February 4, 2009, 6:28 AM CT
Even natural perfumes may cause allergies
This is Ph.D. candidate Lina Hagvall from the University of Gothenburg.
Hypersensitivity to perfumes is the most common contact allergy in adults. Research at the University of Gothenburg has demonstrated that even natural aromatic oils, which a number of deem harmless in comparison to synthetic perfumes, may cause allergic reactions.
Roughly one in five adults in northern Europe is believed to suffer from contact allergy to one or more chemicals. The most common is nickel allergy, but a number of people also suffer from contact allergy to perfumes even perfume substances that at first glance appear to be harmless can cause allergic reactions. New eczema-provoking allergens are formed by reaction with acid in the ambient air (known as autoxidation) or with skin enzymes.
Modern society usually regards anything that comes from nature as being healthier and less dangerous. Where it concerns natural aromas, known as essential oils, a number of manufacturers think that natural antioxidants in these oils offer protection against autoxidation thus making them safer and longer lasting than artificial perfumes. Research at the University of Gothenburg shows this is not the case.
Lina Hagvall, a researcher at the University of Gothenburg's Department of Chemistry, has examined natural lavender oil in her thesis. Her results show that essential oils do not prevent the formation of allergenic substances through reactions with acid; something which had not previously been possible to confirm. Hagvall's thesis also examines geraniol, a common constituent of perfumes such as rose oil. The study shows geraniol by itself to be only slightly allergenic. However through autoxidation and reaction with skin enzymes, the substance is activated and becomes the closely related allergen geranial. This is the first time these activation pathways have been demonstrated for the substance.........
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February 4, 2009, 6:24 AM CT
Happy Employees Are Critical For Organization
One's happiness might seem like a personal subject, but a Kansas State University researcher says employers should be concerned about the well-being of their employees because it could be the underlying factor to success.
Thomas Wright, Jon Wefald Leadership Chair in Business Administration and professor of management at K-State, has observed that when employees have high levels of psychological well-being and job satisfaction, they perform better and are less likely to leave their job -- making happiness a valuable tool for maximizing organizational outcomes.
"The benefits of a psychologically well work force are quite consequential to employers, particularly so in our highly troubled economic environment," Wright said. "Simply put, psychologically well employees are better performers. Since higher employee performance is inextricably tied to an organization's bottom line, employee well-being can play a key role in establishing a competitive advantage".
Happiness is a broad and subjective word, but a person's well-being includes the presence of positive emotions, like joy and interest, and the absence of negative emotions, like apathy and sadness, Wright said.
An excessive negative focus in the workplace could be harmful, such as in performance evaluations where negatives like what an employee failed to do are the focus of concentration, he said. When properly implemented in the workplace environment, positive emotions can enhance employee perceptions of finding meaning in their work.........
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February 4, 2009, 6:08 AM CT
Radiofrequency Treatment for Liver Tumors
A new review of four randomized controlled trials that directly compared two different therapys for small inoperable liver tumors has observed that radiofrequency ablation (RFA) significantly improves patient survival in comparison to the standard treatment of percutaneous ethanol injection (PEI). These findings are in the recent issue of Hepatology, a journal published by John Wiley & Sons on behalf of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD). The article is also available online at Wiley Interscience (www.interscience.wiley.com).
AASLD guidelines recommend PEI as a safe and highly effective therapy for small hepatocellular carcinomas and say it is the standard against which new therapies should be compared. RFA is one of a handful of alternative nonsurgical therapys for small liver tumors. It has a higher rate of adverse events and is not always usable depending on the location of the tumor, however, some studies have suggested it offers a greater survival benefit in comparison to PEI.
To determine the benefit of RFA in comparison to PEI, scientists led by Yun Ku Cho of Seoul conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials that compared the two therapies. Using databases and manual searches, they identified all relevant, peer-evaluated studies published from 1978 through July 2008. Ultimately, only four studies, which included a total of 652 patients, contained enough information for a meta-analysis of three-year overall survival.........
