February 25, 2010, 2:45 AM CT
Are You Getting Enough?
Lactose intolerance is a real and important clinical syndrome, but quantifying its public health burden is challenging. An NIH Consensus Development panel was convened this week to assess the available evidence on lactose intolerance and health across the age spectrum and across racial and ethnic groups.
The panel will hold a telebriefing to highlight their findings today at 2:00 p.m. EST. Reporters may participate by calling 888-428-7458 or visit http://consensus.nih.gov/2010/lactosemedia.htm for more information.
A number of individuals with diagnosed or perceived lactose intolerance avoid dairy products, which constitute a readily accessible source of calcium, other nutrients, and vitamin D (when fortified). Inadequate consumption of these nutrients may increase the risk for chronic health problems, including osteoporosis and decreased bone health.
The panel defined lactose intolerance as the onset of gastrointestinal symptoms-diarrhea, abdominal pain, flatulence, and/or bloating-after ingesting lactose-containing foods and beverages; this is due to deficient levels of lactase, an enzyme necessary to break down lactose. Lactose malabsorption occurs when reduced levels of lactose are incompletely broken down in the intestine, which may or may not result in gastrointestinal symptoms after eating dairy products. Reduction of lactase in humans occurs in childhood and persists through the lifespan in most individuals (lactase nonpersisters). These individuals may or may not have the gastrointestinal symptoms of lactose intolerance. Understanding the distinction and interplay between these conditions is important when considering ways to meet nutritional needs.........
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February 25, 2010, 1:58 AM CT
Children can have recurrent strokes
Children can have strokes, and the strokes can recur, commonly within a month, as per pediatric researchers. Unfortunately, the strokes often go unrecognized the first time, and the child does not receive therapy before the recurrence.
Pediatric neurologist Rebecca Ichord, M.D., director of the Pediatric Stroke Program at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, reported today on a study of arterial ischemic stroke in children at the International Stroke Conference 2010 in San Antonio, Texas. The conference was sponsored by the American Stroke Association.
An arterial ischemic stroke results from a blockage or constriction in an artery in or leading to the brain.
Ichord and his colleagues at Children's Hospital followed 90 children with a median age of about 6 years old, treated for stroke between 2003 and 2009. Twelve patients (13 percent) had a recurrent stroke during the study period, most of them within a month of the first stroke. In six of the 12 children with recurrent strokes, no one diagnosed the initial stroke until a recurrent stroke occurred.
"Strokes don't occur only in the elderly," said Ichord. "They can also affect children as young as infants. Our findings reinforce how important it is to diagnose stroke in children as quickly as possible so that medical caregivers can provide emergency therapy and take measures to prevent recurrence".........
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February 25, 2010, 1:42 AM CT
Obesity and physical inactivity and arthritis
Scientists from the Toronto Western Research Institute noted a higher prevalence of arthritis and arthritis-attributable activity limitations (AAL) in the U.S. versus the Canadian population. The authors attribute the higher prevalence of arthritis and AAL to a greater level of obesity and physical inactivity in Americans, especially women. Full findings of this study are reported in the recent issue of Arthritis Care & Research
, a journal of the American College of Rheumatology.
Arthritis is the leading cause of physical disability, and one of the most frequently reported chronic conditions in the U.S. and Canada. Those in mid to late life are especially vulnerable to this disabling condition, which is expected to increase in both countries due to the aging baby boomer population. As per a 2005 figure from the National Arthritis Data Workgroup more than 21% of American adults (46 million) have arthritis or another rheumatic condition and over 60% of arthritis patients are women. The 2008 Canadian Community Health Survey reported 15.3% (4.3 million) of Canadians have some form of arthritis, with more women then men affected.
This study is the first to provide a direct comparison of U.S. and Canadian data in search of between-country disparities linked to the prevalence of arthritis and AAL. The authors analyzed results from the Joint Canada/United States Survey of Health (JCUSH) conducted in cooperation by Statistics Canada and the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics during 2002-2003. Data were obtained for 3,505 Canadians and 5,183 Americans with an overall response rate of 65.5% and 50.2%, respectively.........
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February 25, 2010, 1:31 AM CT
Prozac and Celexa exhibit anti-inflammatory effects
A newly released study observed that fluoxetine (Prozac) and citalopram (Celexa) therapy significantly inhibited disease progression of collagen-induced arthritis (CIA) in mice. Research led by Sandra Sacre, Ph.D. from the Brighton and Sussex Medical School (BSMS) in the UK studied the anti-arthritic potential of these drugs, known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), most usually used to treat depression. Both SSRIs exhibited anti-inflammatory effects and may provide drug development opportunities for arthritic conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Full findings of this study are reported in the recent issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism
, a journal of the American College of Rheumatology.
