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Showing posts from September, 2008

Including Fish in Infant Diet Decreases Risk of Eczema - Study

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The First issue of Archives of Disease in Childhood reveals the results of a study showing that introducing fish into your child’s diet, before age 9 months, decreases the chances of eczema.

Bernt Alm, from the University of Gothenburg in Gothenburg, Sweden, and colleagues write, "It has been suggested that environmental factors and the introduction of food affect the risk of eczema”, an allergic skin condition that has steadily been on the increase in Western society.

The results were obtained by enrolling infants born in 2003 in Western Sweden, randomly selected via invitation. Questionnaires were provided along with the invitation when the infants reached age 6 months, followed by a second questionnaire at twelve months - 60.2% of the families answered both.
The results showed that 20.9% of the infants developed past or current eczema with the average onset at age four months. Family history of eczema was taken into account as a contributing factor.

The researchers found that pr…

Patients Leave the Hospital Earlier than Expected on Busy Days

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According to the results of a hospital analysis, published in the Summer 2008 issue of the RAND Journal of Economics, patients are more likely to be discharged earlier from the hospital on busy days. The authors say the disparity has “emerged as a key policy priority”.

Rajiv Sharma, Miron Stano, and Renu Gehring looked at Oregon hospital data that might reveal how demands on hospitals affect patient care. The group studied 380,000 hospital discharge records. The information was taken from methods designed to detect discriminatory practices in hospitals. No such behaviors were found, but the researchers discovered that hospital patients were sent home earlier than expected when demand for hospital beds is high, "without the need to control for differences across patient groups in their health status or care seeking behavior."

It seems that hospitals would rather send people home than refuse admission, a practice that is likely necessary to deliver care to those who are acutel…

Study Shows one Session of Exercise Helps Prevent Disease

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One out of three Americans are obese or overweight, a state of affairs that leads to insulin resistance and increased risk for the development of type 2 diabetes. Exercise can be daunting, especially when the goal seems distant. According to new research, a single session of exercise can improve metabolic health by increasing fat oxidation and storage. “Exercise decreases everyone’s insulin resistance and therefore reduces the chances of developing diseases such as type 2 diabetes", says Andrea Cornford, a member of the research team.


The study, conducted by Andrea Cornford, Minghua Li, Simon Schenk, Matthew Harber and Jeffrey Horowitz, Division of Kinesiology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, looked at the effects of overeating, and exercise, observing how fat is stored in the muscle. Five obese women were asked to overeat, in two separate studies. Following one session of consuming an excess of 700 calories, the women did not exercise, and in the other, they overate and did…

Hot Flash Remedy Impedes Breast Cancer Treatment - Study

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Many women, during menopause take soy based supplements containing plant based phytoestrogens to help prevent hot flashes. According to new research, the dietary supplement, Genistein, a soy isoflavin, can have adverse effects on women undergoing treatment for breast cancer by promoting tumor growth. The new study appears in the journal Carcinogenesis.

Aromatase inhibitors are the mainstay of approximately two-thirds of breast cancer treatment, due to their ability to reduce estrogen levels in the body. According to lead researcher of the study, William Helferich, professor of food science and human nutrition “You have women who are taking these supplements to ameliorate post-menopausal symptoms and assuming that they are as safe as consuming a calcium pill or a B vitamin.” But quite the contrary is true – the researchers found that doses available in supplements can completely negate the effect of breast cancer therapy with Aromatase inhibitors.

Dr. Helferich warns, “These compounds …

Paracetamol use Increases Childhood Risk of Asthma

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According to a recent podcast from the Lancet, Paracetemol use in the first year of life is likely to induce asthma by age six to seven.

Researchers analyzed questionnaires from the first and third parts of the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (ISAAC) to qualify their findings - 226,248 children, aged 6 to 7 years from 87 centres in 34 countries participated in the study. The children were randomly sampled. After exclusions for low response rates, 205,487 children from 73 centres in 31 countries were used for the first analysis. Paracetamol use for fever during the first year of life included 194,555 children aged 6 to 7 years from 69 centres in 29 countries, and the multi-variate analysis included 105,041 children aged 6 to 7 years from 47 centres in 20 countries.

The authors were able to conclude that "use of paracetamol in the first year of life, and in later childhood, is associated with risk of asthma, hay fever, and eczema at age 6 to 7 years"…

Scientists Find Jasmine Flower Extract Fights Cancer

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After a decade of research, Professor Eliezer Flescher of The Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Tel Aviv University, has shown that a compound from the Jasmine flower may hold the key to safe and effective cancer treatment. The compound methyl jasmonate is a synthetic derived from the flower itself. Professor Flescher has now developed a drug from the flower that compound showing promise for its effect on blood cancers and solid tumors.

