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Showing posts from July, 2008

Study - Women’s Heart Disease Risk not Related to Estrogen Levels

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Investigators from the longitudinal Study of Women's Health Across the Nation (SWAN) [1], have uncovered an indirect link to a woman’s risk of heart disease following menopause. The researchers say the increased incidence of heart disease may not be the result of “declines in estrogen levels per se, “ but rather the result of metabolic syndrome – increased waist circumference, elevated triglyceride levels, and lower levels of HDL (good) cholesterol – factors that drive increases in testosterone levels.
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The group, led by Dr Imke Janssen (Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, IL), published their results in July 28, 2008 Archives of Internal Medicine. The SWAN study included multiple ethnic groups, including 3302 women enrolled at seven sites throughout the United States. Almost half the women were Caucasian, about a quarter were African American, 12% were Japanese, 11% were Chinese, and 5% were Hispanic, .Natural menopause, without hormone therapy, was achieved by 949 women, …

Omega 3’s, not Genes, Responsible for Japan’s Lower Heart Disease Rates

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Japan has the lowest rate of coronary heart disease than any other developed country. Researchers recently compared levels of marine derived omega 3 fatty acids in a cross-sectional study of 281 Japanese men (born and living in Japan), 306 white men (white men born and living in the United States), and 281 Japanese American men (Japanese men born and living in the United States). Serum levels of concentrated fatty acids were measured, as well as coronary artery calcium, or CAC, and IMT (a measurement of the thickness) of the carotid artery wall.

The purpose of the research was to determine whether marine-derived omega-3 fatty acids had an effect on atherosclerosis, by comparing Japanese to white populations. The study, published in the August 5, 2008 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, involved 868 randomly selected men aged 40 to 49, who completed a lifestyle questionnaire, physical exam, and blood tests to measure cholesterol and omega-3 fatty acid levels. …

New Research Links Gene Variance to Childhood Obesity

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In the past few years, scientists have speculated about the role of genes and obesity. We have learned that genetic variances can be found in obese populations, but have not yet completely found good use of that knowledge.

According to a new study, UK researchers have recently determined that FTO obesity-risk genotype plays a role in appetite behavior in children. Children who possess the gene variance show impaired levels of food satiety. The study, suggests “that associations between FTO polymorphisms and weight maybe due to differences in appetitive responses.” In other terms, the normal cues that tell children they’ve had enough food, seem to be impaired.

Participants for the research were recruited from the Twins Early Development Study(TEDS), and were genotyped for ntronic FTO SNP (rs9939609). Assessments were performed using the Satiety Responsiveness and Enjoyment of Food) from the Child Eating Behaviour Questionnaire, a parent completed tool.

The authors write, “We used two …

HPV Vaccine Causes Public Concern despite FDA/CDC Support

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The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has documented more than 9700 adverse events related to HPV vaccine, as of June 30, 2008 – numbers that are causing public concern. HPV vaccine “side effects that have been reported are real and they cannot be brushed aside," according to Diane Harper, MD, from the Dartmouth Medical School, in Hanover, New Hampshire in, a statement to Medscape Oncology. Dr. Harper was a principal investigator during clinical trials of the vaccine.

The most serious complications include neurologic, thromboembolic (blood clot), and autoimmune events in those who received HPV vaccine. Guillain-Barré syndrome, headache, thrombembolism, gastrointestinal complaints, disorders of the lymphatic system, hypersensitivity reactions, bronchospasm, musculoskeletal disorders, connective tissue abnormalities, and generalized rash (urticaria) are among the most serious documented effects seen in women who have received the vaccine. More common, and less worrisome difficul…

Blood Test Accurately Predicts Risk of Prostate Cancer Recurrence

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Researchers have identified seven biomarkers that can be found in the bloodstream to accurately predict men’s risk of prostate cancer recurrence, improving current methods by 15%. Lead author Shahrokh Shariat, MD, from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, in Dallas, said in a news release, "Neither preoperative magnetic resonance imaging nor any of the clinical features we have used before even come close to this level of accuracy." The findings are preliminary, and appear in the June 15 issue of Clinical Cancer Research.

The seven biomarkers include:

• transforming growth factor-β1
• interleukin-6
• interleukin-6 soluble receptor
• vascular endothelial growth factor
• vascular cell adhesion molecule-1
• endoglin and urokinase plasminogen activator

The researchers suggest that the biomarkers may be more accurate than PSA, biopsy Gleason sum, and clinical stage of prostate cancer. Dr. Shariat explains, “We have been looking at these biomarkers for the past 10 to …

New Treatment for MRSA Emerges

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Daptomycin, a newly approved antibiotic has been shown to be effective for treating Methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). The exciting news is that it’s the first of it’s kind, and it can be used to treat other complicated infections caused by Gram positive bacteria.

