May 4, 2009, 5:26 AM CT
Women live longer, not better
Obesity and arthritis that take root during early and middle age significantly contribute to women's decreased quality of life during their senior years, as per scientists at Duke University Medical Center.
In a study that included 5,888 people over 65, women suffered up to two and a half times more disabilities than men of the same age.
Higher rates of obesity and arthritis among these women explained up to 48 percent of the gender gap in disability above all other common chronic health conditions.
"While women tend to live longer than men, this study shows that they are at greater risk of living with disability and much of the excess disability is attributable to higher rates of obesity and arthritis," said Heather Whitson, M.D., assistant professor of medicine and lead investigator of the study presented today at the Annual Scientific Meeting of the American Geriatrics Society. "This is important because it suggests that women's tendency to pack on extra pounds in their child-bearing and peri-menopausal years translates into loss of independence in their old age".
Scientists said the study is the first to isolate the impact of specific chronic health conditions on the difference in disability rates between older men and women. While a number of people are studying how chronic conditions affect mortality, the researchers were surprised to see the extent to which these conditions explained the gender difference in disability.........
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May 4, 2009, 5:19 AM CT
Personalized treatment for early lung cancer
Cancer vaccines and targeted therapies are beginning to offer new therapy options following surgery for patients with early stages of lung cancer, experts said at the first European Multidisciplinary Conference in Thoracic Oncology (EMCTO) in Lugano, Switzerland (1-3 May 2009).
"Personalizing treatment is the key strategy for longer and better survival in lung cancer," said Prof Paris Kosmidis, head of the second Medical Oncology Department at Hygeia Hospital in Athens, Greece. "This is especially important for early stage disease when following surgery, decisions about preventive treatment are based on specific prognostic and predictive factors."
Prof Walter Weder, head of thoracic surgery at the University of Zurich in Switzerland, adds: "At the meeting, several research groups will present data from new and ongoing studies that show how existing therapys might be combined with targeted therapies and new cancer vaccines. We hope that these new therapys will provide further progress."
In one poster presentation at the meeting, scientists describe the results of a study that sought to identify which patients are likely to benefit from an immune-boosting vaccine designed to help the immune system recognize MAGE-A3, a protein that is expressed on about 30% of lung cancers.........
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May 4, 2009, 5:14 AM CT
Late motherhood boosts family lifespan
Ken. R. Smith
University of Utah demographer Ken R. Smith led a new study confirming that women who have their last baby after age 45 live longer than women who have their last baby at younger ages, and also showing that their brothers live longer too. That suggests the same genes promote both prolonged fertility in women and longevity in both sexes.
Credit: Jason Smith, University of Utah
Women who have babies naturally in their 40s or 50s tend to live longer than other women. Now, a newly released study shows their brothers also live longer, but the brothers' wives do not, suggesting the same genes prolong lifespan and female fertility, and appears to be more important than social and environmental factors.
"If women in your family give birth at older ages, you may well have a chance of living longer than you would otherwise," says the study's main author, demographer Ken R. Smith, a professor of family and consumer studies at the University of Utah. "If you have a female relative who had children after age 45, then there appears to be some genetic benefit in your family that will enhance your longevity".
For descendants of the Utah and Quebec pioneers studied, "you appears to be able to look at the ages when your female ancestors gave birth rather than just their longevity in estimating how long you may live," says Smith, whose study will be published online May 4 and in the June 10 print issue of the Journal of Gerontology: Biological Sciences
The scientists examined high-quality genealogical records from the Utah Population Database at the University of Utah with its records of 1.6 million Utah Mormon pioneers and their descendants. They also used the University of Montreal's Program on Demographic History Research, which has records on 400,000 people who lived in heavily Catholic Quebec between 1608 and 1850.........
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May 4, 2009, 5:12 AM CT
Furniture tip-over injuries rising
Eventhough most parents do not consider furniture and televisions to be dangerous, children are often injured when these items tip over. A recent study conducted by the Center for Injury Research and Policy of The Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital observed that from 1990-2007 an average of nearly 15,000 children younger than 18 years of age visited emergency departments annually for injuries received from furniture tip-overs.
