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Showing posts from October, 2008

Study - Minorities Slighted when it Comes to Depression Treatment

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According to the results of a large study, published n the November issue of Psychiatric Services, minorities with depression have limited access to treatment. Those who seek treatment receive inadequate care. The findings reveal that even when variables such as poverty, insurance coverage, and education were taken into account, ethnicity and race still impacted treatment. The authors say, "The findings paint a stark, recent picture of care for depression among racial- and ethnic-minority populations in the United States and clearly point to areas in need of further sustained attention."

Looking at a period of twelve months, Harvard Medical School investigators discovered that 63.7% of Latinos, 68.7% of Asians, and 58.8% of African Americans did not access any mental health treatment, compared with 40.2% of non-Latino whites. Patients who sought treatment included 12% of African Americans, 13% of Asians, and 22% of Latinos compared with 33% of whites, but their needs were not…

There’s Something about Grapes

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A study from the University of Michigan Cardiovascular Center suggests that grapes may be even more powerful than thought for maintaining a healthier heart. According to the study, published in the October issue of the Journal of Gerontology: Biological Sciences, a blend of red, green and black grape powder mediated blood pressure, reduced inflammation and improved heart function in lab rats prone to hypertension that were fed a salty diet. "These findings support our theory that something within the grapes themselves has a direct impact on cardiovascular risk, beyond the simple blood pressure-lowering impact that we already know can come from a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, " says Mitchell Seymour, M.S., who led the research.

High blood pressure affects millions of Americans and can lead to congestive heart failure. Though the scientists aren't exactly certain which compounds in the grapes are responsible for the health boost seen in the study, they suspect it’s t…

Co-Enzyme Q Shown to Extend Lives of Heart Failure Patients

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Heart failure patients may have had a difficult time convincing their physicians of the benefits, but a newer study again supports Co-enzyme Q for increasing life span of patients suffering from congestive heart failure - a condition caused by congenital defects, heart attack, enlarged heart (cardiomyopathy) high blood pressure and heart rhythm problems. Congestive heart failure means the heart can’t pump sufficient amounts of blood to all the organs, leading to fluid accumulation. Symptoms include swelling, weight gain and difficulty breathing - symptoms that decrease quality of life and shorten lifespan.

There is no cure for congestive heart failure. Management includes the use of medications and lifestyle interventions including exercise, stress reduction, treatment of depression, weight loss, and low salt, heart healthy diet. Co-enzyme Q, according to recent findings, provides energy to the heart cells, helping it pump more efficiently and with less effort.

Studies conducted in New …

Antibiotic Use Linked to Emergency Room Visits

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According to the results of a study reported in the September 15 issue of Clinical Infectious Diseases, allergic reactions to antibiotics account for many visits to the Emergency Room. Nadine Shehab, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia, and colleagues, write "Drug-related adverse events are an underappreciated consequence of antibiotic use, and the national magnitude and scope of these events have not been studied."

The combination of untoward events associated with antibiotics; in addition to the ever-increasing incidence of antibiotic resistant diseases, makes judicious use of antibiotics a focus for healthcare providers.

Adverse events associated with sulfonamides and clindamycin landed patients in the emergency room most frequently, according to the research results. Penicillin and cephalosporins accounted for the highest incidence of allergic reactions. Sulfa drugs and fluoroquinalones (Cipro, Floxin, Tequin and Levaquin to name …

Patient Safety from Radiation Studies under Investigation

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Diagnosis of illnesses, using a variety of radioactive scans, may pose dangers to patients. The amount of radiation exposure delivered during PET, CAT scans and MRI’s may pose unknown dangers, prompting investigation of the current guidelines.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has convened in Buenos Aires to determine how risky imaging tests are to patients. According to IAEA's Madan Rehani, a Radiation Safety Specialist, "There has been concern that new technologies are not providing the amount of patient protection that medical professionals had expected. This comes from continued radiation accidents in radiotherapy facilities, and continued reports of unnecessary radiation doses to patients in those diagnostic examinations." Attending the conference in Argentina (Oct 18-19), were radiation protection experts, as well as the manufacturers of diagnostic machines.

