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September 28, 2009, 6:48 AM CT

Screening for jaundice in new born infants

Screening for jaundice in new born infants
Screening for excess amounts of bilirubin in new born infants can significantly decrease the occurrence rate of severe jaundice which, in extreme cases, can lead to seizures and brain damage, as per scientists at UCSF Children's Hospital and Kaiser Permanente's Division of Research in Oakland, CA.

The study, one of the first to examine the effectiveness of universal screening for hyperbilirubinemia, appears in the current issue of "Pediatrics," the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics. The study is one of six in this issue to explore the topic of bilirubin and hyperbilirubinemia.

Hyperbilirubinemia is caused by an elevation of a bile pigment, called bilirubin, in the blood. Bilirubin is made when the body breaks down old red blood cells, and high levels can cause jaundice, a condition that makes the newborn's skin and the white part of the eyes look yellow.

The scientists explain that most newborns have a rise in bilirubin in the days following birth. However, very high blood levels can be toxic to the nervous system. Monitoring these levels in babies with jaundice is important so that therapy can be started before levels become excessive, explain the researchers. They add that high bilirubin levels can be treated with light treatment, which converts the bilirubin into a form that the body can remove.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


September 28, 2009, 6:41 AM CT

Diabetes weakens your bones

Diabetes weakens your bones
Boston, MA and Newark, NJ Current research suggests that the inflammatory molecule TNF-α may contribute to delayed bone fracture healing in diabetics. The related report by Alblowi et al, "High Levels of TNF-α Contribute to Accelerated Loss of Cartilage in Diabetic Fracture Healing" appears in the October 2009 issue of the American Journal of Pathology

Diabetes, a condition where the body either does not produce enough, or respond to, insulin, affects at least 171 million people worldwide, a figure that is likely to double by 2030. Long-term complications of diabetes include cardiovascular disease, chronic renal failure, retinal damage that may lead to blindness, nerve damage, and blood vessel damage, which may cause erectile dysfunction and poor wound healing.

Diabetic patients often experience low bone density, which is linked to increased risk of bone fractures and delayed fracture repair. To examine how diabetes affects bone, Dr. Dana Graves and his colleagues of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and the Boston University School of Medicine explored bone repair in a mouse model of diabetes. They observed increased levels of inflammatory molecules, including TNF-α during fracture healing. The diabetic animals had rapid loss of cartilage in the healing bones, which was due to increased numbers of osteoclasts, cells that remove bone and cartilage. Factors that stimulate osteoclast formation were regulated by both TNF-α and a downstream mediator, FOXO1. These results suggest that diabetes-mediated increases in TNF-α and FOXO1 may underlie the impaired healing of diabetic fractures.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


September 24, 2009, 7:14 AM CT

Pregnant women need flu shots

Pregnant women need flu shots
Pregnant women should be sure to get all their flu shots as soon as the vaccines become available this year to protect them against both the seasonal flu and the H1N1 (swine) flu, as per eight leading national maternal and infant health organizations.

The eight organizations the March of Dimes, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American College of Nurse-Midwives, the Association of Women's Health, Obstetric, and Neonatal Nurses, the Infectious Disease Society for Obstetrics and Gynecology and the Society of Maternal-Fetal Medicine today partnered to issue a joint statement because the H1N1 virus has proven to be particularly dangerous to pregnant women.

"The normal changes of pregnancy make pregnant women at increased risk of the harmful effects of flu infection," the groups say.

Some pregnant women appears to be reluctant to take these shots. But Dr. Jennifer L. Howse, president of the March of Dimes, says, "We urge every pregnant woman to discuss influenza immunization with her health care provider because the risk of serious illness during pregnancy is substantial. It is important to note that the vaccine has been shown to be safe and effective in clinical trials".........

Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source


September 24, 2009, 7:12 AM CT

Acetaminophen may prevent muscle loss

Acetaminophen may prevent muscle loss
Recent studies conducted by Dr. Eric Blough and colleagues at Marshall University have shown that use of the common pain reliever acetaminophen may help prevent age-associated muscle loss and other conditions.

Their study examined how acetaminophen may affect the regulation of protein kinase B (Akt), an enzyme known to play an important role in regulation of cellular survival, proliferation and metabolism.

The researchers' data indicates that aging skeletal muscles experience a decrease in the proper functioning of the enzyme and that acetaminophen intervention in aged animals could be used to restore Akt activity to a level comparable to that seen in young animals. In turn, this improvement in Akt activity was linked to improvements in muscle cell size and decreased muscle cell death.

