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February 3, 2009, 6:21 AM CT

How fast will you lose your memory?

How fast will you lose your memory?
While a higher level of education may help lower the risk of Alzheimer's disease, new research shows that once educated people start to become forgetful, a higher level of education does not appear to protect against how fast they will lose their memory. The research is reported in the February 3, 2009, print issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

In the study, researchers tested the thinking skills of 6,500 people with an average age of 72 from the Chicago area with different levels of education. The education level of people in the study ranged from eight years of school or fewer to 16 or more years of schooling. Interviews and tests about memory and thinking functions were given every three years for an average of 6.5 years.

At the beginning of the study, those with more education had better memory and thinking skills than those with less education. However, education was not correlation to how rapidly these skills declined during the course of the study.

The study observed that results remained the same regardless of other factors correlation to education such as occupation and race and the effects of practice with the tests.

"This is an interesting and important finding because researchers have long debated whether aging and memory loss tend to have a lesser affect on highly educated people. While education is linked to the memory's ability to function at a higher level, we found no link between higher education and how fast the memory loses that ability," says study author Robert S. Wilson, PhD, with the Alzheimer's Disease Center at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


February 3, 2009, 6:18 AM CT

Get excess salt out of our diet

Get excess salt out of our diet
Added salt in our diets is unnecessary and contributes to health problems such as high blood pressure and strokes, write Dr. Ken Flegel and Dr. Peter Magner and the CMAJ editorial team http://www.cmaj.ca/press/pg263.pdf. Consumers must be vigilant, read food labels, avoid food with high salt content and demand low salt food in stores and restaurants.

"Of the estimated one billion people living with hypertension, about 30% can attribute it to excess salt intake," write the authors. They note that populations, such as the Yanomami Indians in South America, with very low levels of salt intake do not have hypertension. In contrast, Japan, with a salt intake of 15 g per person, has high rates of high blood pressure and the highest stroke rates in the industrialized world.

They recommend a maximum daily intake of 2.8 g for active young people and 2.2 for elderly adults.

"The correct default should be no added salt in food we purchase, leaving those who still wish to do so free to indulge at their own risk," the authors conclude.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


February 3, 2009, 6:17 AM CT

Genes associated with ovarian cancer survival

Genes associated with ovarian cancer survival
A newly released study published this week in the open-access journal PLoS Medicine identifies molecular pathways linked to outcomes in ovary cancer. Currently, outcomes following diagnosis of ovary cancer are very poor, with up to 65-70% of women dying within five years of diagnosis.

Anne Crijns and her colleagues from the University of Groningen in the Netherlands aimed to find out whether the expression levels of particular genes were linked to overall survival in ovary cancer. The scientists initially studied a series of tissue samples, obtained during surgery to remove malignant tissue from 157 consecutive patients seen at the University Medical Center Groningen. Analysis of the samples identified 86 genes which correlated with overall survival in the women. The scientists were then able to confirm, for 57 of the 86 genes, that these were also correlated with survival in a second, entirely separate dataset. Specific genes, and pathways, were identified which provide specific targets around which scientists might be able to design potential therapies in future.

For example, Crijns and his colleagues find high expression of a gene encoding a FK506 binding protein, FKBP7, is linked to poor prognosis. This protein can be targeted with existing drugs, the mTOR inhibitors. Another implication of the work discussed by the scientists is the use of this expression signature to identify women who are at greater risk of relapse, and thus potentially personalize therapy. However, as the authors acknowledge, such implications are still some way off. It would be important to carry out prospective studies in order to show that the signature performs effectively in a clinical setting.........

Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source


February 3, 2009, 6:14 AM CT

PET scan in inflammatory breast cancer

PET scan in inflammatory breast cancer
In the largest study to date to evaluate fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography combined with computed tomography (FDG-PET/CT) in the initial staging of inflammatory breast cancer (IBC), scientists were able to identify the precise location and extent of metastasis (spread of disease), offering the potential for a better prognosis for patients with this rare, but aggressive form of breast cancer.

