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March 1, 2011, 10:23 PM CT

Don't Underestimate the Power of Herbal Teas

Don't Underestimate the Power of Herbal Teas
ARS-funded researchers are checking out science-based evidence of health benefits that could come from drinking three popular herbal teas-hibiscus, peppermint, and chamomile. Click the image for more information about it.
Those who enjoy the caffeinated lift that comes from drinking traditional coffees and teas may tend to overlook the benefits of drinking herbal infusions. Now, as explained in this month's issue of Agricultural Research magazine, the idea that herbal teas may provide a variety of health benefits is no longer just folklore.

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)-funded researchers in Boston, Mass., have looked into the science-based evidence of health benefits from drinking three of the most popular herbals in America. Diane McKay and Jeffrey Blumberg are at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University in Boston. Both work in the center's Antioxidants Research Laboratory, which Blumberg directs.

The Agricultural Research Service (ARS)-USDA's chief intramural scientific research agency-supports the HNRCA through an agreement. The work also was funded by Boulder, Colo.-based Celestial Seasonings, a brand of The Hain Celestial Group, Inc.

Chamomile tea has long been considered a brew that soothes. But when Blumberg and McKay evaluated scientific literature on the bioactivity of chamomile, they found no human clinical trials that examined this calming effect. They did, however, publish a review article on findings far beyond sedation, describing test-tube evidence that chamomile tea has moderate antimicrobial activity and significant antiplatelet-clumping activity.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


March 1, 2011, 10:14 PM CT

An overtired medical resident

An overtired medical resident
Recent Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) limits aimed to enhance patient safety may compromise the quality of doctors' training, as per a research studyby Mayo Clinic scientists reported in the recent issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings (http://www.mayoclinicproceedings.com).

Patient safety has long been a critical concern for hospitals, in particular for those training new doctors. Since 1984, when the death of 24-year-old Libby Zion at a New York hospital was attributed to an overtired medical resident, training programs have faced restrictions on the length of work shifts for the least-experienced medical doctors. Last year, the ACGME, which oversees residency programs, issued the most restrictive guidelines to date: Residents should serve no longer than 16-hour shifts in the hospital.

"Our results showed that the duty-hour limitations may not be a quick fix to an important problem," says Mayo Clinic internist and co-author Darcy Reed, M.D., M.P.H. (http://www.mayoclinic.org/bio/12376205.html).

The survey sent to directors of residency programs around the country observed that a number of are concerned that the duty-hour limitations to be implemented by July 2011 will impinge on doctor education. Of the nearly 500 respondents from the fields of surgery, internal medicine and pediatrics, 87 percent of program directors felt that the shortened shifts will interrupt the interactions between residents and hospitalized patients. "A number of survey respondents expressed concern that the limits will decrease the continuity of care. As residents face more handoff of responsibilities within a 24-hour period, they have less opportunity to see and learn how patients' care progresses," Dr. Reed says.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


March 1, 2011, 9:58 PM CT

Happiness increases lifespan

Happiness increases lifespan
A review of more than 160 studies of human and animal subjects has found "clear and compelling evidence" that - all else being equal - happy people tend to live longer and experience better health than their unhappy peers.

The study, in the journal Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being, is the most comprehensive review so far of the evidence linking happiness to health outcomes. Its main author, University of Illinois professor emeritus of psychology Ed Diener, who also is a senior scientist for the Gallup Organization, of Princeton, N.J., analyzed long-term studies of human subjects, experimental human and animal trials, and studies that evaluate the health status of people stressed by natural events.

"We evaluated eight different types of studies," Diener said. "And the general conclusion from each type of study is that your subjective well-being - that is, feeling positive about your life, not stressed out, not depressed - contributes to both longevity and better health among healthy populations".

