcher Christopher Kaufmann. He’s an assistant professor in the Division of Geriatrics and Gerontology in the Department of Medicine at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD).

Also, 61% of the patients who used cannabis had started using it after age 60.

“Surprisingly, we found that nearly three-fifths of cannabis users reported using cannabis for the first time as older adults. These individuals were a unique group compared to those who used cannabis in the past,” said researcher Kevin Yang, a third-year medical student at UCSD.

“New users were more likely to use cannabis for medical reasons than for recreation. The route of cannabis use also differed with new users more likely to use it topically as a lotion rather than by smoking or ingesting as edibles. Also, they were more likely to inform their doctor about their cannabis use, which reflects that cannabis use is no longer as stigmatized as it was previously,” Yang said in a university news release.

The report was published online recently in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

“There seems to be potential with cannabis, but we need more evidence-based research,” Kaufmann added. “We want to find out how cannabis compares to current medications available. Could cannabis be a safer alternative to treatments, such as opioids and benzodiazepines? Could cannabis help reduce the simultaneous use of multiple medications in older persons?

“We want to find out which conditions cannabis is most effective in treating,” Kaufmann said in the release. “Only then can we better counsel older adults on cannabis use.”

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This Face Mask Was a Best-Seller on Amazon Prime Day — and There Are Options for Kids, Too

With the number of COVID-19 cases rising in the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continues to recommend all Americans over the age of 2 wear a face covering in public settings to help slow the spread. So it should be no surprise that face masks were one of the most-shopped products on Amazon Prime Day last week. While many people stocked up on disposable masks, this reusable style from Safe-Mate x Case-Mate was also very popular.

Not only are the masks currently the best-seller in Amazon's Launchpad — a marketplace that lets customers find innovative products by smaller businesses or emerging brands — but they were also one of the most popular products PEOPLE readers purchased during the retailer’s two-day extravaganza. According to our data, readers bought over 12,000 face masks from the brand (a majority of which were in adult sizes).

But parents having trouble keeping little ones protected during the pandemic should consider the brands’ smaller face masks for kids. They’re made from a soft, washable cotton fabric that’s designed to wrap securely and comfortably around the nose and chin and feature a pocket for an optional filter (which can be purchased separately). Its contoured shape and soft elastic ear loops provide a more flexible fit that reviewers say is comfortable enough to wear for longer periods of time, like when they’re in school.  

“Bought two packs for 8 and 11 year olds as they are required for school,” one wrote. “They fit them well and they don't complain about comfort.”

Buy It! Safe-Mate x Case-Mate Kids’ Face Mask in Pink Pack of 3 for Ages 3-6, $19.99; amazon.com

“These fit well on kids, especially 5 or younger,” another commented. “My 3-year-old wears it when necessary without complaints. The enclosed filters are a nice bonus. Works well with clip-on lanyards. The masks are quality made, not too thick or too thin.” 

Phone accessories brand Case-Mate recently launched its own personal care brand, Safe-Mate, to help create in-demand essentials like face masks, mask filters, and no-contact thermometers — all of which are available on Amazon. What’s great about its protective gear is that it comes in a range of sizes for adults and kids (because one size doesn’t always fit all faces). There’s a youth mask for ages 3 to 6, along with an option for ages 7 to 11 that are available in a variety of colors and patterns. And parents can get one for themselves in sizes small-medium or large-extra large. 

While the masks are no longer at their Prime Day price, they’re still very reasonably priced. You can get a single kids' mask for $9 or a pack of three kids’ masks for $20, which you may want to have on hand for when the others are being cleaned.

Buy It! Safe-Mate x Case-Mate Kids’ Face Mask in Cheetah for Ages 3-6, $8.99; amazon.com

Buy It! Safe-Mate x Case-Mate Kid’s Face Mask in Tie Dye for Ages 7-11, $8.99; amazon.com

Buy It! Safe-Mate x Case-Mate Kids’ Face Mask in Black Pack of 3 for Ages 7-11, $19.86; amazon.com

Below, we also rounded up a few more top-rated face masks for kids that you can buy on Amazon, including this 50-pack of colorfully-printed disposable ones that have racked up over 3,200 five-star reviews. 