"Using a model that closely mimics a number of of the age-associated physiological changes observed in humans, we were able to demonstrate that chronic acetaminophen therapy in a recommended dosage is not only safe but might be beneficial for the therapy of the muscle dysfunction a number of people experience as they get older," said Blough, an associate professor in the university's Department of Biological Sciences.

The lab's work, which was reported in the July 29 issue of the international research journal PLoS One, is the first study to show that acetaminophen ingestion, at least in animals, can be safely used for the therapy of age-related muscle loss. This finding could have far-reaching implications, given the fact that people age 65 and older make up the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. population.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


September 24, 2009, 7:01 AM CT

Vaccination could eradicate cervical cancer

Vaccination could eradicate cervical cancer
Cervical cancer could be eradicated within the next 50 years if countries implement national screening programmes based on detection of the human papilloma virus (HPV), which causes the disease, together with vaccination programmes against the virus, as per a cervical cancer screening expert.

Professor Jack Cuzick told Europe's largest cancer congress, ECCO 15 ESMO 34 [1], in Berlin today (Thursday 24 September) that while the current HPV vaccines protect against two cancer-causing strains of the HPV virus, soon there would be vaccines available that protect against nine types. If vaccination were to be combined with HPV screening (which is much more sensitive than the currently used Pap smear test), then eventually the cancer would disappear in those countries that had successfully implemented national programmes. However, this would require political will and effort at both national and European level.

"It's important to say up front that the HPV is responsible for all cervix cancer," said Prof Cuzick. "If you can eradicate the virus, the cancer will not appear. So the current vaccine holds the promise of eradicating about 70-75% of cervical cancers (caused by HPV types 16 and 18), and there may be some additional cross protection amongst types that are closely correlation to 16 or 18, in particular 31, 45 and a little bit of 33. There are new vaccines being planned that will vaccinate against nine types. If they are successful, there should be no need to screen women that have been vaccinated at all. That's the long-term future: vaccination and no screening. After about 50 years, we could see cervical cancer disappearing".........

Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source


September 24, 2009, 6:59 AM CT

Excess body weight causes over 124,000 new cancers a year in Europe

Excess body weight causes over 124,000 new cancers a year in Europe
At least 124,000 new cancers in 2008 in Europe may have been caused by excess body weight, as per estimates from a new modelling study. The proportion of cases of new cancers attributable to a body mass index of 25kg/m2 or more were highest among women and in central European countries such as the Czech Republic, Latvia, Slovenia and Bulgaria.

The main author of the study [1], Dr Andrew Renehan, told Europe's largest cancer congress, ECCO 15 ESMO 34 [2], in Berlin today (Thursday 24 September): "As more people stop smoking and fewer women take hormone replacement treatment, it is possible that obesity appears to become the biggest attributable cause of cancer in women within the next decade".

Dr Renehan, who is a senior lecturer in cancer studies and surgery at the University of Manchester (UK), and colleagues in the UK, The Netherlands and Switzerland, created a sophisticated model to estimate the proportion of cancers that could be attributed to excess body weight in 30 European countries. Using data from many sources including the World Health Organisation and the International Agency for Research on Cancer, they estimated that in 2002 (the most recent year for which there are reliable statistics on cancer incidence in Europe) there had been over 70,000 new cases of cancer attributable to excess BMI out of a total of nearly 2.2 million new diagnoses across the 30 European countries.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


September 24, 2009, 6:57 AM CT

Progress in Pancreatic cancer treatment

Progress in Pancreatic cancer treatment
For the first time scientists have shown that by inhibiting the action of an enzyme called TAK-1, it is possible to make pancreas cancer cells sensitive to chemotherapy, opening the way for the development of a new drug to treat the disease.

Dr Davide Melisi told Europe's largest cancer congress, ECCO 15 ESMO 34 [1], in Berlin today (Thursday 24 September) that resistance to chemotherapy was the greatest challenge to treating pancreas cancer.

"Pancreas cancer is an incurable malignancy, resistant to every anti-cancer therapy. Targeting TAK-1 could be a strategy to revert this resistance, increasing the efficacy of chemotherapy," said Dr Melisi, who until the start of September was a Fellow at the M.D. Anderson Center in Houston (Texas, USA); he has now moved to a staff position at the National Cancer Institute in Naples (Italy). "During the past few years we have been studying the role played by a cytokine or regulatory protein called Transforming Growth Factor beta (TGFbeta) in the development of pancreas cancer. Recently we focused our attention on a unique enzyme activated by TGFbeta, TAK-1, as a mediator for this extreme drug resistance".

