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March 1, 2011, 10:23 PM CT

Don't Underestimate the Power of Herbal Teas

Don't Underestimate the Power of Herbal Teas
ARS-funded researchers are checking out science-based evidence of health benefits that could come from drinking three popular herbal teas-hibiscus, peppermint, and chamomile. Click the image for more information about it.
Those who enjoy the caffeinated lift that comes from drinking traditional coffees and teas may tend to overlook the benefits of drinking herbal infusions. Now, as explained in this month's issue of Agricultural Research magazine, the idea that herbal teas may provide a variety of health benefits is no longer just folklore.

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)-funded researchers in Boston, Mass., have looked into the science-based evidence of health benefits from drinking three of the most popular herbals in America. Diane McKay and Jeffrey Blumberg are at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University in Boston. Both work in the center's Antioxidants Research Laboratory, which Blumberg directs.

The Agricultural Research Service (ARS)-USDA's chief intramural scientific research agency-supports the HNRCA through an agreement. The work also was funded by Boulder, Colo.-based Celestial Seasonings, a brand of The Hain Celestial Group, Inc.

Chamomile tea has long been considered a brew that soothes. But when Blumberg and McKay evaluated scientific literature on the bioactivity of chamomile, they found no human clinical trials that examined this calming effect. They did, however, publish a review article on findings far beyond sedation, describing test-tube evidence that chamomile tea has moderate antimicrobial activity and significant antiplatelet-clumping activity.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


March 1, 2011, 10:14 PM CT

An overtired medical resident

An overtired medical resident
Recent Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) limits aimed to enhance patient safety may compromise the quality of doctors' training, as per a research studyby Mayo Clinic scientists reported in the recent issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings (http://www.mayoclinicproceedings.com).

Patient safety has long been a critical concern for hospitals, in particular for those training new doctors. Since 1984, when the death of 24-year-old Libby Zion at a New York hospital was attributed to an overtired medical resident, training programs have faced restrictions on the length of work shifts for the least-experienced medical doctors. Last year, the ACGME, which oversees residency programs, issued the most restrictive guidelines to date: Residents should serve no longer than 16-hour shifts in the hospital.

"Our results showed that the duty-hour limitations may not be a quick fix to an important problem," says Mayo Clinic internist and co-author Darcy Reed, M.D., M.P.H. (http://www.mayoclinic.org/bio/12376205.html).

The survey sent to directors of residency programs around the country observed that a number of are concerned that the duty-hour limitations to be implemented by July 2011 will impinge on doctor education. Of the nearly 500 respondents from the fields of surgery, internal medicine and pediatrics, 87 percent of program directors felt that the shortened shifts will interrupt the interactions between residents and hospitalized patients. "A number of survey respondents expressed concern that the limits will decrease the continuity of care. As residents face more handoff of responsibilities within a 24-hour period, they have less opportunity to see and learn how patients' care progresses," Dr. Reed says.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


March 1, 2011, 9:58 PM CT

Happiness increases lifespan

Happiness increases lifespan
A review of more than 160 studies of human and animal subjects has found "clear and compelling evidence" that - all else being equal - happy people tend to live longer and experience better health than their unhappy peers.

The study, in the journal Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being, is the most comprehensive review so far of the evidence linking happiness to health outcomes. Its main author, University of Illinois professor emeritus of psychology Ed Diener, who also is a senior scientist for the Gallup Organization, of Princeton, N.J., analyzed long-term studies of human subjects, experimental human and animal trials, and studies that evaluate the health status of people stressed by natural events.

"We evaluated eight different types of studies," Diener said. "And the general conclusion from each type of study is that your subjective well-being - that is, feeling positive about your life, not stressed out, not depressed - contributes to both longevity and better health among healthy populations".

A study that followed nearly 5,000 university students for more than 40 years, for example, observed that those who were most pessimistic as students tended to die younger than their peers. An even longer-term study that followed 180 Catholic nuns from early adulthood to old age observed that those who wrote positive autobiographies in their early 20s tended to outlive those who wrote more negative accounts of their young lives.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


March 1, 2011, 9:52 PM CT

Abstaining Without Thinking About It

Abstaining Without Thinking About It
Alcoholism is a tough addiction to kick. Eventually, most people return to drinking. But some Dutch and German psychological researchers have tested a short-term regime that promises to help alcoholics stay sober. Their study is published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association of Psychological Science.

