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November 8, 2010, 7:52 AM CT

Joint pain linked to breast cancer drug

Joint pain linked to breast cancer drug
A newly released study suggests joint complaints attributed to aromatase inhibitors (AI), popular breast cancer drugs, are not linked to inflammatory arthritis or autoimmune disease. Because of that, scientists say women who were primarily concerned about the threat of arthritis should be encouraged to continue taking the medication. The findings of the study will be presented Tuesday, Nov. 9 at the 74th Annual Scientific Meeting of the American College of Rheumatology in Atlanta, Georgia.

For a number of post-menopausal women with breast cancer promoted by the hormone estrogen, AIs can dramatically reduce the risk of their cancer coming back. Doctors say the AIs must be taken for five years to gain the full benefit, however the development of joint complaints in up to 35 percent of women forces a number of of them to stop early.

"It's not clear why these joint symptoms occur, but we wondered if they could be correlation to inflammation or an autoimmune disease," says Victoria K Shanmugam, MBBS, MRCP, assistant professor in the Division of Rheumatology, Immunology and Allergy at Georgetown University Medical Center, who led the study. "Our research ruled out both".

The case-controlled study included 25 postmenopausal patients with breast cancer with hand pain and no known autoimmune disease who were treated for their cancer at Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center. Another 23 participants who were not receiving the drugs enrolled as a control group.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


November 8, 2010, 7:50 AM CT

Studying the metabolome of smokers

Studying the metabolome of smokers
Examining the blood "metabolomics" profile of smokers immediately after they had a cigarette revealed activation of pathways involved in cell death, inflammation, and other forms of systemic damage, say scientists at Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, part of Georgetown University Medical Center.

They say their findings, presented at the Ninth AACR Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research Meeting, is the best analysis for chemicals unequivocally produced by smoking and indicates the potential toll that carcinogens and toxins poise to smokers years before lung cancer, heart disease, or other smokingrelated diseases appear.

"Our analysis uncovered hallmarks of liver, heart, and kidney toxicity in otherwise healthy patients," says the study's lead investigator, Ping-Ching Hsu, a doctoral student who works in the laboratory of oncology researcher Peter Shields, MD, who specializes in tobacco carcinogenesis. Shields is the senior author.

Shields says the findings could help in the development of new blood tests that will allow scientists to assess the harmfulness of one tobacco product in comparison to another. This could be useful to the federal Food and Drug Administration, the agency charged by Congress to begin controlling the contents of cigarettes.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


November 8, 2010, 7:46 AM CT

Tai Chi relieves arthritis pain

Tai Chi relieves arthritis pain
In the largest study to date of the Arthritis Foundation's Tai Chi program, participants showed improvement in pain, fatigue, stiffness and sense of well-being.

Their ability to reach while maintaining balance also improved, said Leigh Callahan, PhD, the study's main author, associate professor in the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine and a member of UNC's Thurston Arthritis Research Center.

"Our study shows that there are significant benefits of the Tai Chi course for individuals with all types of arthritis, including fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis," Callahan said. "We found this in both rural and urban settings across a southeastern state and a northeastern state".

Callahan will present these results on Monday, Nov. 8, at the annual scientific meeting of the American College of Rheumatology in Atlanta.

In the study, 354 participants were recruited from 20 sites in North Carolina and New Jersey. They were randomly assigned to two groups. The intervention group received the 8-week, twice-weekly Tai Chi course immediately while the other group was a delayed control group. All participants received baseline and 8-week follow-up assessments, after which the control group also received the Tai Chi course.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


November 5, 2010, 7:58 AM CT

Gene linked to the spread of eye melanoma.

Gene linked to the spread of eye melanoma.
A cancerous melanoma tumor (dark area, upper right) is seen below the retina.

Harbour laboratory
Scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have identified a gene associated with the spread of eye melanoma.

Eventhough more studies are needed, the scientists say the discovery is an important step in understanding why some tumors spread (metastasize) and others don't. They believe the findings could lead to more effective therapys.

