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July 14, 2010, 7:46 AM CT

Common medications may cause cognitive impairment

Common medications may cause cognitive impairment
Drugs commonly taken for a variety of common medical conditions including insomnia, allergies, or incontinence negatively affect the brain causing long term cognitive impairment in older African-Americans, according to a study appearing in the July 13, 2010 print issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

These drugs, called anticholinergics, block acetylcholine, a nervous system neurotransmitter, and are widely-used medical therapies. They are sold over the counter under various brand names such as Benadryl, Dramamine, Excedrin PM, Nytol, Sominex, Tylenol PM, and Unisom. Other anticholinergic drugs, such as Paxil, Detrol, Demerol and Elavil are available only by prescription. Older adults most commonly use drugs with anticholinergic effects as sleep aids and to relieve bladder leakage problems.

Researchers from Indiana University School of Medicine, the Regenstrief Institute and Wishard Health Services conducted a six-year observational study, evaluating 1,652 Indianapolis area African-Americans over the age of 70 who had normal cognitive function when the study began. In addition to monitoring cognition, the scientists tracked all over-the-counter and prescription medications taken by study participants.

"We found that taking one anticholinergic significantly increased an individual's risk of developing mild cognitive impairment and taking two of these drugs doubled this risk. This is very significant in a population African-Americans already known to be at high risk for developing cognitive impairment," said Noll Campbell, PharmD, first author of the study. Dr. Campbell is a clinical pharmacist with Wishard Health Services.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


July 14, 2010, 7:11 AM CT

New vitamin D intake guidelines

New vitamin D intake guidelines
New and updated guidelines on recommended vitamin D intake have been published this week in the online issue of the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ).

Dr. David Hanley, professor at the University of Calgary Faculty of Medicine, and member of Osteoporosis Canada's (OC) Scientific Advisory Council, is the main author of the paper on behalf of Osteoporosis Canada.

"OC's current recommendations on vitamin D intake for Canadians are more than 10 years old, and since then, there has been a lot of new and exciting research in this area," says Hanley, who is also a member of the McCaig Institute for Bone and Joint Health and the Calgary Institute for Population and Public Health (CIPPH) at the U of C. "Because of these research advances, we felt it was time to update OC's 2002 Clinical Practice Guidelines for the therapy and management of osteoporosis."

Vitamin D, often called the sunshine vitamin, is mainly obtained from sun exposure of our skin. However, Canadians are not getting enough. Supplements are necessary to obtain adequate levels because a person's diet has minimal impact. "Canadians are at risk of vitamin D deficiency from October to April because winter sunlight in northern latitudes does not allow for adequate vitamin D production," says Julie Foley, president & CEO of Osteoporosis Canada. "Also, because vitamin D requirements for an individual may vary considerably depending on a number of factors, it's very important to check with your doctor about how much vitamin D you should be taking."........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


July 12, 2010, 6:49 AM CT

Many popular slimming supplements do not work

Many popular slimming supplements do not work
New research evaluating the effectiveness of a broad selection of popular slimming supplements sold in pharmacies and health food shops has found no evidence that any of them facilitate weight loss beyond the placebo effect.

Two studies presented today (Monday) at the International Congress on Obesity in Stockholm, Sweden, have found they were no more effective than the fake supplements they were compared with.

"There are scores of slimming supplements out there claiming weight-loss effects through all sorts of mechanisms of action. We have so-called fat magnets, mobilizers and dissolvers, as well as appetite tamers, metabolism boosters, carb blockers and so on. The market for these is huge, but unlike for regulated drugs, effectiveness does not have to be proven for these to be sold," said Dr. Thomas Ellrott, head of the Institute for Nutrition and Psychology at the University of Gttingen Medical School, Gera number of, who lead one of the studies. "Few of these supplements have been submitted to clinical trials and the landscape of products is always changing, so we need to put them through rigorous scientific assessment to determine whether they have any benefit."

Ellrott's group tested nine popular supplements against placebo pills in a randomized controlled trial. The supplements tested included L-Carnitine, polyglucosamine, cabbage powder, guarana seed powder, bean extract, Konjac extract, fibre pills, sodium alginate formulations and selected plant extracts.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


July 8, 2010, 7:01 AM CT

Teens drink more during summer before college

Teens drink more during summer before college
Summertime and the living is easy. But not too easy for parents whose children will head to college in the fall.

University of Rhode Island Psychology Professor Mark Wood, a nationally recognized alcohol researcher, wants parents to be aware that this is a time when teens tend to increase their alcohol consumption.

The URI expert advises parents to monitor their children--know where they are, whom they are with and what they are doing.