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February 4, 2009, 6:01 AM CT
a Novel Gene is Causing Restless Legs Syndrome
In 2005, a woman who had trouble sleeping asked Siong-Chi Lin, M.D., for help. Dr. Lin, a sleep disorders specialist at the Mayo Clinic campus in Florida, diagnosed restless legs syndrome. This common neurologic disorder interrupts sleep because of unpleasant sensations in the legs at rest, particularly in the evening, that are temporarily relieved by movement.
Restless legs syndrome affects between 5 and 11 percent of the population in North America and Europe, says Dr. Lin. The cause appears to be many clinical factors, such as iron deficiency, but it has a strong genetic component as well. "In most people, it is likely due to many different causes, but genes are very likely the most important factor in affected families," he says.
Medications, particularly agents that increase transmission of dopamine in brain neurons, are effective in a number of people and worked for his new patient, says Dr. Lin. "The syndrome may appear as a nuisance for most people, however it can also seriously affect some people's quality of life," he says.
Dr. Lin's patient told him that a number of of her relatives also have the same trouble sleeping - difficulties she could trace back through her ancestry.
With the patient's approval, that information was relayed to "gene hunters" in Mayo Clinic's neurosciences department. These researchers have established an international reputation for their ability to find the genetic roots of rare, as well as common, neurological disorders. Dr. Lin accompanied researchers to Indiana, the hub of the extended family, which is thought to beof English descent, to interview dozens of individuals spanning multiple generations. They observed that 30 relatives were affected by restless legs syndrome, and discovered that almost three times as a number of females had the condition in comparison to males.........
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February 4, 2009, 5:59 AM CT
Disproving a 15-year-old Theory
A delay in traffic may cause a headache, but a delay in the nervous system can cause much more. University of Missouri scientists have uncovered clues identifying which proteins are involved in the development of the nervous system and observed that the proteins previously thought to play a significant role, in fact, do not. Understanding how the nervous system develops will give scientists a better understanding of neurological diseases, such as multiple sclerosis and Charcot-Marie-Tooth disorders.
"Speed is the key to the nervous system," said Michael Garcia, investigator in the Christopher S. Bond Life Sciences Center and assistant professor of biological sciences in the MU College of Arts and Science. "The peripheral nervous system 'talks' to muscles through nerve impulses in response to external stimuli. When babies are born, they do not have fully developed nervous systems, and their systems run slower. Eventually, the nervous system matures. Our study tried to understand that maturation process".
The process of nerve cells maturation is called myelination. During myelination, a layer of myelin (electrically insulating material) wraps or forms around the axons (part of the nerve cell that conducts electrical impulses). Nerve impulses travel faster in myelinated nerve cells.........
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February 4, 2009, 5:56 AM CT
Green tea blocks benefits of cancer drug
Contrary to popular assumptions about the health benefits of green tea, scientists at the University of Southern California (USC) have observed that the widely used supplement renders a cancer drug used to treat multiple myeloma and mantle cell lymphoma completely ineffective in treating cancer.
The study, which observed that a component of green tea extract (GTE) called EGCG destroys any anticancer activity of the drug Velcade in tumor-bearing mice, will be published in a future print edition of the journal, Blood
It is now available online at the journal's pre-publication First Edition website.
"Our finding that GTE or EGCG blocked the therapeutic action of Velcade was completely unexpected," says main author Axel H. Schnthal, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. "Our hypothesis was that GTE or EGCG would enhance the anti-tumor effects of Velcade, and that a combination of GTE with Velcade (or EGCG with Velcade) would turn out to be a superior cancer therapy as in comparison to therapy with Velcade alone."
Herbal remedies, including green tea, have become a popular remedy for cancer patients dealing with side effects of chemotherapy. However, these supplements are unregulated and, for most, their beneficial and/or detrimental effects have not been qualified through research.........
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February 4, 2009, 5:53 AM CT
How a deadly fungus evades the human immune system
This is a polysaccharide capsule of C. neoformans by Scanning Electron microscopy.
Credit: Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Scientists at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University have discovered how a deadly microbe evades the human immune system and causes disease.