Dr Flesher says, “Acetylsalicylic acid (aspirin) is based on a plant stress hormone. I asked myself, 'Could there be other plant stress hormones that have clinical efficacy?' While various studies have suggested that aspirin can prevent cancer, especially colon cancer, I realized that there could be a chance to find a potent plant hormone that could fight cancer even better. I pinpointed jasmonate.” He is hopeful that a jasmonate anti-cancer drug can be on the shelves of pharmacies in the US within the next four years. He explains - “Proven to be n…

Experts say Development of New Antibiotics Urgently Needed

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Infectious diseases, such as MRSA, bacterial pneumonia, and Tuberculosis have been treated successfully with antibiotics for eight decades – we have been able to manage most infections with antibacterial drugs - at least until now. According to experts, we are now facing a dilemma in healthcare as the result of antibiotic resistance, and the development of new antibiotics are urgently needed.

The increasing incidence of drug resistant infections has caused much public concern, especially as it relates to MRSA. The problem of antibiotic resistance needs to be tackled urgently, say Otto Cars (Department of Medical Sciences, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden), and colleagues. They are calling for a “concerted global response… to tackle rising rates of antibiotic resistance.”

Europe’s most important disease threat is from bacteria that have become resistant to antibiotics, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, in their first epidemiological report on comm…

Researchers One Step Closer to Understanding High Blood Pressure

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University of Missouri researchers, using atomic force microscopy, have uncovered how specific proteins affect relaxation and contraction of blood vessels. According to Gerald Meininger, professor and director of MU’s Dalton Cardiovascular Research Center, “We have identified an important receptor that is responsible for the ability of small arteries in the body. This research provides new clues for the cause of vascular diseases, such as high blood pressure and diabetes and may be used in the future as a possible therapeutic target.”

The scientists took blood cells from the body and used a high resolution microscope to apply force to individual proteins. They then observed which proteins were responsible for reactions in the blood cells. Depending on which proteins were targeted, the blood cells either relaxed or constricted, allowing the researchers to pinpoint exactly which proteins may be responsible for high blood pressure.

Preventing vascular disease is the target of much res…

Pistachios Lovers may Have Healthier Hearts

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According to research from Sarah K. Gebauer (Pennsylvania State University in University Park) and colleagues, we can now add pistachios to the list of heart healthy snacks – and in this instance, more is better. Results of a small, randomized study reported in the September issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, compared cholesterol effects of adding pistachios to a diet rich in lean meats, fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

Twenty-eight people were split into three groups after eating a regular Western diet for two weeks. Baseline cholesterol measurements were then obtained. Next, the study groups were all give lower fat diets. The first group was given one serving of pistachios daily, group two had two servings, and group three continued their healthy diet without pistachio nuts. Ten men and eighteen women were enrolled in the study. Pistachios were delivered as snacks or incorporated into recipes. Immediately following a four week trial comparing the diets, choles…

HIV Type Blood Test Detects Lung Cancer Before Symptoms Occur

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According to the September 15, 2008, online Journal of Clinical Oncology, researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center and University of Michigan, have found that lung cancer produces antibodies much like HIV. Samir M. Hanash, M.D., Ph.D., and colleagues discovered that lung cancer, like HIV, signals the body by producing antibodies, before a patient develops symptoms– as early as a year sooner than most episodes of lung cancer are even found. Dr. Hanash, head of the Molecular Diagnostic Program in the Public Health Sciences Division at the Hutchinson Center, says, “It is an important step toward developing a biomarker-based blood test for the early detection of lung cancer."

Two previously identified antigens, to which the body produces antibodies, known as annexin1 and 14-3-3 theta; as well as a newly identified lung-cancer antigen called LAMR1 were targeted to test the researcher’s theory. The group analyzed blood from 85 current or past smokers, collected within a year…

New Pain Drugs Activate Cannabinoid Receptors while Bypassing the Brain

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Researchers have discovered the presence of cannabinoid receptors (CB2 receptors) in human sensory nerves. The findings may lead to a new class of pain medications that target the peripheral nerve system, while bypassing the deleterious effects of cannabis-like drugs on the brain. The study is published in the September 15 journal Pain, led by researchers from Imperial College London.

Past studies on pain treatment have focused on CB1 receptors, activated by cannabis. CB1 receptors are found in the brain. Though effective, the side effects associated with current pain treatment include drowsiness, dependence and, according to some studies, psychosis. CB1 receptors are also the target of other opiates, such as morphine, and those side effects range from nausea, vomiting, drowsiness, dependency, impaired bowel function, decreased appetite and even depression.