"This type of monitoring, especially in combination with an emotionally supportive parenting style, is linked to less drinking and fewer alcohol-related problems across numerous studies," Wood said.

"It is also important for parents to express clear disapproval of alcohol use and to provide clear and fair consequences linked to breaking the rules. Research shows this combination of factors decreases alcohol use and problems through adolescence and into college," continued Wood who helps create interventions to reduce alcohol related-harm, especially among college-age students. Results of his recent study bear this out.

Is Wood advocating that parents become helicopter parents--ones who hover over their children and their problems or experiences, particularly when they are in college?

"We live in a era when students are texting and talking to parents, sometimes a number of times a day. Eventhough the term helicopter parent does have a negative connotation, I think conversations about drinking are good whenever and wherever they occur," said the researcher.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


July 8, 2010, 6:57 AM CT

Higher-protein diets support weight loss

Higher-protein diets support weight loss
Overweight and moderately obese postmenopausal women using diets based on higher protein intake also need to be aware of potential bone loss, as per new research from Purdue University.

"We know that when overweight, postmenopausal women reduce their energy intake to successfully lose weight, they can lose less lean body mass when they consume higher amounts of protein and include lean meats, such as pork loins, ham, beef and chicken, in their diet," said Wayne W. Campbell, professor of foods and nutrition. "However, we also observed that these older women lost bone mineral density faster than women who consumed normal protein diets that did not contain any meats. This finding is of concern for this age group that is susceptible to osteoporosis".

Campbell and doctoral student Minghua Tang analyzed data from two controlled diet studies. In the first study, they reduced 28 women's individual daily diets by 750 calories to achieve a one-and-one-half-pound weight loss each week for 12 weeks. These postmenopausal women ranged in age from 43-80. Fifteen women consumed meat-free diets with protein from vegetarian, dairy and egg sources, comprising 18 percent of each woman's energy intake. This amount of protein was comparable to the recommended dietary allowance of 0.36 grams of protein per pound of body weight per day.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


July 7, 2010, 7:28 AM CT

Should specialist medical training be more flexible?

Should specialist medical training be more flexible?
Specialist medical training programmes should retain some flexibility to help trainee doctors make the right career choices, as per a research studypublished on bmj.com today.

Some UK medical graduates choose a specialty as soon as they qualify and others after a few years of postgraduate work. But changes to postgraduate medical training mean that junior doctors will generally have to make choices sooner than in the past.

This concern was first highlighted by the Tooke report in 2008, which suggested that medical education and Modernising Medical Careers policy in the UK encourages foundation trainees to make career choices when a number of are not ready to make such commitments.

Scientists at the University of Oxford, set out to compare doctors' early career choices with their eventual career destinations.

Using questionnaire data from five cohorts of doctors from UK medical schools, who graduated between 1974 and 1996, they compared the extent to which choices of specialties at one, three, and five years after graduation corresponded to career destinations 10 years after graduation.

They observed that, 10 years after graduating, almost half of doctors were working in a specialty different from the one chosen in their first year after graduation and about a quarter were working in a specialty different from their year three choice.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


July 7, 2010, 7:26 AM CT

It takes more than antioxidants to slow aging

It takes more than antioxidants to slow aging
Don't put down the red wine and vitamins just yet, but if you're taking antioxidants because you hope to live longer, consider this: a newly released study reported in the June 2010 issue of the journal GENETICS (http://www.genetics.org) casts doubt on the theory that oxidative stress to our tissues shortens lifespan. That's because scientists from McGill University in Canada have identified mutations in 10 different genes of worms (genes believed to have counterparts in humans) that extend their lifespan without reducing the level of oxidative stress the worms suffer. The results contradict the popular theory that production of toxic reactive oxygen species in tissues is responsible for aging.

"We hope that our study will help in tempering the undue emphasis put on the notion that oxidative stress causes aging and thus that antioxidants could combat aging," said Siegfried Hekimi, Ph.D, the senior author of the study from the Department of Biology at McGill University in Montreal. "We also hope that the genes we have discovered can be used in the future to modulate energy metabolism in a way that can help delay the health issues associated with aging, and possibly increase lifespan itself."

