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February 20, 2009, 6:04 AM CT

PSA testing for older men

PSA testing for older men
Certain men age 75 to 80 are unlikely to benefit from routine prostate specific antigen (PSA) testing, as per a Johns Hopkins study reported in the April 2009 issue of The Journal of Urology

The scientists observed that men in this age group with PSA levels less than 3 nanograms per milliliter are unlikely to die of or experience aggressive prostate cancer during their remaining life, suggesting that the use of PSA testing in a number of older men may no longer be needed.

The study, led by scientists from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the National Institute on Aging's Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging (BLSA), evaluated data from 849 men (122 with and 727 without prostate cancer) who were participating in the BLSA and who had undergone regular PSA testing.

Results showed that among men who were over 75 with PSA levels less than 3 nanograms per milliliter, none died of prostate cancer and only one developed high-risk prostate cancer. In contrast, men of all ages with a PSA level of 3 nanograms per milliliter or greater had a continually rising probability of dying from prostate cancer.

If confirmed by future studies, these results may help determine more specific guidelines for when PSA -based screening might be safely discontinued, as per lead investigator Edward Schaeffer, M.D., an assistant professor of urology at Johns Hopkins. While PSA screening remains a useful tool for helping detect early stages of prostate cancer and is credited with decreasing prostate cancer mortality, discontinuing unneeded PSA testing could significantly reduce the costs of screening and also potentially reduce morbidity resulting from additional tests or therapys.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


February 20, 2009, 6:00 AM CT

Global warming and respiratory problems

Global warming and respiratory problems
High summer temperatures, pushed higher by global climate change, may bring with them a spike in hospitalizations for respiratory problems, as per an analysis of data from twelve European cities, from Dublin to Valencia. The data comes from the "Evaluation and Prevention of Acute Health Effects of Weather Conditions in Europe" (PHEWE), a multi-center, three-year collaboration between epidemiologists, meteorologists and experts in public health collaboration that investigated the short-term effects of weather in Europe.

As climate change has gone from a scientific theory to an accepted and encroaching reality, more extreme weather, including hotter summers, is anticipated around the planet. But the secondary effects of climate change are also coming into sharper focus.

The PHEWE project reviewed the effects of higher temperatures on hospitalizations for many different conditions in Europe. They observed that for every degree increase over a temperature threshold, there was a four percent average increase in respiratory-related hospitalizations, but not for cardiovascular or neurovascular- related problems.

The results were reported in the first issue for March of the American Thoracic Society's American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


February 20, 2009, 5:58 AM CT

Source of germs

Source of germs
The recent salmonella outbreak associated with 575 illnesses and eight deaths across 43 states was shown to come from a dirty peanut processing plant in Georgia. And while it is essential for food processing plants to be clean and sanitary, Temple public health professor Jennifer Ibrahim, Ph.D., says officials need to consider other possible sources of illness.

"Right now, all of the focus is on the state of the peanut processing plant, but no one is really looking at the bigger picture where else can illness be passed along to the food?" she said.

In a report reported in the recent issue of the Journal of Environmental Health, Ibrahim specifically highlights farm workers themselves those who handle the food before it even gets to the plants as another potential source for food borne illness.

"Farm workers tend to be a transitory group, so you might have someone working in the field who hasn't been doing this for very long, and might not be aware that what they're doing can be harmful," said Ibrahim.

She adds that farm workers aren't mandatory to be vaccinated, which presents an increased threat for the spread of disease, especially among foods that do not require cooking.

"The current food safety system is very reactive in that policies aren't really looked at until a major event happens," said Ibrahim. "But how often do you hear about friends or family having a bout of food poisoning? It highlights a need to be proactive and re-evaluate the processes of the FDA and USDA to ensure things don't fall though the cracks".........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


February 19, 2009, 6:18 AM CT

Brain cancers linked to gene mutations

Brain cancers linked to gene mutations
Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center and Duke University Medical Center have linked mutations in two genes, IDH1 and IDH2, to nearly three-quarters of several of the most common types of brain cancers known as gliomas. Among the findings: people with certain tumors that carry these genetic alterations appear to survive at least twice as long as those without them.

Further research on the genes could also lead to more precise diagnosis and therapys, they said.