According to Praveen Anand, Professor of Clinical Neurology and Principal Investigator of the study from the Division of Neuroscie…

Strict Mediterranean Diet Aids in Primary Disease Prevention

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Certain components of a traditional Mediterranean diet have been found to be healthy, aiding in the prevention of cancer and heart disease. According to a study published in BMJ, researchers have determined that strict adherence to a Mediterranean diet plays a valuable role in primary and secondary disease prevention. “Single nutrients ignore important interactions between components of a diet… people do not eat isolated nutrients”, according to the authors. This is not the first time we’ve heard about the importance of food synergy.

According to the study, …”despite… promotion of the Mediterranean diet, a progressive shift to a non-Mediterranean dietary pattern, even in countries bordering the Mediterranean sea, has progressively developed. It thus seems urgent to identify an effective preventive strategy to decrease the risk burden related to dietary habits in the general population; the use of such a tool could be important in increasing the implementation of dietary guidelines.”

Heart Patients at Risk Even With “Acceptable” Levels of Air Pollution

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According to the results of a study published in the journal Circulation, heart patients may be at increased risk for complications from currently acceptable levels of air pollution, especially one month after hospital discharge.

According to senior investigator, Dr. Diane Gold, from Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, Ma, “We’re focusing on patients right after they’ve been in the hospital for myocardial infarction and acute coronary syndrome. They’ve received state-of-the-art care, and we’re finding subclinical effects of air pollution, with effects being strong in the first month or so after discharge. It adds to the evidence that traffic and non-traffic air pollution increases cardiac risk.

Past studies have shown that air pollution can trigger heart attacks (MI) from the direct effect of toxins on the heart. The risk is worse a day or two after exposure to high levels of air pollution. Now researchers are also interested in seeing if air pollution affects cardiac patients a mont…

Study Shows More Women with Breast Cancer and Lumpectomy Should Receive Radiation Therapy

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Cancer expert Eric Winer, MD, says he’s worried about a new study that reveals radiation treatment rates following lumpectomy for breast cancer are low across the United States. Dr. Winer, from the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, in Boston, Massachusetts, expressed his concerns to the Press before the 2008 Breast Cancer Symposium in Washington, DC, sponsored by the American Society of Clinical Oncology and several other cancer and breast disease societies.

Dr. Winer says, “I am shocked to see such low rates for radiation. This is a really important finding. “It shows that there are many women still falling through the cracks. What is happening to the 20% of women who do not have radiation? Where are they disappearing to? We must find them." Dr. Winer points out that only 74% of white women and 65% of black women received radiation after lumpectomy, saying radiation treatment… “should be a standard of care in all but the oldest and sickest women." Breast cancer survival rates…

Survey - Non-Medical Use of Pain Pills on the Rise in Baby Boomers

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In 2007, a survey conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), found that 4.1% of baby boomers misuse prescription medications. This year’s survey suggests that figure is on the rise.

Younger people fared better on the survey which showed prescription drug abuse rates are lower, as well as tobacco, alcohol and illicit drug use, such as cocaine, marijuana, LSD, ecstasy, methamphetamine, and hallucinogens. Cocaine use dropped by 23% in 18 to 25 year olds. The survey included 67,500 people across the United States. People who experienced a major depressive episode were twice as likely in 2007 to have illicitly used drugs.

SAMHSA administrator Terry Cline, PhD says, "The abuse of prescription drugs for nonmedical reasons is of increasing concern. "These are potent drugs that can have serious and life-threatening consequences if misused. Parents in particular need to be aware of this problem and take steps to prevent these medications from fa…

FDA Looking at 20 Drugs for New Adverse Events

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The FDA is “evaluating” 20 drugs that have been associated with various adverse events – all of the drugs are currently on the market. The events occurred between Jan. 1 and March 31, 2008, but the FDA says it will be "weeks or months" before they have any new reports on the medications.

Though the drugs are suspect, the FDA cautions that just because it might be on the list, it doesn’t mean you should stop taking it, or that the medication will even cause problems. One of the medications being watched is Nitroglycerin, used for heart patients for the treatment of angina. The “Potential Signal of Serious Risk/New Safety Information” associated with Nitroglycerin is “overdose due to labeling confusion”. Humulin U 500 (Humulin R) Insulin carries the potential of “dosing confusion”.

Gerald Dal Pan, MD, MPH, director of the FDA office of surveillance and epidemiology says, "If a drug is listed, it means we have begun an analysis to see if there is a safety problem that requir…

Researchers Link High Serum Calcium Levels to Fatal Prostate Cancer

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Higher serum calcium levels in men may promote the development of fatal prostate cancer, according to a new study. Serum calcium levels are associated with higher levels of parathyroid hormone (PTH). Lead researcher Gary G. Schwartz, PhD, associate professor of cancer biology and epidemiology and prevention at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, believes that high levels of PTH and serum calcium levels might stimulate the growth of prostate cancer cells. According to Dr. Schwartz, "This may be a risk factor that — for the first time — we can do something about.”