Dr Melisi and colleagues investigated the expression of TAK-1 (TGFbeta-Activated Kinase-1) in pancreatic cell lines and developed a drug that was capable of inhibiting TAK-1. They tested the activity of the TAK-1 inhibitor on its own and in combination with the anti-cancer drugs gemcitabine, oxaliplatin and SN-38 (a metabolite of the anti-cancer drug irinotecan) in cell lines, and the activity of the TAK-1 inhibitor combined with gemcitabine against pancreas cancer in mice.........

Posted by: Sue      Read more         Source


September 23, 2009, 7:26 AM CT

Alcohol abuse, depression, and obesity

Alcohol abuse, depression, and obesity
There is new evidence that depression, obesity and alcohol abuse or dependency are interrelated conditions among young adult women but not men.

Using data collected when young adults were 24, 27 and 30 years of age, a team of University of Washington scientists observed that nearly half the sample of 776 young adults tracked during the study met the criteria for one of these conditions at each of these time points.

"The proportion of people with all three of these conditions at any one point is small," said Carolyn McCarty, the main author of a newly released study and a UW research associate professor of pediatrics and psychology. "For women there is a great deal of overlap between these common emotional and health problems that span early adulthood. Men may develop one of these conditions but they don't tend to lead another one later on".

"These conditions are major public health problems. They take a toll on families and community and are not subject to quick fixes. It requires a lot of time, money and energy to treat them".

The study observed that:.
  • Women with an alcohol disorder at age 24 were more than three times as likely to be obese when they were 27.
  • Women who are obese at 27 were more than twice as likely to be depressed when they were 30.........

    Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


September 23, 2009, 7:21 AM CT

'Lies my parents told me'

'Lies my parents told me'
Parents say that honesty is the best policy, but they regularly lie to their children as a way of influencing their behavior and emotions, finds new research from the University of Toronto and the University of California, San Diego.

Surprisingly little scholarship has been published on the subject of parental lying, so Gail Heyman, professor of psychology at UC San Diego, Diem Luu, a former UCSD student, and Kang Lee, professor at the University of Toronto and director of the Institute of Child Study, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, set out to explore the under-researched phenomenon. They asked U.S. participants in two related studies about parents lying to their children either for the purpose of promoting appropriate behavior or to make them happy.

In one of the studies, a number of parents reported they told their young children that bad things would happen if they didn't go to bed or eat what they were supposed to. For example, one mother said she told her child that if he didn't finish all of his food he would get pimples all over his face. Other parents reported inventing magical creatures. One explained, "We told our daughter that if she wrapped up all her pacifiers like gifts, the 'paci-fairy' would come and give them to children who needed them.I thought it was healthier to get rid of the pacifiers, and it was a way for her to feel proud and special".........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


September 23, 2009, 7:18 AM CT

Rethinking Alzheimer's disease and its treatment targets

Rethinking Alzheimer's disease and its treatment targets
The standard explanation for what causes Alzheimer's is known as the amyloid hypothesis, which posits that the disease results from of an accumulation of the peptide amyloid beta, the toxic protein fragments that deposit in the brain and become the sticky plaques that have defined Alzheimer's for more than 100 years.

Billions of dollars are spent yearly targeting this toxic peptide but what if this is the wrong target? What if the disease begins much earlier, fueled by a natural process? Reporting in the current edition of the journal Neurobiology of Aging, UCLA professor of psychiatry George Bartzokis argues just that and says that a better working hypothesis is the "myelin model." .

"The greatest promise of the myelin model of the human brain is its application to the development of new therapeutic approaches," Bartzokis said.

Like insulation around wires, myelin is a fatty sheath that coats our nerve axons, allowing for efficient conduction of nerve impulses. It is key to the fast processing speeds that underlie our higher cognitive functions and encoding of memories.

But the lifelong, extensive myelination of the human brain also makes it uniquely vulnerable to damage. The myelin model's central premise is that it is the normal, routine maintenance and repair of myelin throughout life that ultimately initiates the mechanisms that produce degenerative diseases like Alzheimer's. That is, the amyloid-beta peptide and the tau peptide, which is also implicated in Alzheimer's, as well as the signature clinical signs of the disease, such as memory loss and, ultimately, dementia, are all byproducts of the myelin breakdown and repair processes.........

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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