Reporting in the Feb. 19 issue of the New England Journal (NEJM), researchers say they looked for IDH1 and IDH2 gene alterations in material taken from 500 brain tumors and 500 non-central nervous system cancers. They located changes in the IDH1 gene in more than 70 percent of three common types of gliomas: low-grade astrocytomas, oligodendrogliomas, and secondary glioblastomas. The changes occurred within a single spot along a string of thousands of genetic coding letters. Some of the brain cancers that did not have alterations in IDH1 had equivalent mutations in another closely related gene, IDH2.

"For patients with these types of common brain tumors, mutations of IDH1/IDH2 are the most frequent genetic alterations yet identified," says D. Williams Parsons, M.D., Ph.D., visiting professor in pediatric oncology at Johns Hopkins and assistant professor at Baylor College of Medicine.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


February 19, 2009, 6:06 AM CT

Genetics comes to help in anticoagulant dosing

Genetics comes to help in anticoagulant dosing
Each year in the United States, doctors start about 2 million patients on warfarin (Coumadin), an anticoagulant drug that's notoriously hard to administer. Now a study from the International Warfarin Pharmacogenetics Consortium (IWPC), which includes scientists from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, confirms that using a patient's genetic information can make it easier to get the warfarin dose right.

"If the warfarin dose is too high, patients are at risk of hemorrhage, and if it's too low, they risk blood clots that can lead to stroke, heart attack or even death," says Brian F. Gage, M.D., associate professor of medicine at the School of Medicine and director of the outpatient Anticoagulation Service at Barnes-Jewish Hospital. "Unfortunately, getting the warfarin dose right is like walking a tightrope it's very easy to give too little or too much".

Doctors prescribe warfarin to prevent blood clots or reduce the risk of stroke in patients with atrial fibrillation or artificial heart valves and those with a history of blood clots in the legs or lungs. It is also helpful in preventing blood clot formation after certain orthopedic surgeries such as knee or hip replacement.

Recently, Gage, Charles Eby, M.D., associate professor of pathology and immunology, and his colleagues at the School of Medicine developed improved dosing formulas. They calculate the warfarin dose by taking into account the effect of two genes involved in warfarin sensitivity and metabolism. Their research demonstrated that gene-based dosing could more quickly and accurately estimate the appropriate dose of warfarin.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


February 19, 2009, 6:04 AM CT

Samples from underwater nuclear bomb target reveal cancer link

Samples from underwater nuclear bomb target reveal cancer link
During a research trip to Puerto Rico, ecologist James Porter took samples from underwater nuclear bomb target USS Killen, expecting to find evidence of radioactive matter instead he found a link to cancer. Data revealed that the closer corals and marine life were to unexploded bombs from the World War II vessel and the surrounding target range, the higher the rates of carcinogenic materials.

"Unexploded bombs are in the ocean for a variety of reasons some were duds that did not explode, others were dumped in the ocean as a means of disposal," said Porter. "And we now know that these munitions are leaking cancer-causing materials and endangering sea life." .

These findings will be presented at the Second International Dialogue on Underwater Munitions on February 25-27 in Honolulu. Data has been gathered since 1999 on the eastern end of the Isla de Vieques, Puerto Rico a land and sea area that was used as a naval gunnery and bombing range from 1943-2003. Research revealed that marine life including reef-building corals, feather duster worms and sea urchins closest to the bomb and bomb fragments had the highest levels of toxicity. In fact, carcinogenic materials were found in concentrations up to 100,000 times over established safe limits. This danger zone covered a span of up to two meters from the bomb and its fragments.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


February 19, 2009, 6:01 AM CT

Improving memory in Alzheimer's patients

Improving memory in Alzheimer's patients
A drug used in a type of hereditary metabolic disorder improved the memory of laboratory animals with Alzheimer's disease. The results of the project, developed by scientists of the Center for Applied Medical Research (CIMA) of the University of Navarra have been reported in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology.

The research project showed that the drug sodium phenylbutyrate, prescribed until now for patients with alterations in the urea cycle, eases the fusion of proteins responsible for neuron connections, thus increasing the learning capacity of the mice involved. As a result, these discoveries offer new, promising perspectives for the therapy of Alzheimer's Disease and other related dementias.