Shop More Top-Rated Kids’ Face Masks on Amazon:

  • EnerPlex Premium Kids Face Mask, $18.95 
  • Cubcoats Kids Face Mask 2-Pack, $8.49 with coupon (orig. $9.99)
  • Kids Single Use Disposable Face Mask Pack of 50, $34.99
  • Vanecia Disposable 3-Layers Earloop Face Masks for Kids Pack of 30, $13.99

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Rheumatoid arthritis treatment: The herbal supplement shown to ease swollen joints

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Rheumatoid arthritis, which affects more than 400,000 people in the UK, is an autoimmune disease. An autoimmune disease happens when the body’s natural defence system can’t tell the difference between your own cells and foreign cells, causing the body to mistakenly attack normal cells. “In rheumatoid arthritis, the body’s immune system targets affected joints, which leads to pain and swelling,” explains the NHS.

When the joints come under attack from the immune system, it can cause joint pain, swelling and stiffness.

According to the NHS, it may also cause more general symptoms, and inflammation in other parts of the body.

The symptoms can vary in their intensity but you may experience flares when your condition deteriorates and your symptoms become worse, says the health body.

Regular flare-ups can greatly diminish your quality of life, impeding your ability to perform even basic tasks.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis, but this doesn’t mean you have to live with the symptoms.

Evidence has identified a number of natural solutions that can ameliorate the effects of rheumatoid arthritis.

Borage seed oil, which is extracted from the seeds of the borage plants native to the Mediterranean region, has been supported by two notable studies.

In the first trial, 37 people with rheumatoid arthritis were randomly assigned to receive either borage seed oil containing 1.4 grams of GLA or a placebo of cotton seed oil daily for 24 weeks.

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GLA is an essential fatty acid that is found in borage seed oil.

According to Versus Arthritis, the essential fatty acid is important for maintaining a joint’s cell structure and function.

Compared to the placebo group, who showed no improvement during the trial, participants who received borage seed oil showed an improvement in:

  • Joint tenderness
  • Number of swollen joints
  • Morning stiffness.

In the second trial, 56 participants with rheumatoid arthritis were randomly assigned to take either a daily dose of borage seed capsules containing 2.8 g GLA or placebo capsules of sunflower seed oil for six months.

By the end of the study, 64 percent of those on borage seed oil showed improvement in joint tenderness and morning stiffness, compared to only 21 percent of those on placebo treatment.

There was a significant difference in the treatment outcome of the two patient groups in favour of borage seed oil.

General self-help tips

Engaging in regular exercise can also help to alleviate the symptoms associated with rheumatoid arthritis.

How? “Exercising regularly can help relieve stress, help keep your joints mobile, and strengthen the muscles supporting your joints,” explains the NHS.

As the health body explains, exercise can also help you lose weight if you’re overweight, which can put extra strain on your joints.

According to the National Rheumatoid Arthritis (NRAS), you should talk to a member of your rheumatology team or your GP about what exercise(s) you are considering.

“Think about a goal that exercise may help you to realistically achieve and reward yourself when you achieve your goal,” says the NRAS.

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The need to urinate more at this time of the day may signal prostate cancer

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Prostate cancer is the result of cancerous cells dividing uncontrollably in the prostate — a small walnut-shaped gland in men. It usually develops slowly, so there may be no signs for many years. Symptoms of prostate cancer do not usually appear until the prostate is large enough to affect the tube that carries urine from the bladder out of the penis (urethra), explains the NHS.

When this happens, you may notice a number of changes to your urinary habits.

One telltale sign of advanced prostate cancer is the need to urinate more often, especially at night, according to the American Cancer society (ACS).

Other symptoms include:

  • Blood in the urine or semen
  • Trouble getting an erection (erectile dysfunction or ED)
  • Pain in the hips, back (spine), chest (ribs), or other areas from cancer that has spread to bones
  • Weakness or numbness in the legs or feet, or even loss of bladder or bowel control from cancer pressing on the spinal cord.

According to the ACS, most of these problems are more likely to be caused by something other than prostate cancer.

“For example, trouble urinating is much more often caused by benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), a non-cancerous growth of the prostate,” says the health body.

Still, it’s important to flag up any unusual changes with your doctor to rule out prostate cancer, it adds.

How is prostate cancer treated?

Treatment for prostate cancer will depend on your individual circumstances, such as the stage of the cancer.

“When treatment is necessary, the aim is to cure or control the disease so it affects everyday life as little as possible and does not shorten life expectancy,” explains the NHS.

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Sometimes, if the cancer has already spread, the aim is not to cure it but to prolong life and delay symptoms, notes the health body.

Am I at risk?

It’s not known exactly what causes prostate cancer, although a number of things can increase your risk of developing the condition.

Age, ethnicity, genetics and lifestyle factors can all contribute to your risk of prostate cancer.

According to Cancer Research UK, prostate cancer is most prevalent in men aged 75 to 79 years.

Some inherited genes can also increase your risk of developing prostate cancer.