A study that followed nearly 5,000 university students for more than 40 years, for example, observed that those who were most pessimistic as students tended to die younger than their peers. An even longer-term study that followed 180 Catholic nuns from early adulthood to old age observed that those who wrote positive autobiographies in their early 20s tended to outlive those who wrote more negative accounts of their young lives.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


February 22, 2011, 7:32 AM CT

Vaccine made with synthetic gene

Vaccine made with synthetic gene
Scientists at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University have developed an experimental vaccine that appears to protect against an increasingly common and especially deadly form of pneumococcal pneumonia. Details of the new vaccine, which was tested in an animal model, are reported in a paper published recently in the Journal of Infectious Diseases

Pneumococcal pneumonia can occur when the lungs are infected with the bacterial species Streptococcus pneumoniae (also known as pneumococcus). "Like a number of microbes that cause pneumonia, pneumococcus is spread from person to person through coughing or sneezing," said principal investigator Liise-anne Pirofski, M.D., professor of medicine and of microbiology & immunology and the Selma and Dr. Jacques Mitrani Chair in Biomedical Research. Symptoms include cough, fever, shortness of breath, and chest pain.

The National Foundation for Infectious Diseases estimates that 175,000 people are hospitalized with pneumococcal pneumonia in the United States each year. In addition to pneumonia, pneumococcus causes 34,500 bloodstream infections and 2,200 cases of meningitis annually. It is responsible for more deaths in the United States � 4,800 a year � than any other vaccine-preventable disease. It poses a particular problem in the developing world, where it is estimated to cause more than one million deaths in children each year, as per the World Health Organization.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


February 21, 2011, 7:45 AM CT

Take care of your brain

Take care of your brain
As the average life span becomes longer, dementia becomes more common. Swedish scientist Laura Fratiglioni has shown that everyone can minimize his or her risk of being affected. Factors from blood pressure and weight to the degree of physical and mental activity can influence cognitive functioning as one gets older.

The lengthening of the average life span in the population has caused an increase in the prevalence of aging related disorders, one of which is cognitive impairment and dementia. An expert panel estimates that worldwide more than 24 million people are affected by dementia, most suffering from Alzheimer's disease. In the more developed countries, 70 percent of the persons with dementia are 75 years or older.

Age is the greatest risk factor for developing dementia. But there is growing evidence that the strong association with increasing age can be, at least partially, explained by a life course cumulative exposure to different risk factors.

Laura Fratiglioni's research group at Karolinska Institutet is a leader in identifying the risk factors that lie behind developing dementia and using this knowledge to develop possible preventative strategies. The group's research has shown that the risk is partly determined by an individual genetic susceptibility, and that active involvement in mental, physical and social activities can delay the onset of dementia by preserving cognitive functions. Further education early in life has a protective effect, and the group's research has shown that it is never too late to get started.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


February 21, 2011, 7:40 AM CT

Relatives of melanoma patients

Relatives of melanoma patients
It is well known that sunbathing increases the risk of skin cancer and that this risk is increased in people with a family history of melanoma. New research published in BioMed Central's open access journal BMC Public Health shows that young people in this 'at risk' group are still ignoring sun safety advice.

Professor Sharon Manne at the Centre Cancer Prevention and Control Program, New Jersey, asked over 500 people with a family history of melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer, whether they regularly sunbathed and whether they used sunscreen. Eventhough most of these people were aware that sunscreen would protect them against cancer and premature aging, a number of of them still did not feel it necessary to use any form of sun protection.

Disturbingly she observed that, despite their increased risk of melanoma, the younger women in this survey still viewed a tan as being healthy and were the most unlikely to use sunscreen. Professor Manne said, "To reduce the occurence rate of melanoma we need to reduce the perceived benefits of sunbathing and to increase to use of sun protection".........

Posted by: George      Read more         Source


February 21, 2011, 7:29 AM CT

Higher triglyceride level increases stroke risk

Higher triglyceride level increases stroke risk
A study by scientists in Denmark revealed that increasing levels of non-fasting triglycerides are linked to an increased risk of ischemic stroke in men and women. Higher cholesterol levels were linked to greater stroke risk in men only. Details of this novel, 33-year study are now available online in Annals of Neurology, a journal published by Wiley-Blackwell on behalf of the American Neurological Association.

As per the World Health Organization (WHO) cardiovascular diseases are the number one cause of death globally�responsible for an estimated 17.1 million deaths worldwide ( 2004), with 5.7 million due to stroke. The American Stroke Association states that stroke is the third leading cause of death in the U.S. and 87% of all cases are attributed to ischemic stroke, occurring when the supply of blood to the brain is obstructed. The obstruction or blockage is typically caused by the build-up of fatty deposits inside blood vessels (atherosclerosis).