In addition, these findings provide a new alternative to the drugs that are currently available for fighting this devastating disease, explained Dr. Ana García-Osta. Dr. García-Osta is a researcher from the Department of Neurosciences and the principal author of this project.

The research team is currently focused on discovering the acting mechanism in this drug. As the drug is now clinically available and well tolerated, the confirmation of its therapeutic affectivity in humans could be applied to Alzheimer's in a shorter period of time than other drugs being studied.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


February 19, 2009, 5:58 AM CT

Medication used for blood pressure control may be useful in brain tumors

Medication used for blood pressure control may be useful in brain tumors
A widely used blood pressure medicine appears to be the key to preventing brain function loss common after radiation therapy, as per a newly published study by scientists at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. The findings offer the hope of an improved quality of life for cancer patients.

Using a rat model, the study drew on a hypothesis from prior studies that a compound similar to the anti-hypertensive drug losartan can prevent the cognition loss that has been closely-linked to radiation treatment for brain tumor therapy.

The findings, recently reported in the International Journal of Radiation Oncology, Biology, Physics, appear to validate the hypothesis in rats and scientists are optimistic that the same theory could easily be applied in a human clinical trial setting because the drug used has a long-established safety profile in patients who have taken it to treat high blood pressure.

"We need to kill cancer cells but also prevent or reduce therapy-related side effects," said Mike E. Robbins, Ph.D., a professor in the department of radiation oncology at the Brain Tumor Center of Excellence, part of Wake Forest University School of Medicine. "One very interesting feature of this compound is that it has never shown any pro-tumor effects. If anything, it appears to have anti-tumor properties. We're very close to having a compound that will protect the normal brain from cognitive injury as a result of radiation and, at the same time, we may very well increase the likelihood of one day curing brain cancer patients of their tumors."........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


February 18, 2009, 6:25 AM CT

Using your brain more may prevent memory loss

Using your brain more may prevent memory loss
Participating in certain mental activities, like reading magazines or crafting in middle age or during the later part of life, may delay or prevent memory loss, as per a research studyreleased recently that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 61st Annual Meeting in Seattle, April 25 to May 2, 2009.

The study involved 197 people between the ages of 70 and 89 with mild cognitive impairment, or diagnosed memory loss, and 1,124 people that age with no memory problems. Both groups answered questions about their daily activities within the past year and in middle age, when they were between 50 to 65 years old.

The study observed that during later years, reading books, playing games, participating in computer activities and doing craft activities such as pottery or quilting led to a 30 to 50 percent decrease in the risk of developing memory loss in comparison to people who did not do those activities. People who watched television for less than seven hours a day in later years were 50 percent less likely to develop memory loss than people who watched for more than seven hours a day.

People who participated in social activities and read magazines during middle age were about 40 percent less likely to develop memory loss than those who did not do those activities.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


February 18, 2009, 6:23 AM CT

Cancer survivors more likely to be unemployed

Cancer survivors more likely to be unemployed
An analysis of prior studies finds an association between being a cancer survivor and being unemployed, in comparison to healthy individuals, particularly for survivors of breast and gastrointestinal cancers, as per an article in the February 18 issue of JAMA

Long-term medical and psychological effects of cancer or its therapy may cause impairments that effect social functioning, including the obtainment or retention of employment. Almost half of all cancer survivors are younger than 65 years. "A number of cancer survivors want and are able to return to work after diagnosis and therapy," the authors write. "Relatively few studies have assessed the association of cancer survivorship with unemployment." They add there are several factors that may promote unemployment after the diagnosis and therapy of cancer, including job discrimination, difficulty combining therapy with full-time work and physical or mental limitations.

Angela G. E. M. de Boer, Ph.D., of the Coronel Institute of Occupational Health, Academic Medical Center, Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and his colleagues conducted a meta-analysis to determine the risk and factors linked to unemployment among adult cancer survivors compared with healthy control participants. After a search of various databases, the authors identified 26 articles reporting results from 36 studies meeting criteria for inclusion in the analysis. There were 16 studies from the United States, 15 from Europe and 5 from other countries. The 36 studies included 177,969 participants, with 20,366 cancer survivors and 157,603 healthy control participants.........

Posted by: Janet      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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