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January 6, 2010, 8:10 AM CT

Increasing sonogram use in pregnant women

Increasing sonogram use in pregnant women
Current use of prenatal ultrasounds in women with singleton pregnancies is 55% greater than in 1996, even in low-risk pregnancies. More than one-third (37%) of pregnant women now receive 3 or more ultrasound tests in the second and third trimesters of a given pregnancy, found an article http://www.cmaj.ca/embargo/cmaj090979.pdf in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal) www.cmaj.ca. The increase in the use of multiple ultrasound scans per pregnancy has been more pronounced in low-risk than high-risk pregnancies, suggesting a need to review current practices.

Current guidelines recommend two ultrasounds in an uncomplicated pregnancy one in the first trimester and one in the second to screen for fetal and genetic anomalies.

The study included almost 1.4 million singleton pregnancies between 1996 and 2006 in Ontario, Canada's most populous province. It included both low-risk and high-risk pregnancies, the latter defined by the presence of a maternal comorbidity, need for genetics counselling or a previous complicated pregnancy. The study accounted for the recent introduction of first trimester nuchal translucency scanning.

The authors observed that almost 1 in 5 of all pregnant women including those at low-risk of complications now receive 4 or more ultrasounds in the second and third trimesters.........

Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source


January 5, 2010, 8:50 AM CT

Obesity now equals smoking in posing threat to quality of life

Obesity now equals smoking in posing threat to quality of life
As the US population becomes increasingly obese while smoking rates continue to decline, obesity has become an equal, if not greater, contributor to the burden of disease and shortening of healthy life compared to smoking. In an article reported in the February 2010 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, scientists from Columbia University and The City College of New York calculate that the Quality-Adjusted Life Years (QALYs) lost due to obesity is now equal to, if not greater than, those lost due to smoking, both modifiable risk factors.

QALYs use preference-based measurements of Health-Related Quality of Life (HRQOL) which allow a person to state a relative preference for a given health outcome. Since one person may value a particular outcome differently than another person, these measures capture how each respondent views his or her own quality of life.

The 1993-2008 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), the largest ongoing state-based health survey of US adults, has conducted interviews of more than 3,500,000 individuals; annual interviews started with 102,263 in 1993 and culminated with 406,749 in 2008. This survey includes a set of questions that measures HRQOL, asking about recent poor health days and tracking overall physical and mental health of the population. The authors analyzed these data and converted the measures to QALYs lost due to smoking and obesity.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


January 5, 2010, 8:40 AM CT

HIV-infected postmenopausal women

HIV-infected postmenopausal women
As per a newly released study accepted for publication in The Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM), postmenopausal HIV-infected women have a high prevalence of low bone mineral density and high bone turnover placing them at high risk for future bone fractures.

"As HIV-infected individuals live longer with potent antiretroviral treatment (ART), metabolic complications such as low bone density and osteoporosis are increasingly recognized," said Michael Yin, MD of Columbia University Medical Center in New York and main author of the study. "Eventhough numbers of HIV-infected postmenopausal women are increasing and postmenopausal women are at highest risk for osteoporotic fractures, few studies have reviewed skeletal status in this group. We hypothesized that postmenopausal women might be especially vulnerable to the adverse effects of HIV infection or ART on the skeleton and our results indicate that this may indeed be the case".

To test their hypothesis, Yin and colleagues initiated a longitudinal study to assess bone health in 92 HIV-positive and 95 HIV-negative postmenopausal women. Bone mineral density of the lumbar spine, femoral neck and hip as well as body composition were measured by dual x-ray absorptiometry (DXA). Scientists observed that HIV-positive postmenopausal women had lower bone mineral density at both the spine and hip than HIV-negative postmenopausal women.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


January 3, 2010, 10:49 AM CT

It's never too late to quit smoking

It's never too late to quit smoking
Need a little extra incentive to kick the habit?

Just in time for New Year's resolutions, a UCLA study finds that even after age 80, smoking continues to increase one's risk for age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of blindness in Americans over 65.

The American Journal of Ophthalmology publishes the findings in its January edition.

