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November 5, 2009, 8:45 AM CT

How the heart is formed?

How the heart is formed?
Cardiac melanocyte-like cells in the mouse heart, identified by transgenic expression of a marker gene, are located in the region of the atria and the pulmonary veins and may serve as triggers for atrial arrhythmias.. (Click to view larger version.)
While studying how the heart is formed, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine serendipitously found a novel cellular source of atrial fibrillation (AF), the most common type of abnormal heart beat. Jonathan Epstein, MD, William Wikoff Smith Professor, and Chair, Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, and Vickas Patel, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, have identified a population of cells in the atria of the heart and pulmonary veins of humans and mice that appear to be the seat of AF. The finding may lead to a more precise way to treat AF, with reduced side effects. Their findings appear online in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

This group of cells expresses the protein DCT, which is also involved in making the skin pigment melanin and in the detoxification of free radicals. The scientists also showed that the DCT-expressing cells in the mouse heart were a distinct cell type from heart-muscle cells and pigment-producing cells, eventhough they conduct electrical currents important for coordinated contraction of the heart. The location of these cells in the pulmonary veins suggested their possible role in AF because AF can arise in these blood vessels. Atrial fibrillation is a very common and debilitating disease that greatly affects quality of life.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


November 5, 2009, 8:33 AM CT

Handedness May Effect Body Perception

Handedness May Effect Body Perception
There are areas in the brain devoted to our arms, legs, and various parts of our bodies. The way these areas are distributed throughout the brain are known as "body maps" and there are some significant differences in these maps between left- and right-handed people. For example, in left-handed people, there is an equal amount of brain area devoted to the left and right arms in both hemispheres. However, for right-handed people, there is more cortical area linked to right arm than the left.

Psychology experts Sally A. Linkenauger, Jonathan Z. Bakdash, and Dennis R. Proffitt of the University of Virginia, along with Jessica K. Witt from Purdue University, and Jeanine K. Stefanucci from The College of William and Mary wanted to see if this difference in body maps leads to differences in how we perceive the length of our arms. For this study, volunteers were brought to the lab and estimated their perceived arm length and how far they could reach with their arms. To estimate arm length, the volunteers would hold out each arm while a researcher standing in front of them would adjust a tape measure-the volunteers had to indicate when they thought the tape was the same length as their arm. To see how far volunteers could reach with each arm, they sat at a table with a plastic chip on it. The volunteers would instruct the experimenter to move the position of the chip to estimate how far they could reach.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


November 5, 2009, 8:28 AM CT

Religion and medicine

Religion and medicine
Do pediatric oncologists feel that religion is a bridge or a barrier to their work? Or do they feel it can be either, depending on whether their patients are recovering or deteriorating? A novel Brandeis University study examines these questions in the current issue of Social Problems

Through in-depth interviews with 30 pediatricians and pediatric oncologists at elite medical centers, the authors discovered that physicians tend to view religion and spirituality pragmatically, considering them resources in family decision-making and in end of life situations, and barriers when they conflict with medical decisions, said main author Brandeis sociologist Wendy Cadge.

Pediatricians, more than pediatric oncologists, say that religion is outside the purview, or boundary, of their profession, most likely because they deal primarily with healthy children. Pediatric oncologists, conversely, say that religion can help families cope with a dying child or an unfavorable medical outcome, said Cadge.

"Physicians view religion and spirituality as a barrier when it impedes medical recommendations and as a bridge when it helps families answer questions medicine inherently cannot," the authors wrote.

Only one doctor in the study directly asked patients and their families about religion and spirituality regularly. The other pediatricians said that direct conversations about religion were either not relevant or too personal, drawing a clear boundary between public and private that puts religion on the private side of the line.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


November 5, 2009, 8:23 AM CT

Acetaminophen may cause asthma

Acetaminophen may cause asthma
New research shows that the widely used pain reliever acetaminophen appears to be linked to an increased risk of asthma and wheezing in both children and adults exposed to the drug. Scientists from the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada, conducted a systematic review and metaanalysis of 19 clinical studies (total subjects=425,140) that compared the risk of asthma or wheezing with acetaminophen exposure.

