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July 16, 2009, 11:54 PM CT

Obesity and adolescents' social networks

Obesity and adolescents' social networks
Scientists from the Institute of Prevention Research at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California (USC) found in a recent study that overweight youth were twice as likely to have overweight friends.

"Eventhough this link between obesity and social networks was expected, it was surprising how strong the peer effect is and how early in life it starts," says main author Thomas Valente, Ph.D., professor of preventive medicine at the Keck School of Medicine.

The study appears in the recent issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health, available online July 20 at http://journals.elsevierhealth.com/periodicals/jah/home.

Prior data had shown a correlation between overweight adults and their social peers. However, the USC study used more advanced statistical modeling techniques than prior research and the association remained strong, Valente says.

"The findings certainly raise health concerns because when kids start associating only with others who have a similar weight status it can reinforce the negative behaviors that cause obesity," he says.

In-school surveys were conducted among 617 students ages 11-13 from the greater Los Angeles area. In addition to finding that overweight adolescents were more likely to have overweight friends than their normal-weight peers, the scientists also observed that overweight girls were more likely to name more friends, but less likely to be named as a friend than normal-weight girls.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


July 16, 2009, 11:50 PM CT

Understanding of DNA repair mechanism could lead to better cancer drugs

Understanding of DNA repair mechanism could lead to better cancer drugs
Scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have shed new light on a process that fixes breaks in the genetic material of the body's cells. Their findings could lead to ways of enhancing chemotherapy drugs that destroy cancer cells by damaging their DNA.

Using yeast cells, the researchers studied protein molecules that have an important role in homologous recombination, which is one way that cells repair breaks in the DNA double helix. The process in yeast is similar to that in humans and other organisms.

Earlier research had established that a protein molecule named Srs2 regulates homologous recombination by counteracting the work of another protein, Rad51. Reporting in the July 10 issue of the journal Molecular Cell, the research team reveals the mechanism of how Srs2 removes Rad51 from DNA and thereby prevents it from making repairs to broken strands.

"Our findings may make it possible to uncover ways to augment the effect of DNA-damaging agents that are used for cancer chemotherapy," says senior author Tom Ellenberger, D.V.M, Ph.D., the Raymond H. Wittcoff Professor and head of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics. "A number of chemotherapeutic agents work by causing DNA damage in cancer cells, leading to their death, and tumors can become resistant to chemotherapy by using DNA repair mechanisms to keep the cells alive. Drugs that inhibit the DNA repair process could help increase the efficiency of chemotherapeutic agents".........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


July 16, 2009, 11:44 PM CT

Hospital software improves patient satisfaction

Hospital software improves patient satisfaction
When hospitalists use discharge communication software, patients and the outpatient doctors who carry out the care have better perceptions of the quality of the discharge process, as per new research reported in the recent issue of the Journal of Hospital Medicine

The scientists go on to say that hospitalists are satisfied that the software works, eventhough they find the systems more difficult to use than the paper based methods they are more familiar with.

Communication between physicians at the hospital known as hospitalists and primary care physicians or physicians at outpatient clinics can be a major challenge. That challenge can have major impacts on patient safety, re-admissions to the hospital and the financial well being of the healthcare system.

"We designed a computer software program to help doctors communicate with each other," said Dr. James Graumlich, Associate Professor of Medicine and Clinical Pharmacology, Chair in the Department of Medicine University of Illinois College of Medicine. "This research shows that the software can play a role in increasing the satisfaction of patients and their primary care physicians".

Part of that communication is the discharge summary, and problems occur when these are either not written, not handed on, or difficult to understand. Often patients have their first out-of-hospital appointment before the discharge notes have arrived with their primary care physician.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


July 14, 2009, 7:47 AM CT

Bath time falls injure thousands of children

Bath time falls injure thousands of children
A new national study finds kids are being hurt in bathtubs and showers at a surprising rate.* You might think scalding or near drownings would be the most common threat in the bathroom, but they're not.

