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February 20, 2009, 6:24 AM CT

Number of fast-food restaurants and stroke risk

Number of fast-food restaurants and stroke risk
The risk of stroke increases with the number of fast-food restaurants in a neighborhood, as per research presented at the American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference 2009.

After statistically controlling for demographic and socioeconomic factors, scientists found:
  • Residents of neighborhoods with the highest number of fast-food restaurants had a 13 percent higher relative risk of suffering ischemic strokes than those living in areas with the lowest numbers of restaurants.
  • The relative risk of stroke increased 1 percent for each fast-food restaurant in a neighborhood.

    However, the scientists said the discovery of increased risk only demonstrates an association, it does not prove that fast-food restaurants raise stroke risk.

    "The data show a true association," said Lewis B. Morgenstern, M.D., main author of the study and director of the University of Michigan's stroke program and professor of neurology and epidemiology in Ann Arbor. "What we don't know is whether fast food actually increased the risk because of its contents, or whether fast-food restaurants are a marker of unhealthy neighborhoods".

    Neighborhoods with large numbers of the restaurants are prime areas for stroke prevention programs, Morgenstern said. "We need to consider targeting communities that have a lot of fast-food restaurants as places where we can improve health".........

    Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


  • February 20, 2009, 6:22 AM CT

    Breast feeding may reduce multiple sclerosis relapses

    Breast feeding may reduce multiple sclerosis relapses
    Women who have multiple sclerosis may reduce their risk of relapses after pregnancy if they breastfeed their babies, as per a research studyreleased recently that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 61st Annual Meeting in Seattle, April 25 to May 2, 2009.

    For the study, scientists followed 32 pregnant women with MS and 29 pregnant women without MS during each trimester and up to a year after they gave birth. The women were interviewed about their breastfeeding and menstrual period history.

    A total of 52 percent of the women with MS did not breastfeed or began supplemental formula feedings within two months of giving birth. Of those, 87 percent had a relapse after pregnancy in comparison to 36 percent of women with MS who breastfed exclusively for at least two months after pregnancy.

    Sixty percent of the women reported their main reason for not breastfeeding exclusively was to start taking MS therapys again. Women who began taking MS therapys within the first two months after giving birth had significantly higher risk of suffering a relapse than women with MS who did not start taking medications early, regardless of whether they breastfed. Those who breastfed exclusively got their menstrual periods back later than the women who did not breastfeed or began early supplemental feedings.........

    Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


    February 19, 2009, 6:18 AM CT

    Brain cancers linked to gene mutations

    Brain cancers linked to gene mutations
    Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center and Duke University Medical Center have linked mutations in two genes, IDH1 and IDH2, to nearly three-quarters of several of the most common types of brain cancers known as gliomas. Among the findings: people with certain tumors that carry these genetic alterations appear to survive at least twice as long as those without them.

    Further research on the genes could also lead to more precise diagnosis and therapys, they said.

    Reporting in the Feb. 19 issue of the New England Journal (NEJM), researchers say they looked for IDH1 and IDH2 gene alterations in material taken from 500 brain tumors and 500 non-central nervous system cancers. They located changes in the IDH1 gene in more than 70 percent of three common types of gliomas: low-grade astrocytomas, oligodendrogliomas, and secondary glioblastomas. The changes occurred within a single spot along a string of thousands of genetic coding letters. Some of the brain cancers that did not have alterations in IDH1 had equivalent mutations in another closely related gene, IDH2.

    "For patients with these types of common brain tumors, mutations of IDH1/IDH2 are the most frequent genetic alterations yet identified," says D. Williams Parsons, M.D., Ph.D., visiting professor in pediatric oncology at Johns Hopkins and assistant professor at Baylor College of Medicine.........

    Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


    February 19, 2009, 6:01 AM CT

    Improving memory in Alzheimer's patients

    Improving memory in Alzheimer's patients
    A drug used in a type of hereditary metabolic disorder improved the memory of laboratory animals with Alzheimer's disease. The results of the project, developed by scientists of the Center for Applied Medical Research (CIMA) of the University of Navarra have been reported in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology.