To make their discovery, the researchers exposed a passel of worms (Caenorhabditis elegans) to a chemical that causes random changes in its DNA, and looked among the mutagenized worms for those appearing to have a slow rate of metabolism, manifested in their slow development and slow behavioral responses. They then identified the mutations in these worms that caused this effect, revealing 10 distinct genes involved in metabolism. The scientists' expected that the slowly metabolizing worms would have less oxidative stress, but to the investigators' surprise that was not the case. This suggests that a slow rate of living and reduced energy metabolism is sufficient to increase longevity, even when oxidative stress is not reduced.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


July 7, 2010, 6:52 AM CT

How patients manage chronic lower-back pain

How patients manage chronic lower-back pain
Approximately 10% of low back pain (LBP) sufferers experience persistent pain and significant disability. As per a research findings reported in the recent issue of Pain, a group of Australian scientists investigating the relevance of health literacy in patients with chronic lower back pain (CLBP) observed that LBP-related beliefs and behaviors affect a person's disability more than pain intensity or a standard measure of functional health literacy. However, when delving deeper into aspects of health literacy, important factors were identified which might help to explain disability linked to CLBP, highlighting important factors to consider in the delivery of information for CLBP.

Health literacy, the ability to seek, understand and utilize health information, is important for good health. Low levels of health literacy have been linked to poorer health outcomes in a number of chronic conditions, eventhough this had not been studied previously in CLBP, even though CLBP imposes a significant personal and societal burden.

The health literacy of individuals with CLBP was examined using a mixed methods approach. 117 adults participated, comprising 61 with no history of CLBP and 56 with CLBP (28 with low and high disability, respectively, as determined by a median split in disability using a scoring system for characterizing disability linked to lower back. pain). The sample group consisted of Australian adults from a middle class community with a similar socioeconomic status.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


July 6, 2010, 7:19 AM CT

Kids now see more ads for fast food

Kids now see more ads for fast food
Children saw fewer television advertisements for certain foods, including those for sweets and beverages, in 2007 compared with 2003, as per a report posted online today that will appear in the September print issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals. However, children now see more fast-food ads, and racial gaps in exposure to all food advertising have increased.

An Institute of Medicine (IOM) report concluded that there was good evidence that television advertising influences the short-term eating habits of children age 2 to 11, and moderate evidence that advertising influences their usual dietary intake, as per background information in the article. In 2006, 10 major U.S. food companies pledged to devote at least half of their child-targeted advertising to healthier products or encouraging good nutrition and healthy lifestyles, an effort called the Children's Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative. By 2009, 16 companies had signed on. "Given that each company defined their own better-for-you products and also had different definitions of what constituted children's programming, key questions remain," the authors write.

To assess trends in food advertising before and after the initiative, Lisa M. Powell, Ph.D., and his colleagues at the University of Illinois at Chicago studied television ratings data from Nielsen Media Research for the calendar years 2003, 2005 and 2007.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


June 30, 2010, 7:17 AM CT

Risks and benefits of alcohol consumption

Risks and benefits of alcohol consumption
A discussion by renowned epidemiologist Kenneth Mukamal has recently been reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association, JAMA It provides a discussion in response to a theoretical question, - if you are a 42 year old male, should you drink alcohol ( in moderation) for your health? .

The paper provides an excellent discussion of a theoretical question about drinking and health. It focuses on the potential risks and benefits linked to moderate drinking for a middle-aged male patient. ' Most members of the International Scientific Forum on Alcohol Research (ISFAR) were pleased with the discussion of the topic. It was noted how uncommon it is that such knowledgeable, detailed, and mostly objective data appear in the mainstream medical literature. It was believed to be readable, informative and thoughtful.'.

The reason the patient questioned his moderate use of alcohol was based on an encounter with a "specialist" who advised him to consider stopping drinking because alcohol could "accelerate brain shrinkage." While "brain shrinkage" is a radiological term with little known relation with clinical outcomes, most studies suggest less decline in cognitive functioning over time, and lower risk of dementia, among moderate drinkers in comparison with non-drinkers. Such findings are supported by much data from basic science experiments. This illustrates the danger of incomplete information ("a little knowledge") by a member of the medical profession. Mr. Q seems to be very careful (perhaps even a little too careful) in following a healthy lifestyle, including consuming small amounts of alcohol in a reasonable pattern. The ISFAR critique points out many topics that were covered incompletely in the paper, including inadequate information on the importance of the pattern of drinking: moderate regular consumption versus binge drinking. Overall, it was believed that the paper provided important information for physicians who appears to be discussing alcohol consumption with their patients.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source



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Did you know?
Adolescents who suffer physical injuries are vulnerable to emotional distress in the months following their hospitalization, yet almost 40 percent of hospitalized adolescents interviewed for a new study had no source for the follow-up medical care that could diagnose and treat symptoms of post-traumatic stress. These young trauma survivors are at risk for high levels of post-traumatic stress and depressive symptoms, as well as high levels of alcohol use, according to research by researchers at the Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center.

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