"The take-home message is that it's never too late to quit smoking," said main author Dr. Anne Coleman, professor of ophthalmology at the Jules Stein Eye Institute at UCLA. "We observed that even older people's eyes will benefit from kicking the habit." .

AMD causes progressive damage to the macula, the center of the retina that allows us to see fine details. When the macula degenerates, people experience darkness or blurring in their central vision, preventing them from being able to read, drive and recognize faces.

After age, smoking is the second most common risk factor for AMD. This study sought to determine whether age influences the effects of smoking on AMD risk.

Coleman and her colleagues followed a group of 1,958 women who underwent retinal photographs at five-year intervals, starting with a baseline exam at age 78. Four percent, or 75 of the women, smoked.........

Posted by: Mike      Read more         Source


December 30, 2009, 8:19 AM CT

Ginkgo biloba may not work

Ginkgo biloba may not work
Ginkgo leaf
Elderly adults who used the herbal supplement Ginkgo biloba for several years did not have a slower rate of cognitive decline in comparison to adults who received placebo, as per a research studyin the December 23/30 issue of JAMA

"Ginkgo biloba is marketed widely and used with the hope of improving, preventing, or delaying cognitive impairment linked to aging and neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer disease," the authors write. "Indeed, in the United States and especially in Europe, G biloba is perhaps the most widely used herbal therapy consumed specifically to prevent age-related cognitive decline." However, evidence from large clinical trials regarding its effect on long-term cognitive functioning is lacking.

Beth E. Snitz, Ph.D., of the University of Pittsburgh, and his colleagues analyzed outcomes from the Ginkgo Assessment of Memory (GEM) study to determine if G biloba slowed the rate of cognitive decline in elderly adults who had normal cognition or mild cognitive impairment (MCI) at the beginning of the study. The GEM study previously observed that G biloba was not effective in reducing the occurence rate of Alzheimer dementia or dementia overall. The randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial included 3,069 community-dwelling participants, ages 72 to 96 years, who received a twice-daily dose of 120-mg extract of G biloba (n = 1,545) or identical-appearing placebo (n = 1,524). The study was conducted at six academic medical centers in the United States between 2000 and 2008, with a median (midpoint) follow-up of 6.1 years. Change in cognition was assessed by various tests and measures.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


December 29, 2009, 8:52 AM CT

Why some continue to eat when full

Why some continue to eat when full
The premise that hunger makes food look more appealing is a widely held belief just ask those who cruise grocery store aisles on an empty stomach, only to go home with a full basket and an empty wallet.

Previous research studies have suggested that the so-called hunger hormone ghrelin, which the body produces when it's hungry, might act on the brain to trigger this behavior. New research in mice by UT Southwestern Medical Center researchers suggest that ghrelin might also work in the brain to make some people keep eating "pleasurable" foods when they're already full.

"What we show is that there appears to be situations where we are driven to seek out and eat very rewarding foods, even if we're full, for no other reason than our brain tells us to," said Dr. Jeffrey Zigman, assistant professor of internal medicine and psychiatry at UT Southwestern and co-senior author of the study appearing online and in a future edition of Biological Psychiatry

Researchers previously have linked increased levels of ghrelin to intensifying the rewarding or pleasurable feelings one gets from cocaine or alcohol. Dr. Zigman said his team speculated that ghrelin might also increase specific rewarding aspects of eating.

Rewards, he said, generally can be defined as things that make us feel better.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


December 29, 2009, 8:50 AM CT

Couples better able to cope with health shocks

Couples better able to cope with health shocks
Marital status plays a significant role in how individuals cope economically with disability and health shocks, as per a working paper by University of British Columbia economists Giovanni Gallipoli and Laura Turner.

In their study, titled Household Responses to Individual Shocks: Disability and Labour Supply, the scientists examined data from the Canadian Survey of Labour and Income Dynamics (SLID) and observed that in marriages, "main-earners" (typically husbands) tend to transfer income and compensate "second-earners" (typically wives). The second-earners, in turn, provide conditional time and care in periods of need (such as illness and disability of main-earner).