Reporting online in the journal Science Express, the team found mutations in a gene called BAP1 in 84 percent of the metastatic eye tumors they studied. In contrast, the mutation was rare in tumors that did not metastasize.

Metastasis is the most common cause of death in cancer patients, yet little is known about how cancer cells evolve the ability to spread to other parts of the body. There is growing evidence that mutations in so-called metastasis suppressor genes may promote the spread of cancer, while having little to do with earlier stages in the life of a tumor. Very few such genes have been identified, but this finding strongly implicates BAP1 as a new member of that small group.

"Researchers and physicians have been waiting for a rational, therapeutic target that we could use to treat high-risk patients," says first author and Washington University ophthalmologist J. William Harbour, MD. "We believe this discovery may provide insights needed to hasten the development of therapies for these patients".........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


November 5, 2010, 7:53 AM CT

Hard work improves the taste of food

Hard work improves the taste of food
It's usually accepted that we appreciate something more if we have to work hard to get it, and a Johns Hopkins University study bears that out, at least when it comes to food.

The study seems to suggest that hard work can even enhance our appreciation for fare we might not favor, such as the low-fat, low calorie variety. At least in theory, this means that if we had to navigate an obstacle course to get to a plate of baby carrots, we might come to prefer those crunchy crudits over the sweet, gooey Snickers bars or Peanut M&Ms more easily accessible via the office vending machine.

"Basically, what we have shown is that if you have to expend more effort to get a certain food, not only will you value that food more, but it might even taste better to you," explained Alexander Johnson, an associate research scientist in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences at Johns Hopkins. "At present, we don't know why effort seems to boost the taste of food, but we know that it does, and this effect lasts for at least 24 hours after the act of working hard to get the food."

The study, titled "Greater effort boosts the affective taste properties of food," appears in this week's issue of the Proceedings of the Royal Society B........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


November 5, 2010, 7:36 AM CT

Helical CT scans reduce lung cancer mortality

Helical CT scans reduce lung cancer mortality
In a major newly released study announced recently by the National Cancer Institute, scientists including Brown University biostatistian Constantine Gatsonis and colleagues observed that screening for lung cancer using helical Computerized axial tomography scanning reduced lung cancer deaths by 20 percent in comparison to using chest X-rays.

"The findings we're announcing today offer the first definitive evidence for the effectiveness of helical CT screening smokers for lung cancer " said Gatsonis, a lead biostatistician in the study and director of the American College of Radiology Imaging Network's (ACRIN) Biostatistics and Data Management Center, based at Brown's Center for Statistical Sciences. "This is a major step in the formulation of appropriate screening strategies for this deadly disease".

The National Lung Screening Trial (NLST) was conducted by a consortium consisting of ACRIN and the Lung Screening Study (LSS). The consortium enrolled more than 53,000 current and former heavy smokers ages 55 to 74 into the NLST at 33 sites across the United States. Starting in August 2002, participants were enrolled during a 20-month period and randomly assigned to receive three annual screens with either low-dose helical CT (often referred to as spiral CT) or standard chest X-ray. A manuscript reporting on the design of the study appeared yesterday on the Web site of the journal Radiology.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


November 5, 2010, 7:28 AM CT

Promise against severe side effects

Promise against severe side effects
A team of researchers has found a way to eliminate a debilitating side effect linked to one of the main chemotherapy drugs used for treating colon cancer. The strategy used in their preclinical researchinhibiting an enzyme in bacteria of the digestive tractcould allow patients to receive higher and more effective doses of the drug, known as CPT-11 or Irinotecan.

The study, spearheaded by researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and involving collaborators at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University and North Carolina Central University in Durham, is described in the November 5 issue of Science

While the chemotherapy agent CPT-11 has proven useful in attacking colorectal tumors, it can also cause severe diarrhea - limiting the dosage that patients can tolerate and curbing the drug's potential effectiveness. The primary cause of the diarrhea is thought to bebeta glucuronidase, an enzyme found in bacteria that live in the gastrointestinal tract. After the liver has rendered CPT-11 inert, the drug enters the intestine where it's reactivated by the beta glucuronidase of the gut bacteria. The revived CPT-11 irritates the intestine and causes severe diarrhea in up to 30 percent of patients who receive it.