As per the study, reported in the online issue of Clinical Pediatrics
in May, most furniture tip-over-related injuries occurred among children younger than 7 years of age and resulted from televisions tipping over. More than one quarter of the injuries occurred when children pulled over or climbed on furniture. Children ages 10-17 years were more likely to suffer injuries from desks, cabinets or bookshelves tipping over. Head and neck injuries were most common among younger children, while children older than 9 years were more likely to suffer injuries to the lower body.
Despite warnings from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, the number of injuries involving televisions and other furniture tipping over onto children has increased in this country since the early part of 1990s.
"There was a more than 40 percent increase in the number of injuries during the study period, and the injury rate also significantly increased during these years," said study senior author Gary Smith, MD, DrPH, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital. "This trend demonstrates the inadequacy of current prevention strategies and underscores the need for increased prevention efforts".........
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May 4, 2009, 5:10 AM CT
Memory in Alzheimer's disease
Even very early in Alzheimer's disease, people become less efficient at separating important from less important information, a newly released study has observed.
Knowing this, clinicians appears to be able to train people in the early stages of Alzheimer's to remember high-value information better, as per a report in the recent issue of Neuropsychology
, published by the American Psychological Association.
Remembering what's most important is central to daily life. For example, if you went to the grocery store but left your shopping list at home, you'd at least want to remember the milk and bread, if not the jam. Or, when packing for a trip, you'd want to remember your wallet and tickets more than your slippers or belt.
Participants in the study were recruited from the Washington University in St. Louis Alzheimer's Disease Research Center. They included 109 healthy elderly adults (average age of almost 75), 41 people with very mild (very early) Alzheimer's disease (average age of almost 76), 13 people with mild (early) Alzheimer's (average age of almost 77), and 35 younger adults (all 25 or under, average age of almost 20).
The scientists asked participants to study and learn neutral words that were randomly assigned different point values. When asked to recall the items, participants were asked to maximize the total value. All participants, even those with Alzheimer's, recalled more high-value than low-value items. However, the Alzheimer's groups were significantly less efficient than their healthy age peers at remembering items as per their value. It meant they no longer maximized learning and memory, which in healthy people are fairly efficient processes.........
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May 4, 2009, 5:08 AM CT
Tthinking about the positive
In a newly released study, cognitive researchers have shown that when aware of both a negative and positive stereotype correlation to performance, women will identify more closely with the positive stereotype, avoiding the harmful impact the negative stereotype unwittingly can have on their performance.
The study, led by Robert J. Rydell, assistant professor in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Indiana University, focused on women and math ability. While studies -- including this one -- have shown that women will perform worse on mathematical tasks if simply made aware of the negative stereotype that women are weaker at math than men, this is the first study to examine the influence of concurrent and competing stereotypes, one negative and one positive.
The study also demonstrates how the negative stereotype encroached on working memory, thus leaving less brain power for the mathematical task at hand. The positive stereotypes had no such effect, however, and when coupled with the negative stereotype erased its drain on working memory.
"This research shows that because people are members of multiple social groups that often have contradictory performance stereotypes (for example, Asian females in the domain of math), making them aware of both a positive group stereotype and a negative stereotype eliminates the threat and underperformance that is commonly seen when they dwell only on their membership in a negatively stereotyped group," Rydell said. "People seem motivated to align themselves with positively stereotyped groups and, as a byproduct, can eliminate the worry, stress and cognitive depletion brought about by negative performance stereotypes, increasing actual performance."........
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May 1, 2009, 5:06 AM CT
Maternal depression and sleep disturbance in infants
A study in the May 1 issue of the journal SLEEP
suggests that babies born to mothers with depression are more likely to suffer from significant sleep disturbances at 2 weeks postpartum that continue until 6 months of age. Findings of the study are of particular importance, as sleep disturbances in infancy may result in increased risk for developing early-onset depression in childhood.
Results indicate that infants born to mothers with depression had significant sleep disturbances in comparison to low-risk infants; the high-risk group had an hour longer nocturnal sleep latency, shorter sleep episodes and lower sleep efficiency than infants who were born to mothers without depression. Eventhough average sleep time in a 24 hours did not differ by risk group at eight two or four weeks, nocturnal total sleep time was 97 minutes longer in the low-risk group at both recording periods. High-risk infants also had significantly more daytime sleep episodes of a shorter average duration.
