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February 1, 2010, 7:36 AM CT

May need less sleep as you age

May need less sleep as you age
A study in the Feb. 1 issue of the journal SLEEP suggests that healthy elderly adults without sleep disorders can expect to have a reduced "sleep need" and to be less sleepy during the day than healthy young adults.

Results show that during a night of eight hours in bed, total sleep time decreased significantly and progressively with age. Elderly adults slept about 20 minutes less than middle-aged adults, who slept 23 minutes less than young adults. The number of awakenings and the amount of time spent awake after initial sleep onset increased significantly with age, and the amount of time spent in deep, slow-wave sleep decreased across age groups. Yet even with these decreases in sleep time, intensity and continuity, elderly adults displayed less subjective and objective daytime sleep propensity than younger adults.

Furthermore, two additional nights involving experimental disruption of slow-wave sleep led to a similar response in all age groups. Daytime sleep propensity increased, and slow-wave sleep rebounded during a night of recovery sleep. As per the authors, this suggests that the lack of increased daytime sleepiness in the presence of an age-related deterioration in sleep quality cannot be attributed to unresponsiveness to variations in homeostatic sleep pressure. Instead, healthy aging may be linked to reductions in the sleep duration and depth mandatory to maintain daytime alertness.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


January 29, 2010, 8:24 AM CT

Stopping Schizophrenia Before It Starts?

Stopping Schizophrenia Before It Starts?
Adult "schizophrenic" rats (middle) have larger lateral ventricles than those of normal rats (left), but become smaller after preventive treatment with clozapine in adolescence (right).
The onset of schizophrenia is not easy to predict. Eventhough it is linked to as a number of as 14 genes in the human genome, the previous presence of schizophrenia in the family is not enough to determine whether one will succumb to the mind-altering condition. The disease also has a significant environmental link.

As per Prof. Ina Weiner of Tel Aviv University's Department of Psychology, the developmental disorder, which commonly manifests in early adulthood, can be triggered in the womb by an infection. But unlike developmental disorders such as autism, it takes a number of years for the symptoms of schizophrenia to develop.

"Pharmacological therapys for schizophrenia remain unsatisfactory, so clinicians and scientists like myself have started to dig in another direction," says Prof. Weiner. "The big question asked in recent years is if schizophrenia can be prevented".

Revolutionizing the therapy

In their study, recently reported in Biological Psychiatry, Prof. Weiner and her colleagues Dr. Yael Piontkewiz and Dr. Yaniv Assaf sought to discover biological cues that would help trace the progression of the disease before symptoms manifested. "If progressive brain changes occur as schizophrenia is emerging, it is possible that these changes could be prevented by early intervention," she says. "That would revolutionize the therapy of the disorder.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


January 29, 2010, 8:18 AM CT

Doctors cut back hours when risk of malpractice suit rises

Doctors cut back hours when risk of malpractice suit rises
A newly released study shows that the number of hours physicians spend on the job each week is influenced by the fear of malpractice lawsuits.

Economists Eric Helland and Mark Showalter observed that doctors cut back their workload by almost two hours each week when the expected liability risk increases by 10 percent. The study, reported in the new issue of the Journal of Law and Economics, notes that the decline in hours adds up to the equivalent of one of every 35 physicians retiring without a replacement.

"The effect of malpractice risk on hours worked might seem like a small item in comparison to physicians moving across state borders or avoiding high-risk specialties like obstetrics," said Showalter, an economics professor at Brigham Young University. "However, when you aggregate that across all physicians, the total effect is quite large".

The analysis combined data gathered by insurers about medical liability risks in each state and medical specialty with physicians' responses to surveys about their workload and income.

When something changed the risk of medical liability - such as an adjustment in the maximum amount a jury could award in malpractice cases - doctors adjusted their workload. When liability risk went up, doctors saw fewer patients each week to minimize their chance of a lawsuit. When liability risk went down, doctors saw more patients each week.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


January 29, 2010, 8:10 AM CT

How pancreatic cancer able to defeat drugs

How pancreatic cancer able to defeat drugs
Scientists at the Moores Cancer Center at the University of California, San Diego, have found one reason that pancreas cancer tumors are so difficult to treat with drugs. They have shown how a molecular switch steps up pancreas cancer cell survival as well as resistance to a standard chemotherapy drug, and have identified alternate routes cancer cells take to avoid the effects of the treatment.