“These inherited genes are rare and account for only a small number of prostate cancers,” explains Cancer Research UK.

Evidence also suggests being overweight or obese increases your risk of advanced prostate cancer.

Obese means being very overweight with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher, and being overweight means having a BMI of between 25 and 30.

Researchers have found a link between being obese or overweight and cancers being higher grade (faster growing).

According to the NHS, research is ongoing into the links between diet and prostate cancer, and there is some evidence that a diet high in calcium is linked to an increased risk of developing prostate cancer.

What is most important is to focus on your overall dietary approach rather than singling out specific items.

As Cancer Research UK points out, having a healthy and balanced diet can reduce the risk of cancer by helping you keep a healthy weight or lose weight.

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Bisexual adults less likely to enjoy health benefits of education

Education has long been linked to health—the more schooling people have, the healthier they are likely to be. But a new study from Rice University sociologists found that the health benefits of a good education are less evident among well-educated bisexual adults.

“Education and health: The joint role of gender and sexual identity” examines health among straight, bisexual, gay and lesbian adults with various educational backgrounds. Authors Zhe Zhang, a postdoctoral research fellow at Rice, Bridget Gorman, a professor of sociology at Rice, and Alexa Solazzo, a postdoctoral research fellow at the Harvard University T.H. Chan School of Public Health, were particularly interested in bisexual adults, since they may experience distinctive health vulnerabilities.

The researchers found that while having at least a bachelor’s degree was linked to better health among bisexual adults, they received less benefit than heterosexual and gay or lesbian adults with similar education. This effect was especially true for bisexual women.

“The health benefits of education are well established—so much so that anything we do to promote and improve public education should really be viewed as health policy,” Gorman said. “It’s that impactful on health and well-being. That our analysis showed less health benefit associated with education among bisexual adults compared to heterosexual, gay and lesbian adults is concerning.”

While the researchers could not pinpoint the exact cause, they theorized the problem might be social stigma and additional anxiety among women due to gender discrimination, Zhang said.

“Discrimination of any kind can take a heavy toll on health,” Zhang said. “While we cannot say with certainty that is what is happening in this study, it’s a very real possibility.”

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Improving health care autonomy for young adults with autism

Independence has always been a driving force in Nancy Cheak-Zamora’s life. Now an associate professor at the University of Missouri School of Health Professions, she grew up undiagnosed with dyslexia, a learning disorder that can lead to difficulty reading.

“Although I wasn’t receiving all the assistance or services I probably needed because I was undiagnosed, I always had supportive people in my life who encouraged me and gave me opportunities to be successful,” Cheak-Zamora said. “That encouragement fundamentally allowed me to take on more independence and work through challenges in a way that has helped me succeed in both academia and in life.”

Eager to offer the same encouragement she received growing up, Cheak-Zamora’s research is rooted in a desire to improve the independence of young adults with developmental disabilities, particularly autism. One of her previous studies found young adults with autism were half as likely to receive health care transition services, such as learning how to schedule a doctor’s appointment or fill a prescription, compared to other young adults with special health care needs.

To help solve this disparity, she recently developed the world’s first health care “transition readiness assessment” specifically for adolescents with autism. A transition readiness assessment identifies skills adolescents need to transition from pediatric care to adult care and be able to manage their health appropriately. By partnering with five autism clinics across the United States, including the MU Thompson Center for Autism & Neurodevelopmental Disorders, Cheak-Zamora had 500 caregivers of young adults with autism in her study.

She found young adults with autism could benefit by better understanding medication management, insurance policies and health care finances; developing skills like scheduling a doctor’s appointment or filling a prescription; and receiving education on other areas like interactions with law enforcement and understanding their sexual health and relationship needs.

“Building their autonomy and independence in a health care setting is important because once they can meet the challenges in front of them in one aspect of their life, the research shows that confidence will carry over into other areas of their life as well,” Cheak-Zamora said. “Successfully scheduling a doctor’s appointment can translate into more autonomous behavior in school or taking more ownership of chores at home.”

Cheak-Zamora added that health care providers can use her transition readiness assessment to better identify gaps in education and areas for improvement when caring for young adults with autism, which will take the pressure off already overburdened caregivers.

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Why My Beauty Routine Was So Important During My Battle With Breast Cancer

This story is part of Survivor's Guide, a series on navigating the impact of breast cancer through beauty and self-care.

One in eight women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. I am one of those women and I've learned that breast cancer can only be defined by uncertainty. While it's a different journey for everyone, one thing always holds true: It doesn't affect only the person who is diagnosed. Whether you're going through it yourself or supporting someone else, it's difficult. Rarely are there definitive answers. With a cancer diagnosis, life changes in an instant and you have no choice but to persevere through every unknown. 

