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February 1, 2011, 7:58 AM CT

Resolved to quit smoking?

Resolved to quit smoking?
Brain scans showing neural reactions to pro-health messages can predict if you'll keep that resolution to quit smoking more accurately than you yourself can. That's as per a newly released study forthcoming in Health Psychology, a peer-evaluated journal.

"We targeted smokers who were already taking action to quit," says Emily Falk, the main author of the study and director of the Communication Neuroscience Laboratory at the U-M Institute for Social Research (ISR) and Department of Communication Studies. "And we observed that neural activity can predict behavior change, above and beyond people's own evaluation of how likely they are to succeed.

"These results bring us one step closer to the ability to use functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to select the messages that are most likely to affect behavior change both at the individual and population levels. It seems that our brain activity may provide information that introspection does not".

For the study, funded by the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation, Falk and his colleagues Matthew Lieberman, Elliot Berkman, and Danielle Whalen tested 28 heavy smokers, recruited from an anti-smoking program. Each person completed a questionnaire on their smoking history, degree of nicotine dependence, cravings, and intentions to quit. Each was also tested for exhaled carbon monoxide (CO), a measure of recent smoking.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


February 1, 2011, 7:55 AM CT

Aging safely at home?

Aging safely at home?
The network of public services that supports California's low-income, disabled elderly is fragile, affecting the ability of these vulnerable residents to live independent lives in their own homes, as per a newly released study from the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.

This policy note reports the first findings from a yearlong effort to follow the lives and challenges encountered by several dozen representative older Californians in Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco and Santa Clara who are enrolled in Medicare and Medi-Cal and who receive in-home and community care.

The documentary project comes as California lawmakers consider additional cuts to a network of services that help seniors remain "safely in their homes" � the stated goal of these public programs and the way in which an overwhelming number of Americans say they want to age.

The policy note, "Holding On: Older Californians with Disabilities Rely on Public Services to Remain Independent," shows seniors struggling to live functional lives in the face of already reduced caregiving hours. For example: .



Caring for the caregivers.



Sara cares for her disabled son and husband, whose heart disease, diabetes, incontinence and limited mobility require 24-hour care. There's help from In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) and other family members, but Sara is the primary caregiver. Now, her back is acting up. She's been delaying seeing a doctor to take care of her own needs � who will care for her family if she's hospitalized?........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


February 1, 2011, 7:48 AM CT

Tonsillectomy linked to excess weight gain

Tonsillectomy linked to excess weight gain
Alexandria, VA � Tonsillectomy is the most common major surgical procedure performed in children. Children who undergo the surgical removal of their tonsils (tonsillectomy), with or without the removal of their adenoids (adenoidectomy), are at increased risk for becoming overweight after surgery, as per new research reported in the February 2011 issue of Otolaryngology � Head and Neck Surgery

Pediatric obesity has increased overwhelmingly over the last 20 years, with recent data suggesting that as a number of as 33 percent of American children are overweight and 17 percent obese. Obese children are at increased risk of becoming obese adults, thus making them susceptible to cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

The study sample included 795 children aged 0 to 18 years old, described as normal weight or overweight and who had tonsillectomy or adenotonsillectomy surgery. In 47.7 percent of patients, the primary reason for surgery was sleep-disordered breathing. The first group included three studies involving 127 children, whose body mass index (BMI) increased by 5.5-8.2%. The second group included three studies involving 419 patients, in whom the standardized weight scores increased in 46-100% patients. The third group included three studies with 249 patients, in whom 50 � 75% of the patients gained weight after adenoidectomy. Each study was designed with different definitions of overweight and a range of follow-up periods.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


February 1, 2011, 7:46 AM CT

Repeat MRI screening for breast cancer

Repeat MRI screening for breast cancer
MRI screening for breast cancer delivers consistent rates of cancer detection and fewer false-positive results over time, as per a newly released study published online and in the April print edition of Radiology

While MRI can be more effective than mammography at identifying suspicious areas of the breast, it is not always able to distinguish between malignant and non-malignant lesions, which can result in additional testing and false-positive results that may cause anxiety for patients. A screening exam is considered to be false positive when its results recommend further testing or a biopsy of a suspicious finding, but no cancer is found.