The findings, by a group led by Andrew M. Lowy, MD, professor of surgery and chief of surgical oncology at the UCSD School of Medicine and the Moores UCSD Cancer Center, are reported online and will appear February 1 in the journal Cancer Research The study provides new insights into pancreas cancer development and new potential drug targets and therapy strategies against the disease.

"To understand how to treat pancreas cancer tumors, we need to better understand their circuitry and behavior," Lowy said.

Pancreas cancer is a especially deadly cancer, fast-moving and difficult to detect early. It's estimated that more than 35,000 people died from pancreas cancer last year in the United States.

RON is a signaling protein known as a tyrosine kinase, essentially a switch that turns on various activities in cells. Prior work in Lowy's lab showed that RON is overexpressed in a majority of premalignant and pancreas cancer cells, and could also help cells resist dying. The scientists wanted to find out what role, if any, RON played in pancreas cancer development and progression.........

Posted by: Sue      Read more         Source


January 29, 2010, 8:08 AM CT

Change in mammography guidelines

Change in mammography guidelines
The methodology and evidence behind a widely publicized change in national mammography guidelines is questionable, as per a review in the Journal of Diagnostic Medical Sonography (JDMS), published by SAGE.

In November 2009, the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) published a report in the Annals of Internal Medicine discussing the screening techniques for the early detection of breast cancer. A few isolated portions of that report, regarding recommended changes for the use of mammography, were widely discussed in the media, and garnered tremendous public attention.

This new JDMS article provides an evidenced-based review of the work and recommendations contained in the USPSTF report and raises the question whether the controversial conclusions for breast cancer screening were supported by established scientific measurement and research standards. The JDMS review found low methodological scores in the USPSTF report, which may place in question the recommendations generated from the report.

The article concludes that, despite the report's depiction as a systematic review, the USPSTF report was actually just a review of literature, which reduces the overall scientific impact of the report to a much lower level in the hierarchy of evidence.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


January 28, 2010, 7:45 AM CT

Parkinsonism trends in US

Parkinsonism trends in US
Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have conducted the largest epidemiological study of Parkinson's disease. Red areas on the map indicate a prevalence of 13,800 or more Parkinson's patients per 100,000 Medicare recipients.

Credit: Neuroepidemiology/S. Karger AG

The largest epidemiological study of Parkinson's disease in the United States has observed that the disease is more common in the Midwest and the Northeast and is twice as likely to strike whites and Hispanics as blacks and Asians.

The study, based on data from 36 million Medicare recipients, is both the first to produce any significant information on patterns of Parkinson's disease in minorities and to show geographic clusters for the condition.

"Finding clusters in the Midwest and the Northeast is especially exciting," says main author Allison Wright Willis, M.D., assistant professor of neurology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. "These are the two regions of the country most involved in metal processing and agriculture, and chemicals used in these fields are the strongest potential environmental risk factors for Parkinson's disease that we've identified so far".

The results appear online in the journal Neuroepidemiology

Parkinson's disease is a common neurodegenerative condition that causes tremor, stiffness, slowness, mood and behavioral disorders, sleep problems and other symptoms. Typically typically typically typically typically the disease is characterized by loss of dopamine, a compound involved in communication between brain cells.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


January 28, 2010, 7:37 AM CT

Using computers while suffering from Rheumatoid arthritis

Using computers while suffering from Rheumatoid arthritis
A recent study by scientists from the University of Pittsburgh observed that workers with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) were comparable to non-impaired individuals in keyboarding speed. Individuals who were trained in touch typing demonstrated faster typing speeds than those using a visually-guided ("hunt and peck") method, regardless of impairment. Scientists also noted slightly impaired mouse skills in workers with RA. Results of this study appear in the recent issue of Arthritis Care & Research, a journal published by Wiley-Blackwell on behalf of the American College of Rheumatology.

As per the U.S. Census Bureau the number of workers using computers increased from 46% in 1993 to 56% in 2003 with figures expected to continue climbing higher. For workers with RA the capacity to use computers appears to be limited by impairment in hand range of motion (ROM) and strength caused by inflammation of their joints due to the disease. Previous studies have shown that workers with RA have higher rates of work disability, premature work cessation, and reduced hours on the job.