But amid unimaginable ups and downs, I found one constant: my beauty routine. I was fortunate enough to have my mom (my ultimate beauty queen) by my side through it all. She knew exactly how to help me keep a smile on my face. While I was recovering, we would do face masks and manicures together. Or when I couldn't lift my arms after my mastectomy, she'd blow-out my hair and help me swipe on my signature red lipstick. And when I looked in the mirror, I saw myself. 

The impact of beauty should not be underestimated.

Different things — a touch of lip balm, the feeling of a fresh face, a spritz of scent — might spark a similar feeling for you. Regardless of what that ritual might be, the impact of beauty should not be underestimated. Being able to feel like yourself is one of the most powerful treatments of all. It is not being vain. It is not superficial. It's not for anyone else. When you look like yourself, you feel like yourself. 

I hope the stories and tips from Allure's Survivor's Guide bring you happiness even if it's just for a moment. And survivor to survivor, no diagnosis will ever define you. You are beautiful just the way you are.

Take what you need from our survivor's guide: skin-care advice, courage, help with hair loss, or just the knowledge that you are never alone.

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Prospective parents’ mental health linked to premature births

Both a mother’s and father’s mental health are associated with increased risk that their baby will be born premature, a new study has found.

The research, led by the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI) and published in EClinicalMedicine, found men with persistent mental health problems through adolescence and young adulthood were more likely to have a baby born premature. Women with anxiety and depression during pregnancy were more likely to have a preterm birth.

Study co-lead MCRI’S and Deakin University’s Dr. Elizabeth Spry said prior to this study the impact of maternal and paternal mental health history on offspring preterm birth and birth weight was unknown.

The study involved 398 women and 267 men from the Victorian Intergenerational Health Cohort Study (VIHCS), who were assessed over 15 years for anxiety and depressive symptoms from adolescence to young adulthood and during subsequent pregnancies.

Dr. Spry said that fathers were often neglected in research on children’s early growth and development.

“We found that men with persistent mental health symptoms in the decades leading up to pregnancy were more likely to have premature babies. Our study joins growing evidence of the important role that fathers play in the health and development of their children, and suggests that these links begin well before babies are conceived,” she said.

“Most research on children’s early development has focused on mums. This means that public health recommendations are also almost entirely focused on what mums should and shouldn’t do when planning pregnancy or having a child. In contrast, men receive very little guidance or support.”

Study co-lead, King’s College London’s Dr. Claire Wilson, said understanding how mental health problems starting in adolescence affect birth outcomes could open up new opportunities for the prevention of premature birth.

“Mental health may affect parental reproductive biology and antenatal pathways and can have an impact on genetic and environmental influences such as substance use and nutrition, which could be linked to a baby’s development,” she said.

“Pre-term birth is common and is a leading cause of infant deaths worldwide, but the underlying causes have been largely unknown. Early and mid-late preterm birth can carry lifelong effects on health and development such as visual and hearing impairments and poor health and growth.”

MCRI Professor George Patton said the findings further strengthened the need for expanding preconception mental health care to both men and women, prior to them becoming parents.

“The findings emphasize a need for coordinated care between child and adolescent, adult and specialist perinatal health services,” he said.

“Intervention in adolescence is likely to yield benefits not only for parents’ own continuing mental health, but also for their child’s development, both by reducing the risk of premature birth and promoting positive engagement and nurturing care across the early years of life.”

Professor Patton said prospective parent’s mental health had also suffered during COVID-19 and the subsequent lockdowns.

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David Seaman health: Former goalie opens about his punctured scrotum – symptoms

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David Seaman’s professional career lasted from 1981 to 2004, although he is best known for his years spent playing for Arsenal. The peak of Seaman’s career was during his period as Arsenal and England goalkeeper in the 90s and early 2000s. He won 75 caps for the England national football team, and is the country’s second-most capped goalkeeper.

At the peak of his success, the sporting legend was subjected to an excruciating injury that would make any man wince.

The goalkeeping legend punctured his scrotum during a collision in the 90s.

Seaman suffered the agonising wound in a duel for the ball against Leeds United striker Lee Chapman while playing for the Gunners in the 1990s.

Despite the devastating blow, the Arsenal goalkeeper came back out to play the second half of the match after having an emergency stitching during the interval.

The torturous episode did not end there, however.

David was ridiculed by Leeds midfielder Gordon Strachan following the traumatic encounter.

But Scotland international Strachan retracted his retort when he realised the pain Seaman had suffered.