The drug, marketed as Cubicin, is a natural product derived from the fermentation of Streptomyces roseosporus, a spore found in the soil. The study was reported at the 2008 Annual Conference on Antimicrobial Resistance, held in Bethesda, Maryland. The antibacterial agent was also effective for the treatment of methicillin-susceptible S aureus (MSSA), infections known to prolong hospitalization and result in exorbitant costs for hospitalization.

According to a Medscape Infectious Diseases interview with Kenneth Lamp, PharmD, senior director of Registry Research for Cubist Pharmaceuticals, Inc, in Lexington, Massachusetts, “Since daptomycin has equivalent activity for MRSA and MSSA, we sought to examine …

New Evidence Links Low Levels of Vitamin D to Stroke Deaths

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New evidence suggests there is yet another benefit of Vitamin D supplementation. The study shows that low levels of Vitamin D increase a person’s chances of dying following a stroke, making Vitamin D a promising means of prevention.

Other risk factors aside, investigators at University of Heidelberg, in Germany found that people with low levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D were more likely to die after suffering from stroke. The researchers studied 3316 patients referred for coronary angiography, measuring serum levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D and 1, 25-dihydroxyvitamin D in 3299 and 3315 subjects, respectively. After 7.75 years 769 patients died. According to the authors, "Vitamin D supplementation in stroke patients has already been shown to reduce osteopenia, fractures, and falls while improving muscle strength. Apart from these beneficial effects, our results suggest that vitamin D might also directly protect against stroke."

Vitamin D supplementation has become the “darli…

High Fiber Diet Found to Reduce Complications during Pregnancy-Study

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Preeclampsia, and other disorders that cause high blood pressure during pregnancy, account for 76,000 maternal and 50,000 infant deaths each year. (1) According to a new study, women who consume a high fiber diet early in pregnancy can reduce their risk of developing preeclampsia by 70%, when compared to women with the lowest fiber intakes.

The study comes from Dr Chunfang Qiu (Swedish Medical Center, Seattle, Washington) and colleagues, and is reported online July 17, 2008 in the American Journal of Hypertension. Preeclampsia is characterized by high blood pressure, protein in the urine, sudden weight increases, visual changes and headaches. Once the condition develops, it progresses rapidly, and can lead to death. Symptoms usually occur after 20 weeks. Unfortunately, not all women experience symptoms, making pre-natal care essential to detect preeclampsia, and related conditions - toxemia and pregnancy induced hypertension (PIH).

Obesity, family history of Type II diabetes, ex…

Zinc Benefits Children with Diarrhea

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Zinc supplementation is shown to effectively lessen the severity and duration of diarrhea in children age six months to five years, according to a recent Cochrane review. “Zinc is clearly of benefit to children with diarrhea,” according to lead researcher Marzia Lazzerini, who works at the Unit of Research on Health Services and International Health in Trieste, Italy.

The study supports the guidelines already in existence from the World Health Organization. Lazzerini says, “These studies back up previous research that shows zinc can play an important role in restoring children with diarrhea to full health.” The World Health Organization currently recommends treating children with diarrhea for 10 to 14 days with oral zinc and salt rehydration solution.

The information is of importance to parents. Zinc is essential for physical development in children, and plays an important role in immunity and proper function of the gastrointestinal tract. Of note, the current study found that zinc…

Climate Change Expected to Increase U.S. Incidence of Kidney Stones

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Climate change has become a buzzword; increasing global temperatures will have health ramifications that perhaps we haven’t considered. Recent health information suggests that hotter weather is likely to increase the incidence of kidney stones in the US, and potentially, worldwide. The news comes from researchers at the University of Texas at Dallas and the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.

The conclusions are based on an analysis of the current rate of kidney stones in relationship to how much temperatures are going to increase in the coming years. Tom Brikowski, PhD, and colleagues estimate that hotter climates will lead to an increased incidence of kidney stones up to 30% in some areas by the year 2050. Populations hardest hit include the Midwest and Southern states according to a statement from the research team, published in the July 15 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

There’s not much to the scientific methods used to develop …

ALA May Lower Risk of Non-Fatal Heart Attack

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ALA, or alpha linolenic acid, is one of the Omega 3 fatty acids. You can find it in soybeans, canola oil and flaxseed oil, and nuts. Studies about the benefits of fish oil have trumped discussions about ALA for good health, but according to a new study, those with higher levels of ALA had significant reductions in fatal heart attacks. The findings may be most important to reducing heart attack risk in developing countries where fatty acids are not consumed in large quantities, as well as for those who cannot eat fish.

Dr William Harris (University of South Dakota, Sioux Falls), says in an editorial, "If ALA were able to do the same 'heavy lifting' that [eicosapentaenoic acid] EPA and [docosahexaenoic acid] DHA do, this would be welcomed news, because the capacity to produce ALA is essentially limitless, whereas there are only so many fish in the sea." EPA and DHA are found in fish oils.