The study, reported in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
), may help researchers develop new therapies or vaccines against infections caused by Cryptococcus neoformans
These fungal infections occur most usually in those with compromised immune systems ─ particularly AIDS patients and transplant patients who must take lifelong immunosuppressive treatment. The fungus causes an estimated one million deaths each year worldwide, including some 600,000 in sub-Saharan Africa. The main author of the study was Susana Frases-Carvajal, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow in microbiology & immunology at Einstein.C. neoformans
typically enters the body through the lungs and can spread throughout the body, including the brain. The resulting infection, called cryptococcosis, can cause chest pain, dry cough, abdominal swelling, headache, blurred vision, or confusion. The infection can be fatal, particularly if not treated with antifungal medications.
"It's a horrendous disease, and even with treatment, you often can't get rid of it," says the paper's senior author, Arturo Casadevall, M.D., Ph.D., professor and chair of microbiology & immunology.........
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February 4, 2009, 5:50 AM CT
Cost of methamphetamine abuse
The economic cost of methamphetamine use in the United States reached $23.4 billion in 2005, including the burden of addiction, premature death, drug therapy and a number of other aspects of the drug, as per a new RAND Corporation study.
The RAND study is the first effort to construct a comprehensive national assessment of the costs of the methamphetamine problem in the United States.
"Our findings show that the economic burden of methamphetamine abuse is substantial," said Nancy Nicosia, the study's main author and an economist at RAND, a nonprofit research organization.
Eventhough methamphetamine causes some unique harms, the study finds that a number of of the primary issues that account for the burden of methamphetamine use are similar to those identified in economic assessments of other illicit drugs.
Given the uncertainty in estimating the costs of methamphetamine use, scientists created a range of estimates. The lowest estimate for the cost of methamphetamine use in 2005 was $16.2 billion, while $48.3 billion was the highest estimate. Researchers' best estimate of the overall economic burden of methamphetamine use is $23.4 billion.
The study was sponsored by the Meth Project Foundation, a nonprofit group dedicated to reducing first-time methamphetamine use. Additional support was provided by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.........
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February 3, 2009, 6:26 AM CT
Maternal drinking and behavioral dysfunction in children
While a number of people are aware that drinking during pregnancy can lead to a range of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASDs), including the serious Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS), linkages between maternal-drinking measures and child outcomes have been inconsistent. Scientists have now designed a "metric" or combination of measures that appear better able than individual measures to predict prenatal neurobehavioral dysfunction and deficits in children.
Results would be reported in the recent issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research
and are currently available at Early View.
"The number of children being born with FAS remains unnecessarily high," said Lisa M. Chiodo, a researcher at Wayne State University and corresponding author for the study. "In part this is because it is difficult to identify patterns of drinking during pregnancy that put women's children at risk for FAS and other FASDs".
Chiodo said that eventhough there are several measures of maternal drinking during pregnancy, their ability to predict child outcomes especially cognitive and behavioral problems has been inconsistent. "We thought that combining a number of of the clinical and research measures of alcohol drinking into a single metric might help us find every child in our study who had been exposed to levels of alcohol that put them at risk," she said.........
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February 3, 2009, 6:23 AM CT
Inflammation colon cancer link
(New York, February 2, 2009) -- While chronic inflammation is widely thought to bea predisposing factor for colon cancer, the exact mechanisms linking these conditions have remained elusive. Researchers at the Melbourne Branch of the international Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research (LICR) and the Technical University Munich have jointly discovered a new piece of this puzzle by demonstrating how the Stat3 protein links inflammation to tumor development, a discovery that may well lead to the identification of new therapeutic targets for colon cancer.
Aberrant activation of the intracellular signaling protein, Stat3, has been linked to inflammation and several cancers, including those of the gastrointestinal tract. The results published on-line today in the journal Cancer Cell
provide the first direct evidence confirming the role for Stat3 in inflammation-associated tumorigenesis. Using an inflammation-associated cancer model in genetically manipulated mice, the team identified a relationship between epithelial cell Stat3 activity and colonic tumor incidence, as well as tumor growth. They also determined that stimulation of Stat3 by the cytokines IL-6 and IL-11, chemicals produced by inflammatory and other tumor-associated cells, promotes both cell survival and growth of tumor cells.........
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