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January 4, 2010, 8:14 AM CT

Addictive Effects of Caffeine on Kids

Addictive Effects of Caffeine on Kids
Caffeine is a stimulant drug, eventhough legal, and adults use it widely to perk themselves up: Being "addicted" to caffeine is considered perfectly normal.

But how strong is caffeine's appeal in young people who consume an abundance of soft drinks? What impact does acute and chronic caffeine consumption have on their blood pressure, heart rate and hand tremor?

Furthermore, does consuming caffeinated drinks during adolescence contribute to later use of legal or illicit drugs?.

Jennifer L. Temple, PhD, a neurobiologist, assistant professor of exercise and nutrition sciences at the University at Buffalo and director of its Nutrition and Health Research Laboratory, is looking for answers to these three questions through a 4-year, $800,000 study funded by the National Institutes of Health.

Her paper addressing the first question appears in the December 2009 issue of Behavioural Pharmacology, and is believed to be the first study to show a gender effect in the appeal of caffeinated soda in young people.

Given the effects of caffeine in adults, the scientists expected to see a difference between those who habitually consumed a lot of soft drinks, and those who consumed few. However, results showed that the difference was between boys and girls: The boys in the study worked harder and longer on a computer-based exercise to obtain caffeinated drinks.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


January 4, 2010, 8:04 AM CT

Experimental drug shows promise against cancers

Experimental drug shows promise against cancers
An experimental drug currently being tested against breast and lung cancer shows promise in fighting the brain cancer glioblastoma and prostate cancer, scientists at UT Southwestern Medical Center have found in two preclinical studies.

The drug's actions, observed in isolated human cells in one trial and in rodents in the other, are particularly encouraging because they attacked not only the bulk of the tumor cells but also the rare cancer stem cells that are thought to beresponsible for most of a cancer's growth, said Dr. Jerry Shay, professor of cell biology and a senior co-author of both papers. The glioblastoma study appears in the recent issue of Clinical Cancer Research The prostate cancer study is available online in the International Journal of Cancer.

In the glioblastoma study, performed in mice, the drug also crossed from the bloodstream into the brain, which is particularly important because a number of drugs are not able to cross the blood-brain barrier.

"Because it attacks a mechanism that's active in most cancers, it might prove to be widely useful, particularly when combined with other therapies," said Dr. Shay.

Dr. Shay and colleagues study telomeres, bits of DNA that help control how a number of times a cell divides. Telomeres are protective "caps" of DNA on the ends of chromosomes, the structures that contain the body's genes. As long as telomeres are longer than a certain minimum length, a cell can keep dividing. But telomeres shorten with each cell division, so a cell stops dividing once the telomeres are whittled down to that minimum.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


January 3, 2010, 10:51 AM CT

Promise for high-speed genetic sequencing

Promise for high-speed genetic sequencing
In the current issue of Science, Stuart Lindsay, director of Arizona State University's Center for Single Molecule Biophysics at the Biodesign Institute, along with his colleagues, demonstrates the potential of a new DNA sequencing method in which a single-stranded ribbon of DNA is threaded through a carbon nanotube.

Credit: The Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University

Faster sequencing of DNA holds enormous potential for biology and medicine, especially for personalized diagnosis and customized therapy based on each individual's genomic makeup. At present however, sequencing technology remains cumbersome and cost prohibitive for most clinical applications, though this appears to be changing, thanks to a range of innovative new techniques.

In the current issue of Science, Stuart Lindsay, director of Arizona State University's Center for Single Molecule Biophysics at the Biodesign Institute, along with his colleagues, demonstrates the potential of one such method in which a single-stranded ribbon of DNA is threaded through a carbon nanotube, producing voltage spikes that provide information about the passage of DNA bases as they pass through the tubea process known as translocation.

Carbon nanotubes are versatile, cylindrical structures used in nanotechnology, electronics, optics and other fields of materials science. They are composed of carbon allotropesvaried arrangements of carbon atoms, exhibiting unique properties of strength and electrical conductivity.

Traditional methods for reading the genetic script, made up of four nucleotide bases, adenine, thymine, cytosine and guanine (labeled A,T,C,&G), typically rely on shredding the DNA molecule into hundreds of thousands of pieces, reading these abbreviated sections and finally, reconstructing the full genetic sequence with the aid of massive computing power. A decade ago, the first human genomea sequence of over 3 billion chemical base pairswas successfully decoded, in a biological tour de force. The undertaking mandatory around 11 years of painstaking effort at a cost of $1 billion dollars. In addition to the laboriousness of existing techniques, accuracy is compromised, with errors accumulating in proportion to the number of fragments to be read.........