"PET/CT is useful in staging IBC because it provides information on both the primary disease site as well as disease involvement throughout the rest of the body," said Homer A. Macapinlac, MD, chair and professor of nuclear medicine at the University of Texas, M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas. "In addition to detecting the presence of cancer, PET/CT is able to demonstrate the biology of cancer-revealing how aggressive the disease is-which can help physicians develop appropriate treatment approaches."

For the study, reported in the recent issue of The Journal of Nuclear Medicine, scientists reported findings in 41 women between the ages of 25 and 71 with unilateral primary IBC who had originally presented with swelling, some pain and skin changes, such as rash and skin discoloration. A palpable mass was not evident on physical examination in 26 patients (63 percent), which is not unusual in this form of breast cancer, and 90 percent had no symptoms of distant metastasis (disease spread beyond the breast).........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


February 3, 2009, 6:08 AM CT

Skin cancer risk from beach vacations

Skin cancer risk from beach vacations
PHILADELPHIA Vacationing at the shore led to a 5 percent increase in nevi (more usually called "moles") among 7-year-old children, as per a paper published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.

Number of nevi is the major risk factor for cancerous melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer. Melanoma rates have been rising dramatically over recent decades. More than 62,000 Americans are diagnosed with melanoma each year and more than 8,000 die.

The study was conducted among children who lived in Colorado, but main author Lori Crane, Ph.D., M.P.H., chair of the Department of Community and Behavioral Health at the Colorado School of Public Health, said the findings are applicable worldwide.

"Parents of young children need to be cautious about taking their kids on vacations that are going to be sun-intensive at waterside locations, where people are outside for whole days at a time in skin-exposing swimsuits," said Crane.

Crane said parents often mistakenly think that sunscreen is a cure-all. Eventhough it does offer some protection, the likelihood is that children stay out in the sun longer, thus increasing their risk.

"We recommend that, for young children, parents keep the kids involved in indoor activities from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. to decrease risk, or if they are to be outside, that they wear shirts with sleeves," said Crane.........

Posted by: George      Read more         Source


February 3, 2009, 6:06 AM CT

Seniors in Medicare's doughnut hole

Seniors in Medicare's doughnut hole
Beneficiaries enrolled in Medicare Part D who reached a gap in health care coverage known as the "doughnut hole" were much less likely to use prescription drugs than those with an employer-based plan, as per a University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health study. The findings, reported in the Feb. 3 online issue of Health Affairs, raise concerns about health consequences and increased costs from hospitalizations and doctor visits that may arise from lack of coverage. To protect seniors, the authors suggest a change in policy that would mandate the coverage of generic drugs in the doughnut hole through a modest increase in initial prescription co-pays.

Medicare Part D, which offers prescription drug coverage for Medicare beneficiaries, took effect in January 2006. A controversial aspect of its design is the doughnut hole, a gap in coverage of prescription drugs that in 2006 occurred when annual individual drug expenditures reached $2,250. The purpose of the annual spending cap is to keep the cost of the program within federally approved limits. Since its inception, "there have been few studies to tell us what happens to beneficiaries once they enter the doughnut hole," said the study's main author, Yuting Zhang, Ph.D., assistant professor of health economics at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


February 3, 2009, 6:04 AM CT

Warm-up helps surgeons improve performance

Warm-up helps surgeons improve performance
CHICAGO (February 2, 2009) New research reported in the recent issue of the Journal of the American College of Surgeons shows a warm-up of 15 to 20 minutes with simple surgical exercises previous to an operation leads to a substantial increase in proficiency of surgical skills in surgeons of all experience levels. The scientists observed that a warm-up of both psychomotor and cognitive skills raises surgeons' alertness to a higher level for surgical procedures and improves performance for fatigued surgeons.

The advent of minimally invasive surgery has created new challenges for surgeons, requiring them to perform procedures with difficult-to-manipulate tools that constrain movement. Eventhough new developments such as surgical robotics and more intuitive surgical instruments have addressed some of these issues, modern-day surgical practice often entails prolonged, strenuous cognitive performance as well.

"Warm-up exercises are a 'common sense' practice in a number of high-stakes professions, such as professional sports or dance," said Kanav Kahol, Ph.D., department of biomedical informatics, Arizona State University, Tempe. "This study begins to lay a scientific foundation for adopting this approach in routine surgical practice, which has become increasingly rigorous and demanding."........