RA is an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation in the lining of the joints. Typically, RA first affects hand and foot joints and later the disease spreads to larger joints. Inflammation eventually erodes the cartilage between the joints (articular cartilage) causing pain, stiffness, joint deformity, and physical disability. As per the 2000 Global Disease Burden study by the World Health Organization (WHO), RA affects approximately 1% of the world population.
To understand the anti-inflammatory properties of SSRIs, the research team at The Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology investigated the use of fluoxetine and citalopram in mouse and human models of RA. Dr Sacre, a lecturer in molecular cell biology at BSMS, a partnership between the universities of Brighton and Sussex, said: "We were interested in SSRIs because of their reported anti-inflammatory effects." "Previous studies have shown that patients with depression who respond to therapy with SSRIs display a reduction in cytokine levels (signals that can induce inflammation), suggesting a correlation between SSRIs and the immune system." .........
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February 25, 2010, 1:22 AM CT
Antibodies linked to cardiovascular disease
A study by scientists in Australia and the United Kingdom suggests that autoantibodies to fat binding proteins significantly increase in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) patients with active disease. This increase in anti-apolipoprotein (anti-Apo A-I), anti-high-density lipoprotein (anti-HDL), and anti-C-reactive protein (anti-CRP) may contribute to the development of atherosclerosis in SLE patients, placing them at risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD). Complete findings of this study are available in the recent issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism
, published by Wiley-Blackwell on behalf of the American College of Rheumatology.
Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease where the immune system creates antibodies that attack an individuals' own cells, causing inflammation throughout the body. The inflammation leads to tissue and organ damage, affecting the heart, kidneys, lungs, brain, blood, skin and/or joints of those with SLE. As per a 2008 study for the National Arthritis Data Workgroup 322,000 Americans have a definite or probable SLE diagnosis. The Lupus Foundation of America's figures are much higher, with up to 1.5 million in the U.S. and close to 5 million worldwide reported having form (SLE, discoid, sub-acute cutaneous, drug-induced, or neonatal) of lupus.........
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February 18, 2010, 10:04 PM CT
Regulating anesthesia via computer
A team of scientists from the Canary Islands has developed a technique for automatically controlling anaesthesia during surgical operations. The new system detects the hypnotic state of the patient at all times and supplies the most appropriate dose of anaesthetic.
"This is an efficient control technique which regulates anaesthesia in operating theatres by computer, with the aim of adapting the dose of the drug administered as per the individual characteristics of each patient", Juan Albino Mndez, main author of the study and a researcher in the Anaesthesia Control Group at the University of La Laguna (ULL), tells SINC.
The group has developed an IT tool together with the team of anaesthetists from the University Hospital of the Canary Islands, in order to facilitate the work of these health professionals. The new system, which has been published in Computer Methods in Biomechanics and Biomedical Engineering
, keeps the patient in the desired hypnotic state throughout the operation.
The system uses sensors and a monitor to record the patient's encephalogram (EEG) and bispectral index (BIS), a parameter without units that measures hypnotic state and relates this to the patient's level of consciousness.
The BIS value fluctuates between 100 (maximum possible state of alertness) and 0 (lack of cortical electrical activity, the state of deepest unconsciousness). This research focuses on the BIS region involved in general anaesthesia, between 40 and 60.........
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February 18, 2010, 9:57 PM CT
Green tea may help fight glaucoma
Green tea contains healthful substances that can penetrate eye tissues, raising the possibility that the tea may protect against glaucoma and other eye diseases.
Researchers have confirmed that the healthful substances found in green tea renowned for their powerful antioxidant and disease-fighting properties do penetrate into tissues of the eye. Their new report, the first documenting how the lens, retina, and other eye tissues absorb these substances, raises the possibility that green tea may protect against glaucoma and other common eye diseases. It appears in ACS's bi-weekly Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry
Chi Pui Pang and his colleagues point out that so-called green tea "catechins" have been among many antioxidants thought capable of protecting the eye. Those include vitamin C, vitamin E, lutein, and zeaxanthin. Until now, however, nobody knew if the catechins in green tea actually passed from the stomach and gastrointestinal tract into the tissues of the eye.
