June 29, 2010, 7:21 AM CT
Lower back pain and surgery
A literature review, led by Dr. Joseph Lee, reported in the June 2010 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
) suggests that a herniated disk is one of the most frequent causes of low back and leg pain in adults, but surgery is not for everyone. Between 60 and 80 percent of people will experience low back pain at some point in their lives.
Disks, which are strong shock absorbers between the vertebrae, can begin to herniate or weaken when their jelly-like nucleus pushes against the outer ring due to aging or a sudden injury. This pressure against the outer ring is often what causes lower back pain.
"Orthopaedic surgeons can help by educating patients about the risks of back surgery and work with the patient to determine the best course of therapy, whether it be surgical or non-surgical," stated review co-author Mark Weidenbaum, MD, Director of Orthopaedic Spine Surgery, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, New York-Presbyterian Hospital-Milstein Pavilion, Columbia University Medical Center, New York.
A herniated disk can sometimes be very painful and most people feel better with just a few months of nonsurgical therapy, which can consist of physical treatment, medications or epidural steroids. However, some patients are treated with a surgical procedure known as a diskectomy.........
Posted by: Mark Read more Source
June 29, 2010, 7:19 AM CT
Use public transport system to lose weight
Increasing the availability of public transit systems is one among many modifications to the built environment that offers opportunities for increasing physical activity and reducing the prevalence of obesity and its associated problems. As per a research findings reported in the recent issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine
, scientists from the University of Pennsylvania, Drexel University and the RAND Corporation observed that construction of a light-rail system (LRT) resulted in increased physical activity (walking) and subsequent weight loss by people served by the LRT. These findings suggest that improving neighborhood environments and increasing the public's use of LRT systems could improve health outcomes and potentially impact millions of individuals.
Public policy implications of the study are significant. "The built environment can constrain or facilitate physical activity. Understanding ways to encourage greater use of local environments for physical activity offers some hope for reducing the growth in the prevalence of obesity," commented lead investigator John M. MacDonald, PhD, University of Pennsylvania. "Given that perceptions of neighborhood environments are independently linked to improved health outcomes, and that individuals who choose to use LRT obtain some relative weight reduction, it would be prudent to encourage public policies that improve the safety and attractiveness of pedestrian environments that link home, work and transit stops to increase use of public transit for commuting to work. Public policy investments in transit should consider potential increases in physical activity as part of the broader set of costbenefit calculations of transit systems. Land- use planning and travel choice have a clear impact on health outcomes. Public transit systems can generate positive health impacts by encouraging greater numbers of users to walk to station stops and maintain more physically active lives. An added benefit of public policy investments in LRT, on top of the general transportation benefits accrued, is the potential reductions in obesity in the population".........
Posted by: JoAnn Read more Source
June 29, 2010, 7:13 AM CT
Cheap, simple, noninvasive blood test for early pregnancy
Scientists in The Netherlands believe they are on the verge of developing a simple, prenatal blood test that would be able to detect accurately chromosomal abnormalities in the developing foetus. At present, the only reliable way to do this is through amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling, both of which are invasive and carry the risk of triggering a miscarriage.
Dr Suzanna Frints, a clinical geneticist at Maastricht University Medical Centre (Maastricht, The Netherlands), will tell the 26th annual meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology in Rome today (Tuesday), that she and her colleagues have been able to use molecular genetic probes to detect DNA belonging to the foetus in blood samples taken from pregnant women.
So far, they have been successful in identifying DNA from the Y chromosome, indicating that the foetus is a boy and therefore could be at risk of inheriting an X-linked disorder such as Duchenne's muscular dystrophy and haemophilia. .
The scientists believe the same method can be used to detect trisomy 21 (where an extra chromosome 21 causes Down's syndrome) and they are investigating this next, followed by trisomy 13 and 18 (responsible for causing Patau and Edward's syndromes respectively). .
Dr Frints and her colleagues are using the "Multiplex Ligation-dependent Probe Amplification" (MLPA), technique to detect foetal DNA that is present in the blood of women who have been pregnant for at least six to eight weeks. The MLPA test is part of an existing kit that is already used around the world to detect chromosomal abnormalities in invasively obtained amniotic fluid or chorionic villi samples from pregnant women. The kit is cheap and fast, delivering results within 24-62 hours, but, until now, it has only been used on samples taken during invasive procedures; it was not known whether it would work on cell free foetal DNA circulating in blood samples of pregnant women.........