The study included 1819 patients who were heart attack survivors. All of the pa…

High Intensity Interval Training Superior to Moderate Exercise for Reversing Metabolic Syndrome- Study

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According to the results of a Norwegian study, a group of participants who performed high intensity interval training for sixteen weeks, successfully eliminated signs of metabolic syndrome, present at baseline, when compared to people who performed regular, moderate intensity exercise. Senior author of the study, Dr Ulrik Wisløff (Norwegian University of Science and Technology), says, "This is the first time a study has compared the real cardiovascular effects of exercise intensity in individuals with metabolic syndrome. Individuals who took part in the study exercised with different intensities but used the same amount of energy in each training session."

When compared to the moderate intensity group, oxygen absorption rates also increased by 35% with more vigorous exercise, versus 16% in the moderate exercise group. The authors speculate that the higher heart rates required for high intensity training are more beneficial for improving endothelial function, perhaps meaning…

Screening Children for Cholesterol – Obesity Epidemic Spurs New Guidelines

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© Photographer: Vladacanon | Agency: Dreamstime.com

The obesity epidemic in children has reached such grand proportions that the American Academy of Pediatrics has issued new guidelines for treating children at risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome. The prospect of treating a child with cholesterol lowering medication is somewhat frightening. Nevertheless, the report “reemphasizes the need for prevention of cardiovascular disease by following Dietary Guidelines for Americans and increasing physical activity, and also includes a review of the pharmacologic agents and indications for treating dyslipidemia in children”. The report is co-authored by Drs Stephen Daniels (University of Colorado School of Medicine, Denver), Frank Greer (University of Wisconsin Medical School), and the Committee on Nutrition, published in the July 1 2008 issue of Pediatrics.

The newest data emphasizes the negative effects of saturated fats, trans fats, carbohydrates, cholesterol, ob…

Personal Care Products are Toxic to Your Health

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Most of us don’t give enough thought to toxin exposure in our daily lives. Consumers are lead to believe that carcinogens and other toxins in personal care products are harmless because they’re present in such small quantities. The ugly truth is that we use multiple personal care products, exposing us to hundreds of chemicals throughout the day.

Personal care products are deemed safe by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review panel. Warnings on products read “safe as used” - and they are, but only if you’re as healthy as a newborn, and use only that product. The problem is, we use many personal care products, and the assumption of the safety panel is that we are already without risks. Products designed for babies can be as toxic as those manufactured for adults.

The Breast Cancer Fund, Women's Voices for the Earth, Health Care Without Harm, the Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition, Clean Water Action, and the Environmental Working Group conducted in depth surveys targeting individual u…

Anti-Bacterial Products May Promote Antibiotic Resistance

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It is bad enough news that antibiotics used to treat infections are becoming less effective. According to a new study, household disinfectants can also lead to trouble.” With increasing use of cleaning and hygiene products containing QACs (Quaternary ammonium compounds) in the home, there is a valid public health concern that biocide resistance may emerge in the community environment”, according to study author Allison Aiello, PhD, MS, an assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of Michigan School of Public Health in Ann Arbor. It seems that household disinfectants may actually mutate bacteria, making them resistant to our efforts at eradiation.

The study included 238 households who were assigned to use either non anti-bacterial or anti-bacterial cleansers. Bacterial cultures were performed at baseline and again at one year. Decreased susceptibility of common bacteria (staphylococcus, Acinetobacter baumannii, Enterobacter agglomerans , E cloacae, Klebsiella pneumonia,and …

Probiotics Found to Help Prevent Respiratory Infection in Children - Study

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Synbiotics, a combination of probiotic and prebiotic substances that work synergistically, may help prevent respiratory tract infections in children, according to a new study. The news is published in the July issue of Pediatrics.

Study investigators gave pregnant mothers a mixture of four probiotic species(Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG and LC705, Bifid bacterium breve Bb99, and Propionibacterium freudenreichii ssp shermanii), or a placebo for four weeks prior to childbirth. Their infants were given the same mixture, in addition to 0.8 g of galacto oligosaccharides - or placebo - up to six months of age. Follow-up included clinical examination and questionnaires to determine safety and childhood growth, performed at ages 3, 6, and 24 months.

All of the children did well. There were no safety concerns found. All of the infants grew normally, experienced no adverse events, nor did they have any digestive or other feeding related problems. Of the 1018 eligible infants included in the …

How Animals Contribute to Our Health

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Pet therapy has many applications toward good health. Our animal friends offer much, but often, such a simple approach to better health is missed. It's common to find cats and dogs in assisted living facilities. Patients with Alzheimer's disease experience reduced periods of agitation and aggression with pet therapy.

Exercise has huge benefits. Walking the dog, throwing a Frisbee, or playing catch with your companion are wonderful activities for overall health and well-being. Studies show that social interactions, associated with pet ownership can provide relief of mental stress, providing better blood pressure control.

Pets can help our children. According to a cohort study published in the April 30 online issue of the British Medical Journal:

"Contrary to the common belief that infectious diseases early in life may protect against the development of allergic diseases, the risk of atopic dermatitis in this cohort increased with each infectious disease before age six mont…