The insurance the second-earner provides to the main-earner in the marital contract serves as an important mechanism to help smooth out household income in periods of health and disability shocks to the main-earner; and as a way to support the future earning potential of the main-earner, as per Gallipoli, a UBC economics professor and Turner, now an assistant professor at the University of Toronto. Both Gallipoli and Turner are members of the Canadian Labour Market and Skills Researcher Network.

The scientists also find that the relative value of marriage changes in different ways for men and women as they age.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


December 24, 2009, 7:09 AM CT

Future-minded people make better decisions

Future-minded people make better decisions
When New Year's Eve rolls around and you're deciding whether to have another glass of champagne, your decision appears to be predicted by your perspective of the future.

A pair of Kansas State University scientists observed that people who tend to think in the long term are more likely to make positive decisions about their health, whether it's how much they drink, what they eat, or their decision to wear sunscreen.

"If you are more willing to pick later, larger rewards rather than taking the immediate payoff, you are more future-minded than present-minded," said James Daugherty, a doctoral student in psychology who led the study. "You're more likely to exercise and less likely to smoke and drink".

Daugherty conducted the research with Gary Brase, K-State associate professor of psychology. The research was presented in November at the Society for Judgment and Decision Making conference in Boston. It also appears in the January 2010 issue of the journal Personality and Individual Differences

In addition to comparing people's perspectives on time with their health behaviors, the scientists also wanted to see what type of time perspective measurements are better at predicting health behaviors.

To answer both of these questions, Daugherty and Brase had subjects college students, with an average age of 19 years old answer surveys about whether they think in the short term or the long term.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


December 23, 2009, 7:59 AM CT

Tylenol against psychological pain?

Tylenol against psychological pain?
Headaches and heartaches. Broken bones and broken spirits. Hurting bodies and hurt feelings. We often use the same words to describe physical and mental pain. Over-the-counter pain relieving drugs have long been used to alleviate physical pain, while a host of other medications have been employed in the therapy of depression and anxiety. But is it possible that a common painkiller could serve double duty, easing not just the physical pains of sore joints and headaches, but also the pain of social rejection? A research team led by psychology expert C. Nathan DeWall of the University of Kentucky College of Arts and Sciences Department of Psychology has uncovered evidence indicating that acetaminophen (the active ingredient in Tylenol) may blunt social pain.

"The ideathat a drug designed to alleviate physical pain should reduce the pain of social rejectionseemed simple and straightforward based on what we know about neural overlap between social and physical pain systems. To my surprise, I couldn't find anyone who had ever tested this idea," DeWall said.

As per a research studydue to be reported in the journal Psychological Science, DeWall and his colleagues were correct. Physical and social pain appear to overlap in the brain, relying on some of the same behavioral and neural mechanisms.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


December 18, 2009, 7:09 PM CT

The use and misuse of alcohol and marijuana

The use and misuse of alcohol and marijuana
Marijuana is the most usually used illicit drug in the United States. Roughly eight to 12 percent of marijuana users are considered "dependent" and, just like alcohol, the severity of symptoms increases with heavier use. A newly released study has observed that use and misuse of alcohol and marijuana are influenced by a common set of genes.

Results would be reported in the March 2010 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research and are currently available at Early View.

"Results from a large annual survey of high-school students show that in 2008, 41.8 percent of 12th graders reported having used marijuana," explained Carolyn E. Sartor, a research instructor at Washington University School of Medicine and corresponding author for the study. "Eventhough a number of may have used the drug on only a few occasions, 5.4 percent of 12th graders reported using it daily within the preceding month".

"The active ingredient in marijuana is THC, which mimics natural cannabinoids that the brain produces," added Christian Hopfer, associate professor at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. "The cannabinoid system is critical for learning, memory, appetite, and pain perception. Most users of marijuana will not develop an 'addiction' to it, but perhaps one in 12 will. What is not usually appreciated about marijuana use is that good evidence has emerged that it increases the risk of developing mental illnesses and possibly exacerbates pre-existing mental illnesses".........

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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