Experts at Nationwide Children's Hospital say slips and falls are far more common, sending more than 43,000 kids a year to the emergency department. That's an average of 120 kids every day who are hurt in the tub or shower.* In most cases, parents are watching their kids, but it doesn't matter.

"Unfortunately, adult supervision isn't enough to prevent these injuries, they happen so quickly that a parent simply can't react quickly enough to prevent them. Therefore it is important to prevent them from happening by using a slip resistant mat inside and outside the bath and shower," says Gary Smith, MD, with Nationwide Children's Hospital's Center for Injury Research and Policy.

Smith suggests installing support bars so kids can hold onto them when getting in and out of the tub and shower. Also make sure there are no sharp edges they can fall against.

In the study publishing in the recent issue of the journal Pediatrics, scientists say most injuries occur to children under age 4, and most often to the face.

"That is because young children, the ones typically injured in bathtubs and showers, they tend topple forward, they have a high center of gravity, and they tend to strike their head and their face, and that ends up with injures such as lacerations," says Smith.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


July 14, 2009, 7:45 AM CT

Promoting physical exercise in adults

Promoting physical exercise in adults
A study published this week in the open access journal PLoS Medicine has observed that of six interventions promoting exercise in adults in Australia, encouraging the use of pedometers simple step counting devices that can be used as a motivational tool and promoting physical activity through mass media campaigns are the most cost-effective in terms of the money spent for the health benefits they result in. Considered as a package, scientists at the University of Queensland also conclude that these six interventions could reduce death and illness from heart disease, stroke, cancer and diabetes in Australia, with an overall cost saving for the health sector.

Despite its image as a sporting nation, physical inactivity in Australia, in common with a number of countries in the developed world and an increasing number of developing countries, is a major public health problem. The World Health Organisation recommends at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity which could just be brisk walking five times per week, but at least 60% of Australia's population does not even do this modest amount. In Australia, physical inactivity leads to 10% of all deaths, largely as a result of cardiovascular disease and diabetes, and globally it is thought to cause 1.9 million deaths per year.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


July 14, 2009, 7:44 AM CT

Reminder program dramatically increases mammography rates

Reminder program dramatically increases mammography rates
A reminder program aimed at screening for breast cancer when it is most treatable boosted mammography rates by more than 17 percentage points, as per a newly released study by Kaiser Permanente's Center for Health Research in the recent issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine The program used electronic health records to identify women who would soon be due for a mammogram and reached out to them via postcards, automated voice messages and personal phone calls.

The study of 35,000 Kaiser Permanente members is the largest to test a reminder program involving this three-pronged approach. By the second year of the program in 2008, mammography rates jumped from 63 to more than 80 percent among women aged 50-69.

"We know mammograms are effective, but too a number of women put them off, even when they have health insurance," said main author Adrianne Feldstein, MD, MS, an investigator at Kaiser Permanente's Center for Health Research in Portland, Ore., and a practicing physician. "This study is the first to show that these reminder programs can be effective in such a large group of women. If we could improve the country's mammography rate by the same amount, we could detect as a number of as 25,000 additional cases of breast cancer each year".........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


July 14, 2009, 7:42 AM CT

Obesity contributes to rapid cartilage loss

Obesity contributes to rapid cartilage loss
Obesity, among other factors, is strongly linked to an increased risk of rapid cartilage loss, as per a research studyreported in the recent issue of Radiology

"We have isolated demographic and MRI-based risk factors for progressive cartilage loss," said the study's main author, Frank W. Roemer, M.D., adjunct associate professor at Boston University and co-director of the Quantitative Imaging Center at the Department of Radiology at Boston University School of Medicine. "Increased baseline body mass index (BMI) was the only non-MRI-based predictor identified".

Tibio-femoral cartilage is a flexible connective tissue that covers and protects the bones of the knee. Cartilage damage can occur due to excessive wear and tear, injury, misalignment of the joint or other factors, including osteoarthritis.

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, affecting 27 million Americans, as per the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. In osteoarthritis, the cartilage breaks down and, in severe cases, can completely wear away, leaving the joint without a cushion. The bones rub together, causing further damage, significant pain and loss of mobility.