Posted by: Binet Read more Source
June 29, 2010, 7:11 AM CT
Drinking alcohol during pregnancy
Mothers who drink alcohol while they are pregnant appears to be damaging the fertility of their future sons, as per new research to be presented at the 26th annual meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology in Rome today (Tuesday 29 June).
Doctors in Denmark observed that if mothers had drunk 4.5 or more drinks a week while pregnant, then the sperm concentration of their sons, measured about 20 years later, was a third lower compared to men who were not exposed to alcohol while in the womb. A drink was measured as 12 grams of alcohol, which is the equivalent to one 330 ml beer, one small (120 ml) glass of wine or one glass of spirits (40 ml).
Dr Cecilia Ramlau-Hansen, senior researcher at the Department of Occupational Medicine, Aarhus University Hospital (Denmark) and clinical associate professor at the Department of Epidemiology, Institute of Public Health, University of Aarhus, told a news briefing: "Our study shows that there is an association between drinking a moderate amount of alcohol (about four to five drinks a week) during pregnancy and lower sperm concentrations in sons. However, because this is an observational study we cannot say for certain that the alcohol causes the lower sperm concentrations. It is possible that drinking alcohol during pregnancy has a harmful effect on the foetal semen-producing tissue in the testes and thereby on semen quality in later life but our study is the first of its kind, and more research within this area is needed before any causal link can be established or safe drinking limits proposed".........
Posted by: Binet Read more Source
June 28, 2010, 7:46 AM CT
Can too much HDL be harmful?
Elevated blood levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) or "good" cholesterol, typically thought to protect against heart disease, may do the opposite in women with type 1 diabetes, as per a University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health study being presented at the 70th Scientific Sessions of the American Diabetes Association.
The study, abstract number 0098-OR, included 658 men and women enrolled in the Pittsburgh Epidemiology of Diabetes Complications Study, a long-term prospective examination of childhood onset type 1 diabetes that began in 1986. Participants were diagnosed with type 1 diabetes between 1950 and 1980.
HDL cholesterol is known as "good" cholesterol because it helps prevent arteries from becoming clogged. High levels of HDL cholesterol, over 60 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL), generally protect against heart disease, while low levels (less than 40 mg/dL for men and less than 50 mg/dL for women) increase risk.
Study scientists found the occurence rate of heart disease increased in both men and women with diabetes who had lower levels of HDL below 47.5 mg/dL. For men, as levels of HDL increased, their occurence rate of heart disease decreased. The same was found for women, except in those with very high levels of HDL (over 80 mg/dL) whose occurence rate of heart disease increased substantially. Study authors were unable to draw a meaningful comparison to male participants since only a few had HDL over 80 mg/dL.........
Posted by: Daniel Read more Source
June 28, 2010, 7:40 AM CT
Intervention lowered obesity rate
An intervention in middle schools lowered the obesity rate in students at highest risk for type 2 diabetes, those who started out overweight or obese in sixth grade, an NIH-funded study has observed. However, schools that implemented the program did not differ from comparison schools in the study's primary outcomethe prevalence of overweight and obesity combinedwhich had declined 4 percent in both groups of schools by the end of the three-year study.
The goal of the HEALTHY Study was to determine whether changes in school food services; longer, more intense periods of physical education; and classroom activities to promote behavior change would lower risk factors for type 2 diabetes. Conducted from the beginning of the sixth grade to the end of the eighth, the study involved 4,600 students attending 42 middle schools in seven areas of the country. Schools were randomly assigned to implement the program or serve as a comparison school.
"The study shows that a school-based program can help lower obesity and certain risk factors for type 2 diabetes in youth at high risk for the disease," said Griffin P. Rodgers, M.D., director of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK).
Scientists were surprised to find that the number of overweight and obese students had declined in comparison schools as well as program schools. "The decline in the number of overweight and obese children in comparison schools was a welcome but unexpected finding," said study chair and main author Gary D. Foster, Ph.D., of Temple University, Philadelphia. "Future analyses will try to clarify the reasons for the improvement in these schools. For example, we'll look at the comparison schools to see if they made healthy changes to the school environment because of increased awareness about the problem of childhood obesity".........
Posted by: JoAnn Read more Source
June 28, 2010, 7:39 AM CT
Gestational diabetes serotonin and dietary protein
The cause of diabetes during pregnancy is directly controlled by serotonin, a chemical produced by the body and normally known as a neurotransmitter, and is influenced by the amount of protein in the mother's diet early in pregnancy, as per new findings of an international team led by scientists at UCSF.