    The research project showed that the drug sodium phenylbutyrate, prescribed until now for patients with alterations in the urea cycle, eases the fusion of proteins responsible for neuron connections, thus increasing the learning capacity of the mice involved. As a result, these discoveries offer new, promising perspectives for the therapy of Alzheimer's Disease and other related dementias.

    In addition, these findings provide a new alternative to the drugs that are currently available for fighting this devastating disease, explained Dr. Ana García-Osta. Dr. García-Osta is a researcher from the Department of Neurosciences and the principal author of this project.

    The research team is currently focused on discovering the acting mechanism in this drug. As the drug is now clinically available and well tolerated, the confirmation of its therapeutic affectivity in humans could be applied to Alzheimer's in a shorter period of time than other drugs being studied.........

    Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


    February 19, 2009, 5:58 AM CT

    Medication used for blood pressure control may be useful in brain tumors

    Medication used for blood pressure control may be useful in brain tumors
    A widely used blood pressure medicine appears to be the key to preventing brain function loss common after radiation therapy, as per a newly published study by scientists at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. The findings offer the hope of an improved quality of life for cancer patients.

    Using a rat model, the study drew on a hypothesis from prior studies that a compound similar to the anti-hypertensive drug losartan can prevent the cognition loss that has been closely-linked to radiation treatment for brain tumor therapy.

    The findings, recently reported in the International Journal of Radiation Oncology, Biology, Physics, appear to validate the hypothesis in rats and scientists are optimistic that the same theory could easily be applied in a human clinical trial setting because the drug used has a long-established safety profile in patients who have taken it to treat high blood pressure.

    "We need to kill cancer cells but also prevent or reduce therapy-related side effects," said Mike E. Robbins, Ph.D., a professor in the department of radiation oncology at the Brain Tumor Center of Excellence, part of Wake Forest University School of Medicine. "One very interesting feature of this compound is that it has never shown any pro-tumor effects. If anything, it appears to have anti-tumor properties. We're very close to having a compound that will protect the normal brain from cognitive injury as a result of radiation and, at the same time, we may very well increase the likelihood of one day curing brain cancer patients of their tumors."........

    Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


    February 18, 2009, 6:25 AM CT

    Using your brain more may prevent memory loss

    Using your brain more may prevent memory loss
    Participating in certain mental activities, like reading magazines or crafting in middle age or during the later part of life, may delay or prevent memory loss, as per a research studyreleased recently that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 61st Annual Meeting in Seattle, April 25 to May 2, 2009.

    The study involved 197 people between the ages of 70 and 89 with mild cognitive impairment, or diagnosed memory loss, and 1,124 people that age with no memory problems. Both groups answered questions about their daily activities within the past year and in middle age, when they were between 50 to 65 years old.

    The study observed that during later years, reading books, playing games, participating in computer activities and doing craft activities such as pottery or quilting led to a 30 to 50 percent decrease in the risk of developing memory loss in comparison to people who did not do those activities. People who watched television for less than seven hours a day in later years were 50 percent less likely to develop memory loss than people who watched for more than seven hours a day.

    People who participated in social activities and read magazines during middle age were about 40 percent less likely to develop memory loss than those who did not do those activities.........

    Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


    February 16, 2009, 9:51 PM CT

    Migraine, stroke and heart attack

    Migraine, stroke and heart attack
    ST. PAUL, Minn. New research looks at whether a gene variant may affect the link between migraine and stroke or heart attacks. The study is reported in the February 17, 2009, print issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

    The study involved 25,000 women who answered a questionnaire about their history of migraines and migraines with aura. Aura is commonly described as visual disturbances, such as flashing lights or geometric patterns. The women were tested for a genetic variant called the angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) D/I polymorphism.

    A total of 4,577 women reported a history of migraine and of those, 1,275 had migraine with aura. Twelve years after the start of the study, 625 strokes and heart attacks were reported.

    The study did not find a link between the gene variant and migraine, migraine with aura, stroke or heart attacks. However, women who had migraine with aura and also were carriers of certain genotypes, called the DD and the DI genotypes, had double the risk of stroke and heart attacks. In contrast, women who had migraine with aura and were carriers of a third genotype, called the II genotype, were not at increased risk. The authors add the caution that this relationship was identified with very little information and must be tested in other studies to determine if it is real.........