One of the goals of the project is to produce a means to record a patient’s lifetime exposure to…

Man’s Best Friend Donates Genes to Help Humans

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Scientists have found a new job for dogs. Mans best friend is about to take on a new task by donating gene samples to help find out what causes disease in humans. “Dogs get very similar diseases to humans. If you ask a dog owner what sort of conditions their pets get, they will say cancer, allergies, eye diseases”, says Kerstin Lindblad-Toh of Uppsala University in Sweden and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, Cambridge, Massachusetts. The research plans were presented at the European Science Foundation’s 3rd Functional Genomics Conference, held in Innsbruck, Austria, on 1-4 October.

The role of genes in the development of disease has gained much focus. The way our genes interact with proteins can predict our risk for developing challenging health problems, such as cancer. Though complex, scientists are beginning to unravel the genetic mystery that surrounds an individual’s susceptibility to specific illnesses.

At the same conference, Dr. Patrik Kolar, head of the unit for genomi…

Saliva Found to Have Genuine Wound Healing Properties

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Scientists have found that histatin, a substance found in human saliva, has great potential for speeding wound healing. What’s more, it can be mass produced, and is inexpensive.

Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal Gerald Weismann, MD says, “This study not only answers the biological question of why animals lick their wounds, but it also explains why wounds in the mouth, like those of a tooth extraction, heal much faster than comparable wounds of the skin and bone. It also directs us to begin looking at saliva as a source for new drugs.”

Chronic wounds can be complex to treat. The result is expensive medications, creams, and burdensome wound care devices that still take much time to promote healing, especially for diabetics, elders, burn victims, and immunosuppressed individuals. In the meantime, quality of life declines, and complications develop from inactivity, pain and financial woes. First author of the report, Menno Oudhoff, says he hopes the findings can benefit “people…

Women - Think Twice Before Powdering Your Bottom

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According to the September issue of Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention, women need to think about using talcum powder. Talc, applied to the genital area, may significantly increase a woman’s risk of ovarian cancer. It may be even more risky if you have a family history of cancer.

Sixteen previous studies have found an association between genital talcum use and ovarian cancer. The current study is the first to analyze the association between genetic predisposition, and how a woman’s body responds to talc. The new study also found that the more you use, the greater the risk.

Study author, Margaret Gates, ScD, research fellow at Brigham and Women's Hospital, in Boston, Massachusetts believes “that women should be advised not to use talcum powder in the genital area, based on our results and previous evidence supporting an association between genital talc use and ovarian cancer risk.” However, if you simply must, she suggests using cornstarch, which has not been shown to have…

Data Shows Sale of Targeted Cancer Drugs Totaled $17.3 billion in 2007

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Cancer drugs are selling like hotcakes. According to recent data, sales will continue to increase. The drugs are highly effective, but the cost makes them unacceptable to healthcare systems. Cancer drugs that have been bringing huge profits to pharmaceutical companies may limit patient treatment options.

According to a new Datamonitor report, eight cancer drugs are predicted to become “blockbuster” sellers in the next few years, with sales reaching $42 billion or more by the year 2017. The sale of targeted cancer drugs totaled $17.3 billion in 2007, compared to $10.2 million for conventional chemotherapy.”

The UK’s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has recommended against using several cancer drugs because they’re not cost effective. Other healthcare systems are likely to follow. The huge profits to pharmaceutical companies will end, but more importantly, cancer patients may suffer. Four popular agents have been shunned by NICE, used for the treatment of kidne…

Hand-Washing Better than Vitamin C for Cold Prevention

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According to the German Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG), simple hand-washing can do more than Vitamin C or dietary supplements for cold prevention. In fact, high doses of vitamin C can be harmful, yet many people continue to insist otherwise.

Professor Peter Sawicki, director of IQWiG reminds us, “Not only is there no proof that some antioxidants prolong life, but there is some evidence that certain products may even lead to earlier death" - a fact we should all keep in mind as cold and flu season approaches.