"MRI is an excellent screening tool for breast cancer, but the higher rate of false-positive results keeps some women from undergoing the exam," said the study's co-author Martha B. Mainiero, M.D., director of the Anne C. Pappas Center for Breast Imaging at Rhode Island Hospital and associate professor of diagnostic imaging at The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University in Providence, R.I. "The goal of our study was to determine if the availability of previous MR images for comparison reduces the rate of false positives linked to the initial MRI breast screening exam".

In the study, scientists evaluated reports from 650 consecutive screening MRI breast exams performed on women between September 2007 and December 2008 at Rhode Island Hospital. The women, who ranged in age from 25 to 81 years, were referred for MRI screening because they were considered to be at high risk for breast cancer.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


February 1, 2011, 7:44 AM CT

Video games are good for girls

Video games are good for girls
Dads who still haven't given up video games now have some justification to keep on playing � if they have a daughter.

Scientists from Brigham Young University's School of Family Life conducted a study on video games and children between 11 and 16 years old. They observed that girls who played video games with a parent enjoyed many advantages. Those girls behaved better, felt more connected to their families and had stronger mental health. Professor Sarah Coyne is the main author of the study, which appears Feb. 1 in the Journal of Adolescent Health

"The surprising part about this for me is that girls don't play video games as much as boys," Coyne said. "But they did spend about the same amount of time co-playing with a parent as boys did".

The findings come with one important caveat: The games had to be age-appropriate. If the game was rated M for mature, it weakened the statistical relationship between co-playing and family connectedness.

The study involved 287 families with an adolescent child. Mario Kart, Mario Brothers, Wii Sports, Rock Band and Guitar Hero topped the list of games played most often by girls. Call of Duty, Wii Sports and Halo ranked 1, 2 and 3 among boys.

For boys, playing with a parent was not a statistically significant factor for any of the outcomes the scientists measured (positive behavior, aggression, family connection, mental health). Yet for girls, playing with a parent accounted for as much as 20 percent of the variation on those measured outcomes.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


February 1, 2011, 7:05 AM CT

Race gap narrows for some cancers

Race gap narrows for some cancers
While the overall death rate for cancer continues to drop among African Americans, the group continues to have higher death rates and shorter survival of any racial and ethnic group in the U.S. for most cancers. The findings come from Cancer Facts & Figures for African Americans 2011-2012, the latest edition of a report produced every two years by the American Cancer Society.

The higher overall cancer death rate among African Americans is due largely to higher mortality rates from breast and colorectal cancers in women and higher mortality rates from prostate, lung, and colorectal cancers in men. In recent years, death rates for lung and other smoking-related cancers and for prostate cancer have decreased faster in African American men than white men, leading to a narrowing of the gap in overall cancer death rates. Notably, lung cancer death rates for young African Americans and whites have converged in both men and women. In contrast, the racial disparity has continued to increase in recent years for colorectal cancer in both men and women and for breast cancer in women, cancers for which progress has been made through screening and improvements in therapy.

"While the factors behind these racial disparities are multifaceted, there is little doubt socioeconomic status plays a critical role," said Otis W. Brawley, M.D., American Cancer Society chief medical officer. "African Americans are disproportionately represented in lower socioeconomic groups. For most cancers, the lower the socioeconomic status, the higher the risk. It's important to note as well that the factors linked to socioeconomic status contribute to substantial differences in cancer incidence and mortality within racial and ethnic groups as well. People with lower socioeconomic status have higher cancer death rates, regardless of demographic factors such as race/ethnicity".........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


February 1, 2011, 7:01 AM CT

Key to understanding cause of lupus

Key to understanding cause of lupus
S. Ansar Ahmed (left), immunolgy professor and head of the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine's Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology, and Rujuan Dai, a research scientist at the veterinary college, published research that can potentially impact future diagnosis and treatment of lupus, an immune illness affecting more than five million people worldwide.

Credit: Virginia Tech Photo

Potentially impacting future diagnosis and therapy of lupus, an immune illness affecting more than 5 million people worldwide, scientists at the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech have likely uncovered where the breakdown in the body's lymphocyte molecular regulatory machinery is occurring.

Rujuan Dai, research scientist, and her colleagues in the veterinary college's Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology, have discovered a "common set of dysregulated miRNAs in murine lupus models." The research, which appears in the Dec. 13, 2010, issue of the scientific journal PLoS One, was funded in part by the Lupus Foundation of America.

Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease of connective tissue that causes the body's immune system to become hyperactive and attack normal, healthy tissue. This results in symptoms such as inflammation, swelling, and possible damage to joints, skin, kidneys, blood, the heart, or lungs.