Heavy drinkers tend to behave impulsively in response to temptation. Meanwhile, their "reflective," or controlled, responses-the thoughts that would help them resist drinking-are often weak. Most therapies, including Cognitive Behavior Therapy, primarily address the reflective responses. "They deal with the reasons and strategies" for sobriety, said University of Amsterdam experimental psychology expert Reinout W. Wiers, the study's main author. To boost therapy success, his team developed cognitive-bias modification, or CBM, which, for the first time, "tries to turn around those impulsive responses".

This newly developed CBM variety employs video-game-like "approach-avoidance tasks": pushing or pulling a joystick in response to images on a screen. Pulling zooms in on the image, as if the participant were "approaching" it. Pushing zooms out, in "avoidance." The team's earlier studies observed that heavier drinkers, shown images of alcoholic beverages or soft drinks, are faster to "pull" the alcohol than lighter drinkers-but CBM can turn this "approach bias" into an "avoidance bias".........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


March 1, 2011, 9:28 PM CT

HIV vaccine impacts the genetic makeup of the virus

HIV vaccine impacts the genetic makeup of the virus
Dr. James I. Mullins, professor of microbiology at the University of Washington in Seattle, led a study of the selective pressure of an HIV-1 vaccine on the virus.

Credit: University of Washington

An AIDS vaccine tested in people, but found to be ineffective, influenced the genetic makeup of the virus that slipped past. The findings suggest new ideas for developing HIV vaccines.

The results were published Feb. 27 in Nature Medicine

This is the first evidence that vaccine-induced cellular immune responses against HIV-1 infection exert selective pressure on the virus. "Selective pressure" refers to environmental demands that favor certain genetic traits over others.

The senior author of the multi-institutional study is Dr. James I. Mullins, University of Washington (UW) professor of microbiology. The research team analyzed the genome sequences in HIV-1 isolated from 68 newly infected volunteers in the STEP HIV-1 vaccine trial. Mullins and the other principal scientists who carried out this study were not involved in the STEP trial.

The STEP trial was a double-blind, Phase 2B test-of-concept of a Merck HIV-1 subtype B vaccine. The vaccine, MRKAd5, was designed to make the body produce infection-fighting white blood cells, usually called killer T-cells, that could recognize and target specific parts of HIV-1 known as Gag, Pol and Nef.

The STEP trial was conducted at 34 North American, Caribbean, South American and Australian locations where the HIV-1 subtype B was the predominant virus in the local HIV-infected populations. The trial enrolled 3,000 participants.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


March 1, 2011, 9:25 PM CT

Tanning bed exposure can be deadly

Tanning bed exposure can be deadly
Tanning bed exposure can produce more than some tanners may bargain for, particularly when they self-diagnose and use the radiation to treat skin eruptions, as per research conducted by the Indiana University School of Medicine Department of Dermatology.

"There are a number of reasons to be cautious of tanning bed radiation but some people use tanning beds to 'self-treat' skin eruptions," said Jeffrey B. Travers, M.D., Ph.D., senior author of a study published online in the Archives of Dermatology "If the skin eruption is eczema or even psoriasis, a tanning bed might help. However, if the eruption is caused by a drug reaction then it can be dangerous".

Dr. Travers, who is a professor of dermatology and of pharmacology and toxicology at the IU School of Medicine, said caution should be exercised when a person has an undiagnosed skin condition.

The study reported a patient who went to a tanning bed to self-treat a mild skin rash caused by an allergy to ibuprofen. Following the tanning bed exposure, the skin subjected to the UV light developed toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN) with severe blistering. Her blood pressure dropped significantly and her rash spread. TEN can be a life-threatening skin disorder that can attack the skin and other tissues causing hemorrhaging, respiratory failure, vision abnormalities and digestive track complications.........

Posted by: George      Read more         Source


February 24, 2011, 7:58 AM CT

Steroids to treat asthma: How safe are they?

Steroids to treat asthma: How safe are they?
Children experiencing an asthma attack who are treated with a short burst of oral steroids may have a transient depression of immune response as per a newly released study led by Universit� de Montr�al. These findings, published in this month's issue of Pediatric Allergy, Immunology and Pulmonology, have implications for asthmatic children who have flare-ups and who appears to be exposed to new contagious diseases.

"There is no question that the administration of corticosteroids reduces the risk and duration of hospital admission in children with acute asthma remain the most effective therapy for moderate and severe asthma exacerbations," says first author Francine M. Ducharme, a Universit� de Montr�al professor and paediatrician and researcher at the Sainte-Justine University Hospital Research Center. "However, the safety profile of these medications continues to raise concerns among parents and physicians. New concerns over their possible impact on the immune system stem from rare reports linking or severe chickenpox infections linked with corticosteroid administration".