Advances in research regarding the benefits of Vitamin C for cold prevention, and anti-oxidant supplements for longevity or thwarting cancer, have yielded opposing results from the earliest studies. Yet, many people continue to embrace the notion that better health comes from taking a vitamin or supplement. Professor Sawicki says, "It can be very difficult to accept that these beliefs are myths, but they are not true if further research does…

CDC Finds Mental Distress on the Rise in US

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According to a poll conducted by the CDC between 2003 and 2006, Americans reported increased feelings of stress, depression, or emotional problems for 14 or more days out of 30–an indication of clinical depression and anxiety disorder. The responses were compared to a previous poll from 12.2 million adults, surveyed from 1993 to 2001, finding an increase from 9% to10%. Lead study author Daniel P. Chapman, PhD says, "Frequent mental distress [provides] a general barometer of the 'psychiatric state' of the nation," in an interview with Medscape Psychiatry.

The Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, conducted by the CDC, has been ongoing since 1984. The survey includes one question regarding mental health, targeting adults from all states. Focus from the CDC regarding geographical regions that report higher incidence of frequent mental distress, might provide insight into socioeconomic factors that provoke anxiety and depression. The CDC designed the study to look a…

Scientists Target DNA to Deliver Effective Avian Flu Vaccine

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Avian flu isn’t in the news as much lately, but it remains a focus of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. David D. Ho, scientific director of the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center, and Rockefeller’s Irene Diamond Professor, along with his colleagues at Taiwan’s Academia Sinica, has developed a DNA based vaccine that shows promise for halting most variations of H5N1 flu. The scientists, rather than using dead virus, have built a vaccine that stimulates immunity against Avian flu in mice. The vaccine is easy to produce and modifications can be delivered quickly to halt an epidemic.

Because H5N1virus mutates quickly, the research team developed a sequence that included all of the conserved parts of the outer protein found in the genes of the virus. They then used electroporation, a process that is just beginning to take hold because it increases the uptake of vaccines in the body. The process involves delivering a high-voltage electrical impulse to put small holes in cell mem…

Targeted Books for Children can Help Tackle Obesity

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Sarah Armstrong, MD, director of Duke's Healthy Lifestyles Program says giving your child the right kind of novel to read can help fight obesity. Sixteen percent of children, age 6 to 19, are overweight or obese – a state of affairs that led Duke researchers to look for better options to tackle childhood obesity.

The group studied obese girls, age nine to thirteen who were already engaged in a comprehensive weight loss program. They were given an age-appropriate book to read, written to include a strong role model, positive messages, healthy lifestyle and weight management direction. The novel was targeted by pediatric experts, and is titled Lake Rescue. The book is part of the Beacon Street Girls series. Lake Rescue becomes an outdoor challenge for an overweight seventh grader.

After six months, the researchers found that the girls who read the novel had a significant reduction in body mass index (BMI) when compared to the girls who didn’t read the novel. Dr. Armstrong says, &…

Will India’s Smoking Ban Work?

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India has imposed a nationwide smoking ban, but how well will it work? The ban, launched in commemoration of Gandhi’s birthday came into effect October 2. The fine for smoking in public is stiff – at first, it’s a warning, and then a fine of five American dollars, or 200 rupees – more than most people earn in a day. It’s not the first time a smoking ban has been initiated in India, but such laws are often publicly ignored.

The New England Journal of Medicine, earlier this year, published a paper warning that deaths from smoking in India could reach a million by 2010. Lead author Dr Prabhat Jha, at that time, speculated that bans on smoking “might save several hundreds of thousands of lives if well implemented and enforced."

The impetus is directed at protecting those who don’t smoke. However, the plan could be misguided. Dr Sajeela Maini, (president of the Tobacco Control Foundation of India) told the BBC, "The ban on smoking in public places is a good idea, but my biggest …

Dark Chocolate Found to Lower CRP Levels

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Dark chocolate has been found to reduce serum levels of CRP (C - reactive protein) - a protein found in the bloodstream, associated with heart disease, infection and chronic illnesses such as lymphoma, rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease. The findings come from Dr Romina di Giuseppe (Catholic University, Campobasso, Italy) and colleagues, and are reported in the October 2008 issue of the Journal of Nutrition.

The results are part of the Moli-sani Project – a large epidemiologic study aimed at individuals living in the Molise region of Italy. The research is aimed at discovering genetic and environmental causes of heart disease and cancer.

As part of the study, the scientists looked at 4849 healthy people without risk factors – 824 ate chocolate regularly and 1317 did not eat any chocolate. The researchers measured CRP levels using the group’s normal level of chocolate consumption. The results showed that CRP levels were lower in the individuals who consumed dark chocola…