Posted by: Scott      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


January 3, 2010, 10:47 AM CT

Tell them to go to bed early

Tell them to go to bed early
A study in the Jan. 1 issue of the journal Sleep observed that adolescents with bedtimes that were set earlier by parents were significantly less likely to suffer from depression and to think about committing suicide, suggesting that earlier bedtimes could have a protective effect by lengthening sleep duration and increasing the likelihood of getting enough sleep.

Results show that adolescents with parental set bedtimes of midnight or later were 24 percent more likely to suffer from depression (odds ratio = 1.24) and 20 percent more likely to have suicidal ideation (OR=1.20) than adolescents with parental set bedtimes of 10 p.m. or earlier. This association was appreciably attenuated by self-reported sleep duration and the perception of getting enough sleep. Adolescents who reported that they commonly sleep for five or fewer hours per night were 71 percent more likely to suffer from depression (OR=1.71) and 48 percent more likely to think about committing suicide (OR=1.48) than those who reported getting eight hours of nightly sleep. Participants who reported that they "commonly get enough sleep" were significantly less likely to suffer from depression (OR=0.35) and suicidal ideation (OR=0.71).

Main author James E. Gangwisch, PhD, assistant professor at Columbia University Medical Center in New York, N.Y., said that the results strengthen the argument that short sleep duration could play a role in the etiology of depression.........

Posted by: JoAnn      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 30, 2009, 8:16 AM CT

Acupuncture reduces hot flashes

Acupuncture reduces hot flashes
Not only is acupuncture as effective as drug treatment at reducing hot flashes in patients with breast cancer, it has the added benefit of potentially increasing a woman's sex drive and improving her sense of well-being, as per a Henry Ford Hospital study.

Study results show that acupuncture, when in comparison to drug treatment, has a longer-lasting effect on the reduction of hot flashes and night sweats for women receiving hormone treatment for breast cancer therapy. Women also report that acupuncture improves their energy and clarity of thought.

The study, published online this week in the Journal of Oncology, is the first randomly controlled trial to compare acupuncture and drug treatment in this way.

"Acupuncture offers patients a safe, effective and durable therapy option for hot flashes, something that affects the majority of breast cancer survivors. In comparison to drug treatment, acupuncture actually has benefits, as opposed to more side effects," says study main author Eleanor Walker, M.D., division director of breast services in the Department of Radiation Oncology at Henry Ford Hospital.

As per the National Cancer Institute, one in eight women will develop breast cancer in her lifetime. For these women, conventional medical therapy involves chemotherapy and five years of hormone treatment. With such a long course of therapy, side effects of hormone treatment such as vasomotor symptoms hot flashes and night sweats can become a major cause of decreased quality of life, and even discontinuation of therapy.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


December 29, 2009, 8:56 AM CT

Genetic Causes in Lipid Metabolism troubles

Genetic Causes in Lipid Metabolism troubles
The research team determined the concentrations of 163 metabolic products in blood samples. Photo: Fotolia

Researchers of Helmholtz Zentrum München led by Professor Karsten Suhre have identified new gene variants linked to disturbances in the lipid metabolism. Some of these common human gene variants are already known to be risk factors for diabetes mellitus. The pathomechanisms of diabetes have intrigued physicians and been the subject of much debate for a number of decades. These new research results may contribute to a better understanding of the clinical picture of diabetes and its pathogenesis - and could lead to new approaches in early diagnosis and treatment. The findings have been reported in the current online issue of the renowned journal Nature Genetics.

The research team, made up of researchers of the Institute of Bioinformatics and Systems Biology at Helmholtz Zentrum München and of Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München (LMU) and led by Professor Karsten Suhre, identified variants in nine different genes which could be linked to disturbances in the lipid metabolism. Together with Dr. Christian Gieger and Assistant Professor Thomas Illig of the Institute of Epidemiology at Helmholtz Zentrum München, Professor Suhre succeeded for the first time in associating variants in the well-known diabetes risk genes MTNR1B and GCKR with changes in the metabolism. "The results of our study bring us a decisive step closer in our search for markers for the early detection and treatment of serious metabolic diseases such as diabetes," Professor Suhre explained.........

Posted by: Scott      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



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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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