The analysis showed that the pooled odds ratio (odds ratio for all studies combined) for asthma among users of acetaminophen was 1.63. The risk of asthma in children who used acetaminophen in the year previous to asthma diagnosis or in the first year of life was elevated to 1.60 and 1.47, respectively.

Furthermore, results showed a slight increase in the risk of asthma and wheezing with prenatal use of acetaminophen by mothers. Scientists speculate that acetaminophen's lack of inhibition of cyclooxygenase, the key enzyme involved in the inflammatory response of asthma, appears to be one explanation for the potential link between acetaminophen use and asthma.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


November 5, 2009, 8:22 AM CT

Women with asthma may benefit from oral contraceptives

Women with asthma may benefit from oral contraceptives
New research shows that during natural menstrual cycles, women with asthma who were not taking oral contraceptives (OC) had lower exhaled nitric oxide levels (eNO), a marker of airway inflammation linked to asthma, than women who were taking OC.

Scientists from McMaster University in Hamilton, ON, Canada, studied 17 women with asthma during their menstrual cycles. Results showed that individuals not using oral contraceptives (OC) had higher mean eNO levels than women using OC.

Furthermore, among women not using oral contraceptives, an increase in estrogen levels was linked to a decrease in eNO, while an increase in progesterone was significantly linked to an increase in eNO. Scientists speculate that OC may have a potential role in the management of premenopausal women with asthma.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


November 5, 2009, 8:19 AM CT

Green tea may prevent oral cancer

Green tea may prevent oral cancer
Green tea extract has shown promise as cancer prevention agent for oral cancer in patients with a pre-cancerous condition known as oral leukoplakia, as per scientists at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center.

The study, published online in Cancer Prevention Research, is the first to examine green tea as a chemopreventative agent in this high-risk patient population. The scientists observed that more than half of the oral leukoplakia patients who took the extract had a clinical response.

Long investigated in laboratory, epidemiological and clinical settings for several cancer types, green tea is rich in polyphenols, which have been known to inhibit carcinogenesis in preclinical models. Still, clinical results have been mixed.

"While still very early, and not definitive proof that green tea is an effective preventive agent, these results certainly encourage more study for patients at highest risk for oral cancer," said Vassiliki Papadimitrakopoulou, M.D., professor in M. D. Anderson's Department of Thoracic/Head and Neck Medical Oncology, and the study's senior author. "The extract's lack of toxicity is attractive - in prevention trials, it's very important to remember that these are otherwise healthy individuals and we need to ensure that agents studied produce no harm".........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


November 4, 2009, 8:22 AM CT

Weight training for breast cancer survivors

Weight training for breast cancer survivors
In addition to building muscle, weightlifting is also a prescription for self-esteem among breast cancer survivors, as per new University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine research. Breast cancer survivors who lift weights regularly feel better about bodies and their appearance and are more satisfied with their intimate relationships compared with survivors who do not lift weights, as per a newly released study reported in the journal Breast Cancer Research and Treatment.

Survivors' self-perceptions improved with weight lifting regardless of how much strength they gained during the year-long study, or whether they suffered from lymphedema, an incurable and sometimes debilitating side effect of breast surgery.

"It looks like weight training is not only safe and may make lymphedema flare ups less frequent, but it also seems help women feel better about their bodies," says senior author Kathryn Schmitz, PhD, MPH, an associate professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics and a member of Penn's Abramson Cancer Center. "The results suggest that the act of spending time with your body was the thing that was important -- not the physical results of strength."

The new insights come from a randomized controlled trial that tested the impact of twice-weekly weight lifting for 12 months on survivors' health and emotional status. In the first report from the trial, reported in the New England Journal (NEJM) in August, Schmitz and his colleagues observed that lymphedema sufferers who lifted weights were less likely to experience a worsening of their arm-swelling condition.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


November 4, 2009, 8:13 AM CT

Size and shape of the blood vessels predict prostate cancer behavior

Size and shape of the blood vessels predict prostate cancer behavior
A diagnosis of prostate cancer raises the question for patients and their physicians as to how the tumor will behave. Will it grow quickly and aggressively and require continuous therapy, or slowly, allowing treatment and its risks to be safely delayed?