In an effort to better understand epigenetic factors in the causes of lupus, scientists at the veterinary college focused on microRNA (miRNA), seeking to determine potential impairments of genetic regulation. These small RNAs control gene expression by directly regulating specific target messenger RNAs via inhibition of their translation or inducing their degradation.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


January 28, 2011, 8:06 PM CT

Root cause of blood vessel damage in diabetes

Root cause of blood vessel damage in diabetes
Blood flow was interrupted in a vessel in normal mice (above) and in FASTie mice (below). After a few weeks, the normal mice formed new blood vessels to restore blood flow, but FASTie mice without fatty acid synthase did not.

Semenkovich lab, Washington University School of Medicine
A key mechanism that appears to contribute to blood vessel damage in people with diabetes has been identified by scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

Blood vessel problems are a common diabetes complication. A number of of the nearly 26 million Americans with the disease face the prospect of amputations, heart attack, stroke and vision loss because of damaged vessels.

Reporting in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, the Washington University scientists say studies in mice show that the damage appears to involve two enzymes, fatty acid synthase (FAS) and nitric oxide synthase (NOS), that interact in the cells that line blood vessel walls.

"We already knew that in diabetes there's a defect in the endothelial cells that line the blood vessels," says first author Xiaochao Wei, PhD. "People with diabetes also have depressed levels of fatty acid synthase. But this is the first time we've been able to link those observations together".

Wei is a postdoctoral research scholar in the lab of Clay F. Semenkovich, MD, the Herbert S. Gasser Professor of Medicine, professor of cell biology and physiology and chief of the Division of Endocrinology, Metabolism and Lipid Research.

Wei studied mice that had been genetically engineered to make FAS in all of their tissues except the endothelial cells that line blood vessels. These so-called FASTie mice experienced problems in the vessels that were similar to those seen in animals with diabetes.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


January 28, 2011, 7:43 PM CT

Antibiotic against cancer

Antibiotic against cancer
Zhong-Yin Zhang, Ph.D.
Robert A. Harris Professor and Chairman of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

An antibiotic known for its immunosuppressive functions could also point the way to the development of new anti-cancer agents, scientists at the Indiana University School of Medicine have reported.

The study determined that the compound, tautomycetin, targets an enzyme called SHP2, which plays an important role in cell activities such as proliferation and differentiation. Interestingly, SHP2 mutations are also known to cause several types of leukemia and solid tumors. The findings were published in the Jan. 28, 2011, issue of the journal Chemistry and Biology.

The potential for developing anti-cancer agents grew out of an attempt to determine how the compound, tautomycetin, exerts its immune suppression activities, said Zhong-Yin Zhang, Ph.D., Robert A. Harris Professor and chairman of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

The finding is also encouraging because SHP2 is a member of a large family of enzymes called protein tyrosine phosphotases (PTPs), which are important in the signaling processes that control all essential cellular functions. Dysregulation of PTP activity has been associated with several human diseases, including cancer, diabetes, and immune dysfunctions. But their makeup has made it difficult to find potential drugs to act on them, characteristics that have labeled the PTPs as "undruggable," Dr. Zhang said.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


January 28, 2011, 7:31 PM CT

Pre-surgical stress management

Pre-surgical stress management
Lorenzo Cohen, Ph.D., is a professor in MD Anderson's Departments of General Oncology and Behavioral Science.

Credit: MD Anderson

Practicing stress management techniques before prostate cancer surgery may help activate the body's immune response leading to quicker recovery, as well as aid in lowering mood disturbance, as per a newly released study by scientists at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

The study is reported in the February/March edition of the journal Psychosomatic Medicine It's the first to examine the effects pre-surgery stress management training has on immune outcomes in men with prostate cancer undergoing radical prostatectomy (surgical removal of the prostate). The scientists previously reported that men who received this training before surgery had significantly less mood disturbance and improved quality of life one year later.



Two levels of stress accompany surgery


"Men who face prostatectomy as therapy for prostate cancer often have high stress levels about the procedure and the potential effects on their quality of life," said Lorenzo Cohen, Ph.D., the study's senior author and professor in MD Anderson's Departments of General Oncology and Behavioral Science. "Both the physical and psychological stress of surgery can be harmful to the immune system. Even brief pre-surgery sessions of stress management positively impact on the recovery process, both in terms of psychological and immunological outcomes," he 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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