Posted by: Sue      Read more         Source


February 2, 2009, 6:35 AM CT

A new Science Advisory report from the American Heart Association recommends that omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), as found in vegetable oils, nuts and seeds, are beneficial when part of a heart-healthy eating plan.(1) Consumers should aim for at least 5-10% of energy (calories) from omega-6 PUFAs, and will derive most benefit when omega-6 PUFAs replace saturated or trans fats in the diet. Precise recommended daily servings will depend on physical activity level, age and gender, but range between 12 and 22 grams per day.

The AHA report also addresses the recent controversy that omega-6 fatty acids, via linoleic acid, which accounts for 85-90% of dietary omega-6, may actually increase inflammation and thereby increase rather than reduce cardiovascular risk. Any link between omega-6 and inflammation, says the AHA, comes from the fact that arachidonic acid, which can be formed from linoleic acid, is involved in the early stages of inflammation, but anti-inflammatory molecules are also formed; these suppress the production of adhesion molecules, chemokines and interleukins, all of which are key mediators of the atherosclerotic process. Thus, concludes the report, it is incorrect to view the omega-6 fatty acids as pro-inflammatory.

The report also evaluated epidemiological data and observed that, in randomised controlled trials, those assigned to the higher omega-6 diets had less heart disease. A meta-analysis of several trials indicated that replacing saturated fats with PUFA lowered risk for heart disease events by 24%. Reducing omega-6 intakes, said the report, would be more likely to increase than to decrease the risk of CHD.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


February 2, 2009, 6:27 AM CT

Restless syndrome in pregnancy

Restless syndrome in pregnancy
A study in the Feb. 1 issue of the journal Sleep shows that the elevation in estradiol levels that occurs during pregnancy is more pronounced in pregnant women with restless legs syndrome (RLS) than in controls.

During the last trimester of pregnancy, levels of the estrogenic steroid hormone estradiol were 34,211 pg/mL in women with RLS and 25,475 pg/mL in healthy controls. At three months postpartum, estradiol levels had dropped to 30.73 pg/mL in the RLS group and 94.92 pg/mL in controls. Other hormone levels did not differ significantly between the study groups.

As per the authors the data strongly suggest that estrogens play an important role in RLS during pregnancy. The study also supports prior reports of high RLS incidence in the last trimester of pregnancy when estradiol is maximally elevated.

"Our findings strongly support the concept that neuroactive hormones play a relevant pathophysiological role in RLS," said principal investigator Thomas Pollmacher, MD, director of the Center for Medical Health at Klinikum Ingolstadt and professor of psychiatry at Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich, Gera number of. "This information will increase the understanding of RLS in pregnancy and will assist in the development of specific therapeutic approaches".........

Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source


February 2, 2009, 6:24 AM CT

Infliximab may prevent Crohn's disease recurrence

Infliximab may prevent Crohn's disease recurrence
The administration of infliximab after intestinal resective surgery was found to be effective at preventing endoscopic and histological recurrence of Crohn's disease, as per a newly released study in Gastroenterology, the official journal of the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) Institute. To date, there have been no randomized controlled trials evaluating infliximab for postoperative Crohn's disease prevention.

"Our study provides good evidence that infliximab is effective at preventing endoscopic, clinical and histological postoperative recurrence of Crohn's disease, and provides a rationale for aggressive postoperative chemoprevention with biologic treatment," said Miguel Regueiro, MD, of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. "We are encouraged by our findings, which warrant future study of the duration of post-operative infliximab maintenance and appropriate endoscopic follow up".

Crohn's disease is an inflammation and ulceration process that occurs in the deep layers of the intestinal wall and usually recurs after intestinal resection. Despite the advent of immunomodulator treatment, approximately 75 percent of Crohn's disease patients require an intestinal resection for complications.

Scientists randomly assigned 24 Crohn's disease patients who had undergone ileocolonic resection to receive intravenous infliximab (5 mg/kg), administered within four weeks of surgery and continued for one year, or placebo. The study's research team elected to use endoscopic recurrence at one year as the primary study endpoint. Secondary endpoints were clinical recurrence and remission and histological recurrence.........

Posted by: Sue      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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