    Posted by: Daniel      Read more


    February 16, 2009, 9:47 PM CT

    What's the link between Parkinsonism and melanoma?

    What's the link between Parkinsonism and melanoma?
    People with a family history of melanoma may have a greater risk of developing Parkinson's disease, as per a research studyreleased recently that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 61st Annual Meeting in Seattle, April 25 to May 2, 2009.

    The study involved nearly 157,000 people who did not have Parkinson's disease. They were asked if their parents or siblings had been diagnosed with melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. Scientists then traced their progress for a period of 14 to 20 years. During that time, 616 of the people were diagnosed with Parkinson's disease.

    Scientists observed that people with a reported family history of melanoma were nearly twice as likely to develop Parkinson's as people with no family history.

    "The results from this study suggest that melanoma and Parkinson's could share common genetic components," said study author Xiang Gao, MD, PhD, of the Harvard University School of Public Health in Boston, MA. "More research needs to be done to examine the relationship between these two diseases."

    Other studies have shown that people with Parkinson's disease have a greater risk of developing melanoma.........

    Posted by: George      Read more


    February 12, 2009, 6:08 AM CT

    Your brain is working hard even when you are sleeping

    Your brain is working hard even when you are sleeping
    New research provides strong support for the idea that one of the key functions of sleep is the consolidation of memories. The study, published by Cell Press in the February 12th issue of the journal Neuron, provides fascinating insight into the cellular mechanisms that govern the sleep-dependent consolidation of experiences that occur while we are awake.

    Eventhough sleep is thought to facilitate memory and learning, the molecular links between sleep and synaptic plasticity are not well understood. Ocular dominance plasticity (ODP) is a classic model of experience-dependent cortical plasticity that allows researchers to follow specific changes in the visual cortex in response to the occlusion of one eye.

    "We have shown that ODP is consolidated by sleep," says senior study author Dr. Marcos G. Frank from the Department of Neuroscience at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. "Our prior studies indicate that the underlying mechanisms, though still unknown, may involve N-methyl D-aspartate receptors (NMDARs) and intracellular kinases." Dr. Frank and his colleagues performed a series of experiments designed to test this hypothesis.

    The scientists observed that sleep consolidates ODP primarily by strengthening cortical responses to stimulation of the nondeprived eye. NMDAR- and protein kinase A-mediated intracellular cascades were critical components of the cellular machinery mandatory for sleep-dependent consolidation of ODP, and their activation during sleep promoted synaptic strengthening.........

    Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


    February 12, 2009, 5:36 AM CT

    Elevated blood sugar level leads to decreased brain funciton

    Elevated blood sugar level leads to decreased brain funciton
    Results of a recent study conducted by scientists at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center and his colleagues show that cognitive functioning abilities drop as average blood sugar levels rise in people with type 2 diabetes.

    The study appears in this month's issue of Diabetes Care

    The ongoing Memory in Diabetes (MIND) study, a sub-study of the Action to Control Cardiovascular Risk in Diabetes Trial (ACCORD), found a statistically significant inverse relationship between A1C levels (average blood glucose levels over a period of two to three months) and subjects' scores on four cognitive tests. No association, however, was found between daily blood glucose levels (measured by the fasting plasma glucose test) and test scores.

    For the study, scientists at 52 of the 77 ACCORD sites throughout the United States and Canada administered a 30-minute battery of cognitive tests to nearly 3,000 individuals ages 55 years and older.

    "The tests used in the study measured several aspects of memory function," said Jeff Williamson, M.D., M.H.S., principal investigator for the study at the Wake Forest clinical site. "For example, we tested one's ability to switch back and forth between memory tasks or to 'multitask,' an important skill for people needing to manage their diabetes".........

    Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source



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    Did you know?
    The drug Ativan is better than Valium or Dilantin for controlling severe epileptic seizures, according to a new review of studies.Ativan, or lorazepam, and Valium, or diazepam, are both benzodiazepines, the currently preferred class of drugs for treating severe epileptic seizures. Dilantin, or phenytoin, is an anticonvulsant long used for the treatment of epileptic seizures.

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