The researchers looked at 2814 men who were part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES-1 study. Serum calcium levels were measured 9.9 years before the development of prostate cancer, finding that the men had calcium levels in the "high end of the normal range." According to the report, the results showed an almost three-fold risk of prostat…

No Link Found Between Autism and Measles, Mumps Rubella Vaccine

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There has been much public concern regarding MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine since 1998, when measles virus was found in bowel tissue of children with autism. According to the results of over 20 epidemiologic studies, there is no link between the vaccine and autism.

Scientists at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health's Center for Infection and Immunity, and researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Massachusetts General Hospital, and Trinity College Dublin, examined bowel tissue from 25 children with autism spectrum disorder, and gastrointestinal (GI) disorders. Thirteen children with GI disorders only were included. The researchers performed biopsies to identify the presence of measles virus (MV) RNA. Three separate laboratories were used to analyze the tissue, including the lab that originally reported the link between measles vaccine and autism. The results found the presence of measles virus RNA in one boy with autism, and one without…

Researchers Link BPA to Substantial Risk of Metabolic Syndrome in Humans

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New research from the University of Cincinnati finds that BPA is a risk factor for metabolic syndrome, with “average exposure” to the chemical, found in polycarbonate plastics. The report is published online, August 14 in the Journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

Metabolic syndrome, a cluster of problems that leads to heart disease, stroke and diabetes, affects 25% of Americans, according to the American Heart Association. The primary components of metabolic syndrome include high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, abdominal obesity, and insulin resistance or glucose intolerance.

Past research has focused on the health risks of high exposure levels to Bisphenol A (BPA). A multitude of studies have also been performed on mice. Nira Ben-Jonathan, PhD, and colleagues are the first team to study the effects of average exposure BPA on human tissue. The group found that BPA inhibits adiponectin, an important hormone that regulates insulin sensitivity, placing humans at substantial …

Gastric Bypass Surgery may Benefit Diabetics without Obesity

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Studies have shown that gastric bypass surgery controls diabetes quickly, when compared to lap band surgery for weight loss. Until now, scientists weren’t exactly certain why gastric bypass affected diabetes more positively than lap band surgery. A new study suggests that changes in the intestines are responsible for better control of diabetes symptoms following the surgery.

The report, published in Cell Magazine, explains the identification of a new pathway for glucose production in the intestine. According to Gilles Mithieux (Institut National de la Sante et de la Recherche Medicale in France), gastric bypass surgery produces a “double intestine” after a portion of the stomach is removed. The surgery involves removing two-thirds of the stomach and upper intestine. When the lower part of the intestine is then attached to the stomach, it takes on characteristics of the absent upper portion of the intestine. Dr. Mithieux explains, "Up to now, the intestine had been considered like…

Tumor Inhibitor Shows “Great Potential” for Endometrial Cancer Treatment

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In an announcement from Researchers at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) today (9/1/2008), scientists say they have found a drug that kills cancer cells and “turns off” the growth of cancerous endometrial tumors in a significant number of patients. The news follows last year's discovery by the same group of scientists, who identified the gene variant commonly associated with endometrial cancer.

In collaboration with Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, the researcher group also discovered the drug is effective in the presence of PTEN; a gene that normally acts as a tumor suppressor, but when altered, is associated with endometrial cancer.

Associate team investigator and lead study author, Dr. Pamela Pollock, in TGen’s Cancer and Cell Biology Division announced in May 2007 that she and her team had discovered alterations in the FGFR2 gene in nearly 15% of women with endometrial cancer. Dr. Pollock says, of the new study, "These findings could…

Study Shows Omega3 Supplements More Beneficial for Heart Failure than Statins

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According to two new studies from Munich, Germany, long term use of Omega 3 fatty acids reduced the risk of death and incidence of hospitalization for heart related illness in heart failure patients. Crestor, a popular cholesterol medication (statin), showed no beneficial effect on the patients studied.

The Gruppo Italiano per lo Studio della Sopravvivenza nell'Infarto Miocardico Heart Failure (GISSI-HF) trial, published online in the Lancet, was presented August 31 at the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) Congress 2008, revealing a 9% reduction in deaths, from all causes with Omega 3 fatty acids, an 8% reduction in hospitalization. Two separate studies were used to determine the results. Study investigators write, "Although this moderate benefit was smaller than was expected, we should note that it was obtained in a population already treated with recommended therapies, was consistent across all the predefined subgroups, and was further supported by the findings of the per…