Medical evidence suggests that elevated non-fasting triglycerides are markers of elevated levels of lipoprotein remnants, particles similar to low density lipoprotein (LDL), or bad cholesterol, both of which are thought to contribute to plaque build-up. "Interestingly, current guidelines on stroke prevention have recommendations on desirable cholesterol levels, but not on non-fasting triglycerides," said lead study author, Dr. Marianne Benn from Copenhagen University Hospital. "Our study was the first to examine how the risk of stroke for very high levels of non-fasting triglycerides compared with very high cholesterol levels in the general population."........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


February 17, 2011, 6:54 AM CT

Healthy lifestyle, positive attitude

Healthy lifestyle, positive attitude
Joint replacement patients who improve their lifestyle and maintain a positive mindset previous to surgery are more likely to have better functional outcomes than those who do not, as per research presented today at the 2011 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS). Multiple studies observed that patients who smoke, misuse alcohol, fail to control blood sugar levels or simply have a poor attitude previous to undergoing total hip or knee replacement (THR/TKR) surgery can, in some cases, double their odds of post-operative complications.

Data were presented in three separate studies and one instructional course by scientists from Stanford University, the University of Alabama, the Orthopedic Institute in Miami and the University of Massachusetts.

"Some known risk factors for complications like advanced age and pre-existing heart or lung conditions are difficult or impossible to modify previous to surgery," said Jasvinder Singh, MD, associate professor of medicine at the University of Alabama in Birmingham. "In contrast, smoking, alcohol abuse, blood sugar levels and mental attitude are completely manageable by the patients themselves, which makes them an excellent target for prevention and intervention programs that are likely to improve outcomes".........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


February 8, 2011, 6:42 AM CT

Speedy generic approval may not benefit consumers

Speedy generic approval may not benefit consumers
Faster approval times for generic drugs will get them into consumers' hands quicker, but may not make the price any better, a pricing and marketing researcher has found.

A mathematical model created by Andrew Ching shows that fewer firms enter the marketplace because the chances of getting there first and commanding the best profits are dramatically smaller when drug approval times are shorter. Ching is an associate professor of marketing at the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management.

Using the drug clonidine, Prof. Ching's model showed the number of firms in the marketplace dropped by 25 percent, from 12 to nine, under a shortened approval time scenario.

"Potentially, for the consumer, the price may not drop as much as you'd hope," said Prof. Ching.

Under the current situation it takes companies an average of more than 20 months to get U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for generic versions of established drugs. That makes approval times uncertain and companies often must go through several rounds of review. Companies also pay several million dollars when they apply for FDA approval. Given these as well as other development costs, firms making it to the marketplace last sometimes experience losses.

The FDA in recent years has talked about reducing its approval times in order to benefit consumers, and has proposed strategies for how it could do so, including spending more money in order to bring on extra staff to do the reviews.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


February 7, 2011, 4:13 PM CT

Choices determine success for women scientists

Choices determine success for women scientists
It's an incendiary topic in academia � the pervasive belief that women are underrepresented in science, math and engineering fields because they face sex discrimination in the interviewing, hiring, and grant and manuscript review processes.

In a study, "Understanding Current Causes of Women's Underrepresentation in Science" published Feb. 7 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Cornell University social researchers say it's just not true.

It's not discrimination in these areas, but rather differences in resources attributable to career and family-related choices that set women back in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields, say Stephen J. Ceci, professor of developmental psychology, and Wendy M. Williams, professor of human development and director of the Cornell Institute for Women in Science, both in Cornell's College of Human Ecology.

The "substantial resources" universities expend to sponsor gender-sensitivity training and interviewing workshops would be better spent on addressing the real causes of women's underrepresentation, Ceci and Williams say, through creative problem-solving and policy changes that respond to differing "biological and social realities" of the sexes.

The scientists analyzed the scientific literature in which women and men competed for publications, grants or jobs in these fields. They found no systematic evidence of sex discrimination in interviewing, hiring, reviewing or funding when men and women with similar resources � such as teaching loads and research support � were compared.........

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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