The answer may lie in the size and shape of the blood vessels that are visible within the cancer, as per research led by researchers at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center-Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute in collaboration with the Harvard School of Public Health.

The study of 572 men with localized prostate cancer indicates that aggressive or lethal prostate cancers tend to have blood vessels that are small, irregular and primitive in cross-section, while slow-growing or indolent tumors have blood vessels that look more normal.

The findings were published Oct. 26 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology

"It's as if aggressive prostate cancers are growing faster and their blood vessels never fully mature," says study leader Dr. Steven Clinton, professor of medicine and a medical oncologist and prostate cancer specialist at Ohio State's Comprehensive Cancer Center-James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute.

"Prostate cancer is very heterogeneous, and we need better tools to predict whether a patient has a prostate cancer that is aggressive, fairly average or indolent in its behavior so that we can better define a course of therapy surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, hormonal treatment, or potentially new drugs that target blood vessels that is specific for each person's type of cancer," Clinton says.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


November 4, 2009, 8:11 AM CT

Enjoying the bounty of colorful fruits and vegetable

Enjoying the bounty of colorful fruits and vegetable
Hoping to keep the flu at bay? A strong immune system helps. Enjoying the bounty of colorful fruits and vegetables available right now can be an important step toward supporting your family's immune system this cold/flu season.

In addition to vitamins, minerals and fiber, fruits and vegetables contain phytonutrients, believed to come from the com-pounds that give these foods their vibrant colors. These phytonutrients provide a wide range of health benefits, includ-ing supporting a healthy immune system.

A newly released study, America's Phytonutrient Report, found eight in 10 Americans are missing out on the health benefits of a diet rich in colorful fruits and veggies, resulting in a phytonutrient gap. The report looked at fruit and vegetable consumption in five color categories, specifically green, red, white, blue/purple and yellow/orange, and the phytonutrients found in each color category.

Eating a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables is one way to help keep you and your family healthy. Foods in the red category are particularly helpful to our immune systems, in addition to supporting heart health. Tomatoes, pomegranate, red cabbage, cranberries, even pink grapefruit provide the phytonutrients lycopene and ellagic acid.

The health benefits of foods in the yellow/orange category support a health immune function tooalong with vision and heart health. And they help maintain skin hydrationimportant as we head into these cold, dry months. These foods pro-vide beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, lutein, quercetin and other phytonutrients that can be converted into Vitamin A. Deli-cious and nutritious yellow/orange fruits and vegetables available now include: carrots, squash, sweet potatoes and pi-neapple.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


November 4, 2009, 8:04 AM CT

Heart disease risk among post-menopausal women

Heart disease risk among post-menopausal women
Postmenopausal women who have higher testosterone levels appears to be at greater risk of heart disease, insulin resistance and the metabolic syndrome in comparison to women with lower testosterone levels, as per a newly released study accepted for publication in The Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM). This new information is an important step, say researchers, in understanding the role that hormones play in women's health.

"For a number of years, androgens like testosterone were thought to play a significant role in men only and to be largely irrelevant in women," said Anne Cappola, MD, of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in Philadelphia. "It is now largely accepted that premenopausal women with polycystic ovary syndrome, a condition in which androgens are elevated, have increased health risks. However, the clinical relevance of testosterone in women over the age of 65 had remained uncertain until this recent study".

In this study, scientists measured levels of testosterone in 344 women, aged 65-98 years. They observed that women with the highest testosterone levels in the top 25 percent of this study group were three times as likely to have coronary heart disease in comparison to women with lower testosterone levels. These women were also three times as likely to have a group of metabolic risk factors called the metabolic syndrome in comparison to women with lower testosterone levels.........

Posted by: Daniel      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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