“I’ve had all sorts of injuries,’ David told The Athletic on their Handbrake Off podcast.

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He continued: “The ball come across from my left on the ground and as I went out to get it, (Lee) Chapman has come to slide in as well to get it and he actually had his studs start on my knee and go right to my groin area.

“I was in agony on the pitch and I remember it clear as day. I was laying in a crumple and I have got Gordon Strachan right in my face as I am laying on the ground and he goes, ‘Get up you Southern softie!”

He described the nature of the injury in grisly detail, revealing how he knew it was serious when blood started gushing from his underlap.

Testicular trauma – what to look for

The first sign of trauma to the testicle or scrotum is most often severe pain.

The Urology Care Foundation (UCF) explains: “Pain around the testicle may also be due to infection or swelling of the epididymis.”

The epididymis is a tube located at the back of the testicles that stores and carries sperm.

“Because the epididymis has a very thin wall, it easily becomes red and swollen by infection or injury,” says the UCF.

According to the health body, if not treated, in rare cases the blood supply to the testicle can get blocked.

“Men who suffer more than a minor injury to the scrotum should seek care by a urologist,” it advises.

Reasons to seek medical care are:

  • Any penetrating injury to the scrotum
  • Bruising and/or swelling of the scrotum
  • Trouble peeing or blood in the urine
  • Fevers after testicular injury.

Sometimes, what seems to be testicle pain is caused by a problem that starts in the groin, abdomen or somewhere else, notes Mayo Clinic.

“For example, kidney stones and some hernias can cause testicle pain,” adds the health body.

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Ibuprofen and coronavirus: Can you still take cold and flu tablets?

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Coronavirus has now spread to more than 36 million people around the globe, of which more than one million people have died. According to recent research some painkillers may aggravate the deadly infection and therefore people have been advised about which medications to take. So can you still take cold and flu tablets?

Coronavirus has seen several countries around the world descend into states of panic, with lockdowns, travel bans and curfews being put into effect.

Coronavirus cases around the world are growing daily, with the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson claiming the number of cases could double every five to six days if nothing is undertaken to curb the spread of the killer virus.

Britons have been advised to undertake social distancing measures, avoid non-essential social contact, large gatherings and unnecessary travel.

To safeguard higher risk grounds, Mr Johnson has called on Britons to work from where possible and to self-isolate for 14 days as a household if any member of the family experiences coronavirus symptoms.

Coronavirus is an illness which hit the UK earlier this year and typically affects your lungs and airways. 

Anyone who has a high temperature or a new and continuous cough is now required to stay at home for 14 days.

However, some people can experience more severe symptoms, such as pneumonia and even organ failure.

The Government asks anyone experiencing symptoms to remain at home and to not seek advice unless symptoms worsens.

Can you take ibuprofen for coronavirus?

Anti-inflammatory drugs can “dampen down the immune system, which may slow the recovery process” claims one UK virologist.

French health minister Olivier Veran – a qualified neurologist – has warned ibuprofen and other medicines known as Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) could make things worse.

On Twitter, he wrote: “Taking anti-inflammatory drugs (ibuprofen, cortisone, etc.) may be a factor in worsening the infection.

“If you have a fever, take paracetamol. If you are already on anti-inflammatory drugs or if in doubt, ask your doctor for advice.”

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A virologist at the University of Reading said anti-inflammatory drugs can “dampen” the immune system and subsequently slow recovery.

Currently the NHS advice for coronavirus treatment reads: “There is currently no specific treatment for coronavirus.

“Antibiotics do not help, as they do not work against viruses.

“Treatment aims to relieve the symptoms while your body fights the illness.

“You’ll need to stay in isolation, away from other people, until you have recovered.”

Other people have said paracetamol is better for people with symptoms of the virus.

Dr Tom Wingfield, senior lecturer and consultant physician at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, said paracetamol was “preferred” because it is less likely to cause side effects.

He told Sky News: “Side effects associated with NSAIDs such as ibuprofen, especially if taken regularly for a prolonged period, are stomach irritation and stress on the kidneys, which can be more severe in people who already have stomach or kidney issues.

“It is not clear from the French minister’s comments whether the advice given is generic ‘good practice’ guidance or specifically related to data emerging from cases of COVID-19, but this might become clear in due course.”

Can you take cold and flu tablets?

Cold and flu tablets do not cure colds, but there is some evidence that a combination of these tablets can provide some relief.

Cold and flu tablets contain decongestants, pain killers, antihistamines and cough suppressants.

Typically, the most common pain reliever contained in cold and flu medication is paracetamol which helps to ease muscle aches and pains, as well as joint pain, headaches, back pain and period pain.

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