Prior studies have observed that levels of cortisol, a hormone that is linked to stress, is increased during pregnancy and after delivery in depressed mothers, indicating that the mother's hormone level may affect the infant's sleep.
As per the main author, Roseanne Armitage, PhD, director of the Sleep and Chronophysiology Laboratory at the University Of Michigan Depression Center, while maternal depression does have a negative effect on infants' sleep, the damage appears to be reversible.........
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April 30, 2009, 9:50 PM CT
Management of asthma during pregnancy
Pregnant women with asthma, the most common condition affecting the lungs during pregnancy, should actively manage their asthma in order to optimize the health of mother and the baby, as per new management recommendations reported in the current issue of the New England Journal (NEJM)
"Though studies suggest asthma during pregnancy can increase health risks for mom and baby, our research shows that women who manage their asthma can have as healthy a pregnancy as women who don't have asthma," said Michael Schatz, MD, main author of the NEJM recommendations and chief of the Allergy Department at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, San Diego, Calif. "A number of studies suggest that asthma can increase the risk of pregnancy complications, including preeclampsia, low birth-weight babies or preterm birth, however, women with well-controlled asthma in pregnancy generally have good pregnancy outcomes. Women who have asthma and are considering pregnancy should speak with their doctors to develop a treatment plan".
The recommendations are based to a large degree on a 12-year Kaiser Permanente study of 1,900 pregnant women, and a Maternal Fetal Medicine Units network study of 2,620 women from 16 university hospital centers around the country. Both studies concluded that women with actively managed asthma are just as likely to have healthy pregnancies and babies as women who don't have asthma.........
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April 30, 2009, 9:33 PM CT
Promise against resistant staph infections
Researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University have combined their revolutionary new drug-delivery system with a powerful antimicrobial agent to treat potentially deadly drug-resistant staph infections in mice. The study is published this month in the online version of the Journal of Investigative DermatologyStaphylococcus aureus
bacteria cause the majority of superficial and invasive skin infections, resulting in more than 11 million outpatient/emergency room visits and 464,000 hospital admissions annually in the U.S. Staph are also notorious for infecting patients while they're in the hospital for other reasons. Staph infections can be deadly if the bacteria invade the bloodstream, heart, lungs, or urinary tract. As more strains of staph become resistant to common antibiotics, the need for new therapys has become urgent.
The drug-delivery system, developed by Einstein scientists, consists of biocompatible nanoparticles each smaller than a grain of pollen that can carry tiny payloads of various drugs or other medically useful substances and release them in a controlled and sustained manner. In this study, the nanoparticles were designed to transport and slowly release nitric oxide (NO) gas.
The nanoparticle technology was developed by Joel M. Friedman, M.D., Ph.D., professor of physiology & biophysics and of medicine at Einstein, and his son, Adam Friedman, M.D., an incoming chief resident in the division of dermatology at Einstein. The Friedmans were co-senior authors of the study along with Joshua D. Nosanchuck, M.D., associate professor in the departments of medicine and microbiology & immunology at Einstein.........
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April 30, 2009, 5:26 AM CT
Preserving eggs for reproduction
Cryoprotectants needed to preserve eggs for reproduction need to be given in stages, albeit rapid ones, say researchers who have developed a mathematical model that predicts optimal time for loading and unloading these drugs.
Their studies in Rhesus monkey eggs, which are very similar to human eggs, show that a two-step process of easing into and out of the drugs needed to help protect eggs at subzero temperatures dramatically reduces the amount eggs contract and expand in the process.
These dramatic size shifts can literally rip an egg apart or, at the very least, reduce the chances it can be fertilized, says Dr. Ali Eroglu, reproductive biologist and cryobiologist in the Medical College of Georgia Schools of Medicine and Graduate Studies.
Researchers first looked at how fast the three most usually used cryoprotectants - dimethylsulfoxide, ethylene glycol and propylene glycol - permeate monkey eggs. Faster permeability is better with these drugs which must be given at room temperature when their toxicity levels are high. With permeability rates in hand, MCG researchers used a mathematical model, developed in collaboration with Villanova University in Pennsylvania, to successfully predict optimal loading and removal times.
They found propylene glycol works best in monkeys. The drug penetrated the egg membrane faster and got out faster, Dr. Eroglu and colleagues report in the recent issue of Molecular Reproduction & Development.........
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