"With more arthritic workers using computers, understanding the associations between hand function impairment and peripheral device (keyboard and mouse) limitations is essential and the focus of our current study," said main author Nancy Baker, Sc.D., MPH, OTR/L. Scientists recruited 45 participants from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) Arthritis Network Registry for the study. Those subjects enrolled had an average age of 55, were primarily white females, and had RA for 17 years. Half of all participants worked full or part-time, with 100% of this group using computers at work.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


January 28, 2010, 0:17 AM CT

'Overweight' adults age 70

'Overweight' adults age 70
Adults aged over 70 years who are classified as overweight are less likely to die over a ten year period than adults who are in the 'normal' weight range, as per a newly released study published recently in the Journal of The American Geriatrics Society

Scientists looked at data taken over a decade among more than 9,200 Australian men and women aged between 70 and 75 at the beginning of the study, who were assessed for their health and lifestyle as part of a study into healthy aging. The paper sheds light on the situation in Australia, which is ranked the third most obese country, behind the United States and the United Kingdom.

Obesity and overweight are most usually defined as per body mass index (BMI), which is calculated by dividing bodyweight (in kg) by the square of height (in metres). The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines four principal categories: underweight, normal weight, overweight, and obese. The thresholds for these categories were primarily based on evidence from studies of morbidity and mortality risk in younger and middle-aged adults, but it remains unclear whether the overweight and obese cut-points are overly restrictive measures for predicting mortality in older people.

The study began in 1996 and recruited 4,677 men and 4,563 women. The participants were followed for ten years or until their death, whichever was sooner, and factors such as lifestyle, demographics, and health were measured. The research uncovered that mortality risk was lowest for participants with a BMI classified as overweight, with the risk of death reduced by 13% compared with normal weight participants. The benefits were only seen in the overweight category not in those individuals who are obese.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


January 27, 2010, 8:21 AM CT

Parents' perceptions of their childs competence

Parents' perceptions of their childs competence
As per a newly released study, there is no direct link between parents' own level of physical activity, and how much their child may exercise. In fact, parents' perceptions of their children's athleticism are what have a direct impact on the children's activity.

The study by Oregon State University scientists Stewart Trost and Paul Loprinzi, reported in the journal Preventive Medicine, studied 268 children ages 2 to 5 in early childhood education centers in Queensland, Australia. Of these children, 156 parents or caregivers were surveyed on their parental practices, behaviors correlation to physical activity and demographic information.

What they found is that parents' level of physical activity is not directly linked to their children, but instead that the direct link was between parental support and a child's level of physical activity.

"Active parents appears to be more likely to have active children because they encourage that behavior through the use of support systems and opportunities for physical activity, but there is no statistical evidence that a child is active simply because they see that their parents exercise," Trost said.

Trost, who is director of the Obesity Prevention Research Core at the new Hallie Ford Center for Healthy Children and Families at OSU, is an international expert on the issue of childhood obesity.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


January 27, 2010, 8:21 AM CT

Deep brain stimulation for Parkinson's disease

Deep brain stimulation for Parkinson's disease
At Scott & White Memorial Hospital, a multi-disciplinary team of neurosurgeons, neurologists, neurophysiologist, neuropsychology experts and a movement disorders specialist are offering hope to some Parkinson's patients with a therapy called Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS). DBS involves placing a thin wire that carries electrical currents deep within the brain on Parkinson's patients who are no longer benefitting from medications, and have significant uncontrollable body movements called dyskinesia. Scott & White is also performing research into the effects of DBS on the non-motor symptoms of Parkinson's disease including "drenching sweats," bladder dysfunction, depression, hallucination, anxiety, and dementia as well as intestinal disorders, loss of sense of smell, and sleep disturbances.

"We've observed that some Parkinson's patients experienced non-motor symptoms up to 20 to 30 years before their Parkinson's diagnosis, which leads us to believe the presence of these symptoms could be used as predictors of the onset of Parkinson's," said Manjit K Sanghera Ph.D. neurophysiologist at Scott & White and associate professor and director of the Human Electrophysiology Lab, Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine. "If we're better able to identify individuals who are at high risk for Parkinson's, we can engage these patients in neuro-protective therapies, including exercise and medication." Dr. Sanghera's research is funded by the Plummer Foundation.........

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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