The surprise discovery could lead to simple dietary solutions and possible therapeutics for the disorder known as gestational diabetes, which if untreated, has serious implications for both mother and child. It also offers new insights into possible ways to reverse non-gestational diabetes in its early stages, the scientists say.
The findings will be reported in an upcoming issue of "Nature Medicine
" and are available June 27 via Advance Online Publication at http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nm.2173.
Researchers have puzzled for decades over the fact that the onset of pregnancy causes a woman to double the number of insulin-producing islet cells in her pancreas, as per UCSF Professor Michael German, MD, who is senior author of the paper. While that increase ultimately enables the mother to control the flow of nutrients to the fetus during its final growth spurt in the third trimester, the islet cell production occurs long before those nutrients are actually needed.........
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June 28, 2010, 7:38 AM CT
MMRV vaccine associated with 2-fold risk of seizures
The combination vaccine for measles, mumps, rubella and chickenpox (MMRV) is linked to double the risk of febrile seizures for 1- to 2-year-old children compared with same-day administration of the separate vaccine for MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) and the varicella (V) vaccine for chicken pox, as per a Kaiser Permanente Division of Research study appearing online in the journal Pediatrics
A febrile seizure is a brief, fever-related convulsion but it does not lead to epilepsy or seizure disorders, scientists explained.
Funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the study analyzed 459,000 children 12 to 23 months old from numerous health systems across the United States receiving their first dose of measles-containing vaccine and found MMRV to be linked to a two hundred percent increased risk of fever and febrile seizures 7-10 days after vaccination compared with same-day administration of a separate shot for MMR and the varicella (chickenpox) vaccine. This study observed that the risk for a febrile seizure after the first dose of MMRV vaccine is low, eventhough it is higher than after MMR vaccine and varicella vaccine administered as separate injections.
The study found no evidence of an increased febrile seizure risk after any measles vaccine beyond 7-10 days post vaccination.........
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June 28, 2010, 7:36 AM CT
Statins may lower cancer recurrence
Men who use statins to lower their cholesterol are 30 percent less likely to see their prostate cancer come back after surgery in comparison to men who do not use the drugs, as per scientists at Duke University Medical Center. Scientists also observed that higher doses of the drugs were linked to lower risk of recurrence.
The findings appear in the journal CANCER.
"The findings add another layer of evidence suggesting that statins may have an important role in slowing the growth and progression of prostate cancer," says Stephen Freedland, M.D., a member of the Duke Prostate Center and the Urology Section at the Durham Veterans Affairs Medical Center, and the senior author of the study. "Prior studies have shown that statins have anti-cancer properties, but it's not entirely clear when it's best to use them or even how they work".
Scientists examined the records of 1319 men who underwent radical prostatectomy included in the Shared Equal Access Regional Cancer Hospital (SEARCH) database. They observed that 18 percent of the men 236 were taking statins at the time of surgery.
Scientists followed the patients after surgery to evaluate recurrence rates, measured by slight rises in the PSA levels after surgery, a development known as "biochemcical recurrence." Time to biochemical recurrence is viewed as an important clinical factor because it is correlated with the risk of disease progression and death.........
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June 24, 2010, 11:18 PM CT
Moldy homes a serious risk for severe asthma
Exposure to high levels of fungus may increase the risk of severe asthma attacks among people with certain chitinase gene variants, as per a research studyfrom Harvard Medical School, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute and Brigham and Women's Hospital.
The research was published online on the American Thoracic Society's journal Web site ahead of the print edition of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine
"We observed that the interaction between environmental mold exposure and certain variants of chitinase genes were positively linked to severe asthma exacerbations requiring hospitalization," said lead researcher, Ann Wu, assistant professor at the at Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute.
Chitinases break down chitin, a component in a number of fungi, and are induced during allergic inflammation. It has been suggested by past research that these could be biomarkers of inflammation. Moreover, certain variants of chitinase genes are known to be expressed more heavily in people with asthma.
The scientists used data from the Childhood Asthma Management Program, a multicenter trial that enrolled children between the ages of 5 and 12 with mild to moderate persistent asthma. Mold measures were taken in the subjects' homes at the beginning of the study, and homes were classified as having greater or less than 25,000 mold colonies per gram of household dust.........
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