Reduced immune response to new triggers


Ducharme and his colleagues reviewed the immune response of children aged 3 to 17 years, who had arrived at the emergency department (ED) with an asthma attack. All subjects were given immune triggers (known as antigens) and the immune response between those who received corticosteroids versus those who did not were compared.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


February 24, 2011, 7:54 AM CT

Cell pathway key to insulin resistance in Type 2 diabetes

Cell pathway key to insulin resistance in Type 2 diabetes
A research team, led by La Jolla Institute scientist Joel Linden, Ph.D., has shed new light on the problem of insulin resistance, and identified the key participants in a molecular pathway that holds therapeutic promise for reducing the severity of type 2 diabetes.

The scientists looked at the role of adenosine, an immune system signaling molecule, in triggering inflammation, which significantly contributes to insulin resistance. Insulin resistance keeps the body from properly handling sugar and is one of the key factors underlying type 2 diabetes. Diabetes now affects nearly 26 million Americans and is the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S., as per the Centers for Disease Control.

"Several prior studies have shown that if you block adenosine signaling, insulin resistance is diminished," said Dr. Linden. "However, it wasn't known exactly how the process worked or which cells were directly involved".

Dr. Linden's team identified the primary cellular players in the adenosine-fueled inflammation cascade that contributes to insulin resistance. Their study, in animal models, also tested the effectiveness of a recently synthesized adenosine receptor blocker. "We observed that if you use this molecule to selectively block one of the adenosine receptors, insulin resistance is decreased and diabetes gets better," said Dr. Linden, one of the world's leading authorities on adenosine.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


February 22, 2011, 7:35 AM CT

How many mammograms radiologists must read?

How many mammograms radiologists must read?
Radiologists who interpret more mammograms and spend some time reading diagnostic mammograms do better at determining which suspicious breast lesions are cancer, as per a new report published online on February 22 and in print in the recent issue of Radiology

In direct response to a report from the Institute of Medicine that called for more research on the relationship between interpretive volume and performance in screening mammography, the multi-site team undertook the largest and most comprehensive study of U.S. radiologists. The Institute of Medicine is the health arm of the National Academies, advisors to the nation on science, engineering, and medicine.

Funded largely through a unique collaboration between the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute, the study examined information from 120 radiologists who interpreted 783,965 screening mammograms at six mammography registries in the Breast Cancer Surveillance Consortium (BCSC) over five years. The scientists looked at how screening outcomes were correlation to four different measures of each radiologist's annual volume: the number of screening and diagnostic mammograms�separately and in combination�and the percentage of total mammograms that were for screening rather than diagnosis.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


February 22, 2011, 7:33 AM CT

Using EEGs to diagnose autism

Using EEGs to diagnose autism
A computational physicist and a cognitive neuroscientist at Children's Hospital Boston have come up with the beginnings of a noninvasive test to evaluate an infant's autism risk. It combines the standard electroencephalogram (EEG), which records electrical activity in the brain, with machine-learning algorithms. In a pilot study, their system had 80 percent accuracy in distinguishing between 9-month-old infants known to be at high risk for autism from controls of the same age.

Eventhough this work, published February 22 in the online open-access journal BMC Medicine, requires validation and refinement, it suggests a safe, practical way of identifying infants at high risk for developing autism by capturing very early differences in brain organization and function. This would allow parents to begin behavioral interventions one to two years before autism can be diagnosed through traditional behavioral testing.

"Electrical activity produced by the brain has a lot more information than we realized," says William Bosl, PhD, a neuroinformatics researcher in the Children's Hospital Informatics Program. "Computer algorithms can pick out patterns in those squiggly lines that the eye can't see".

Bosl, Charles A. Nelson, PhD, Research Director of the Developmental Medicine Center at Children's, and his colleagues recorded resting EEG signals from 79 babies 6 to 24 months of age participating in a larger study aimed at finding very early risk markers of autism. Forty-six infants had an older sibling with a confirmed diagnosis of an autism spectrum disorder (ASD); the other 33 had no family history of ASDs.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source



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Did you know?
Studies in monkeys and women suggest that unlike traditional estrogen therapy, a diet high in the natural plant estrogens found in soy does not increase the risk of uterine cancer in postmenopausal women, according to Mark Cline, D.V.M., Ph.D., an associate professor of comparative medicine at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center.

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