The best way to prevent or slow cartilage loss and subsequent disability is to identify risk factors early.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


July 14, 2009, 7:41 AM CT

Memory test and PET scans detect early signs of Alzheimer's

Memory test and PET scans detect early signs of Alzheimer's
A large study of patients with mild cognitive impairment revealed that results from cognitive tests and brain scans can work as an early warning system for the subsequent development of Alzheimer's disease.

The research observed that among 85 participants in the study with mild cognitive impairment, those with low scores on a memory recall test and low glucose metabolism in particular brain regions, as detected through positron emission tomography (PET), had a 15-fold greater risk of developing Alzheimer's disease within two years, compared with the others in the study.

The results, reported by scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, on Tuesday, July 14, at the Alzheimer's Association 2009 International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease in Vienna, Austria, are a major step forward in the march toward earlier diagnoses of the debilitating disease.

"Not all people with mild cognitive impairment go on to develop Alzheimer's, so it would be extremely useful to be able to identify those who are at greater risk of converting using a clinical test or biological measurement," said the study's main author, Susan Landau, a post-doctoral fellow at UC Berkeley's Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

"The field, in general, is moving toward ways to select people during earlier stages of Alzheimer's disease, including those who show no outward signs of cognitive impairment," said Dr. William Jagust, a faculty member of UC Berkeley's Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute and principal investigator of the study. "By the time a patient is diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, there is commonly little one can do to stop or reverse the decline. Scientists are trying to determine whether treating patients before severe symptoms appear will be more effective, and that requires better diagnostic tools than what is currently available".........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


July 14, 2009, 7:39 AM CT

How staph infections alter immune system?

How staph infections alter immune system?
Here is Dr. Monica Ardura, instructor of pediatrics and lead author of the study (left), Dr. Asuncion Mejias, assistant professor of pediatrics, and Dr. Octavio Ramilo, former professor of pediatrics.
Infectious disease specialists at UT Southwestern Medical Center have mapped the gene profiles of children with severe Staphylococcus aureus infections, providing crucial insight into how the human immune system is programmed to respond to this pathogen and opening new doors for improved therapeutic interventions.

In recent years, much research has focused on understanding precisely what the bacterium S aureus does within the host to disrupt the immune system. Despite considerable advances, however, it remained unclear how the host's immune system responded to the infection and why some people are apt to get more severe staphylococcal infections than others.

By using gene expression profiling, a process that summarizes how individual genes are being activated or suppressed in response to the infection, UT Southwestern scientists pinpointed how an individual's immune system responds to a S. aureus infection at the genetic level.

"The beauty of our study is that we were able to use existing technology to understand in a real clinical setting what's going on in actual humans not models, not cells, not mice, but humans," said Dr. Monica Ardura, instructor of pediatrics at UT Southwestern and main author of the study available online in PLoS One, the Public Library of Science's online journal. "We have provided the first description of a pattern of response within an individual's immune system that is very consistent, very reproducible and very intense".........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


July 14, 2009, 7:37 AM CT

Simulating medical situations helps students learn

Simulating medical situations helps students learn
Simulating medical scenarios helps medical students learn and retain vital information, as per a newly released study done by scientists at Wake Forest University School of Medicine.

The study, recently published in Medical Teacher, shows that medical students not only enjoy patient-simulation experiences but also learn more from them, said Michael T. Fitch, M.D., Ph.D., the senior author of the paper and an associate professor of emergency medicine at the School of Medicine.

"There's no question that people like it," Fitch said. "People really enjoy participating in an immersive learning environment. The purpose of this study was to find out whether this also makes our students learn and retain knowledge better".

For the study, first-year medical students received a traditional lecture on basic neuroscience concepts from a faculty member, followed by a brief questionnaire in an informal class exercise two days later.

Three days after that, without further discussion of the questionnaire or receiving answers, those same students participated in a 90-minute live simulation of a medical emergency. Students were told that the patient "SimMan," a computerized mannequin that can be programmed to have different medical problems had altered mental status, nausea and vomiting.........

Posted by: Janet      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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