To overcome this crippling side effect, the UNC scientists decided to look for compounds that would block the action of beta glucuronidase without eliminating the gut bacteria, which are important for human health.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


November 3, 2010, 7:51 AM CT

Brain's ability to selectively focus

Brain's ability to selectively focus
A University of Toronto study shows that visual attention - the brain's ability to selectively filter unattended or unwanted information from reaching awareness - diminishes with age, leaving elderly adults less capable of filtering out distracting or irrelevant information.

Further, this age-related "leaky" attentional filter fundamentally impacts the way visual information is encoded into memory. Elderly adults with impaired visual attention have better memory for "irrelevant" information. This research, which was conducted by members of U of T's Department of Psychology, will be published Wednesday, November 3 in the Journal of Neuroscience.

In the study, the research team examined brain images using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) on a group of young (mean age = 22 years) and elderly adults (mean age = 77 years) while they looked at pictures of overlapping faces and places (houses and buildings). Participants were asked to only pay attention to the faces and to identify the gender of the person. Even though they could see the place in the image, it was not relevant to the task at hand.

"In young adults, the brain region for processing faces was active while the brain region for processing places was not," says Taylor Schmitz, main author of the research paper. "However, both the face and place regions were active in older people. This means that even at early stages of perception, elderly adults were less capable of filtering out the distracting information. Moreover, on a surprise memory test 10 minutes after the scan, elderly adults were more likely to recognize what face was originally paired with what house".........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


November 3, 2010, 7:37 AM CT

Hepatitis C cure rate improves

Hepatitis C cure rate improves
For patients with the most common form of hepatitis C being treated for the first time, the addition of an investigational hepatitis Cspecific protease inhibitor called telaprevir to the current standard treatment markedly improved their sustained viral response (SVR or viral cure) rate.

The lead investigator reporting the results of the ADVANCE trial is Dr. Ira M. Jacobson, chief of the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, and the Vincent Astor Distinguished Professor of Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College. Dr. Jacobson presented these pivotal Phase III results today at the 61st Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases in Boston.

Dr. Jacobson noted that 75 percent of patients treated with a telaprevir-based combination regimen for 12 weeks, followed by 12 or 36 weeks of the standard treatment of pegylated-interferon alfa-2a and ribavirin alone, achieved a viral cure. This in comparison to 44 percent of people treated with 48 weeks of pegylated-interferon and ribavirin alone. In addition, new data from the study showed that 62 percent of African-Americans achieved a viral cure with the telaprevir-based regimen in comparison to 25 percent of African-Americans who were treated with pegylated-interferon and ribavirin alone. Additionally, 62 percent of patients with advanced liver fibrosis (cirrhosis or scarring of the liver) achieved a viral cure with the telaprevir regimen in comparison to 33 percent who were treated with pegylated-interferon and ribavirin alone.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


November 1, 2010, 8:00 AM CT

Women with anorexia and unplanned pregnancies

Women with anorexia and unplanned pregnancies
Image source: Norwegian Institute of Public Health
A newly released study by University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Norwegian scientists has observed that women with anorexia nervosa are much more likely to have both unplanned pregnancies and induced abortions than women who don't have the serious eating disorder.

These results appears to be driven by a mistaken belief among women with anorexia that they can't get pregnant because they are either not having menstrual periods at all or are having irregular periods, said Cynthia M. Bulik, PhD, the study's main author and director of the UNC Eating Disorders Program.

"Anorexia is not a good contraceptive," Bulik said. "Just because you're not menstruating, or because you're menstruating irregularly, doesn't mean you're not at risk for becoming pregnant".

Physicians and other health care providers need to be aware of this as well, Bulik said. Doctors who treat women and adolescent girls, in particular, "need to make sure that they have the conversation about sexuality and contraception as clearly with patients with anorexia as they do with all other girls and women".

In addition, providers who take care of pregnant women need to know when their patients have an eating disorder in order to provide appropriate care. Screening for eating disorders during prenatal visits would be an excellent first step, Bulik said.........

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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