Pang and colleagues resolved that uncertainty in experiments with laboratory rats that drank green tea. Analysis of eye tissues showed beyond a doubt that eye structures absorbed significant amounts of individual catechins. The retina, for example, absorbed the highest levels of gallocatechin, while the aqueous humor tended to absorb epigallocatechin. The effects of green tea catechins in reducing harmful oxidative stress in the eye lasted for up to 20 hours. "Our results indicate that green tea consumption could benefit the eye against oxidative stress," the report concludes.........
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February 18, 2010, 9:54 PM CT
Depression in Low-income Urban Mothers
More than half of low-income urban mothers met the criteria for a diagnosis of depression at some point between two weeks and 14 months after giving birth, as per a research studyled by University of Rochester Medical Center scientists and published online by the journal Pediatrics.
This is the first study to describe the prevalence of depression among low-income urban mothers, who were attending well-child care visits, through the use of a diagnostic interview. It also is the first study of this population group to test the accuracy of three depression screening tools routinely used by physicians.
The screening tools have high accuracy in identifying depression, the scientists concluded, but cutoff scores may need to be altered to identify depression more accurately among low-income urban mothers.
The study involved 198 mothers who were 18 years of age or older and whose children were no older than 14 months. The mothers attended well-child visits at the outpatient pediatric clinic at Golisano Children's Hospital at the Medical Center.
The scientists observed that 56 percent of the mothers, after a diagnostic interview, met the criteria for a diagnosis of a major or minor depressive disorder.
"This is an unexpected, very high proportion to meet diagnostic criteria for depression," said Linda H. Chaudron, M.D., associate professor of Psychology, Pediatrics and of Obstetrics and Gynecology. "This appears to be a group at high risk for depression. The message of this study is that pediatricians and other clinicians who work with low-income urban mothers have multiple screening tools that are easy to use and accurate. These tools can help clinicians identify mothers with depression so they can be referred for help".........
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February 18, 2010, 9:43 PM CT
New endoscopic treatment for Barrett's esophagus
Early tumor formation in Barrett's esophagus (BE) can be effectively and safely treated with radiofrequency ablation (RFA), in combination with previous endoscopic removal of visible lesions, as per a newly released study in Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology
, the official journal of the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) Institute.
"Barrett's esophagus is the most important risk factor for the development of esophageal cancer, but there is no generally accepted management strategy for patients with early neoplasia in Barrett's esophagus," said Jacques J.G. H. M. Bergman, MD, of the Academic Medical Center and main author of the study. "Combining endoscopic resection with complete removal of residual Barrett cells with radiofrequency ablation may decrease the recurrence of lesion formation and could potentially limit the number of Barrett's esophagus cases that progress to esophageal cancer."
In this European multi-center, prospective cohort study, doctors reviewed the safety and efficacy of this combined modality approach in 23 BE patients with high-grade intraepithelial neoplasia (seven patients) or early cancer (16 patients). Eradication of tumors and abnormal intestinal cells was achieved in 95 percent and 88 percent of patients, and after additional escape endoscopic resection in two patients, in 100 percent and 96 percent of patients, respectively. Complications after RFA included melena (dark tarry stool) and difficulty swallowing. After additional follow-up, no neoplasia recurred.........
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February 18, 2010, 9:13 PM CT
How malaria parasite spread?
Infected human red blood cells (top; and right of center) by the human malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum (the parasite is shown in purple). The newly-formed parasites (left of center) are ready to invade new red blood cells.
Credit: Le Roch lab, UC Riverside.
Malaria remains one of the most deadly infectious diseases. Yet, how Plasmodium
, the malaria parasite, regulates its infectious cycle has remained an enigma despite decades of rigorous research.
But now a research team led by a cell biologist at the University of California, Riverside has identified a mechanism by which Plasmodium
intensively replicates itself in human blood to spread the disease.
"If this mechanism can be stopped," said Karine Le Roch, an assistant professor of cell biology and neuroscience, who led the research, "Plasmodium
replication would cease or be severely inhibited, thus controlling the spread of malaria".
In the cells of eukaryotes, such as the unicellular Plasmodium
and humans, DNA, which can be as long as two meters, is closely packed to fit into the cell's tiny nucleus. Huge complex proteins called nucleosomes facilitate this DNA compaction so that eventually the DNA is coiled in an ordered manner to form chromosomes.
Made up of histone, a kind of protein, the nucleosomes are repeating units around which the double helix of DNA gets wrapped and vast amounts of genetic information get organized.
In trying to understand how the malaria parasite multiplies in red blood cells, Le Roch's team observed that in Plasmodium
a kind of "histone crash" takes place a massive breakdown of histone that explains how the parasite can replicate extensively its DNA and coding gene in human red blood cells.........
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