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December 15, 2008, 5:20 AM CT

Later school start times may improve sleep in adolescents

Later school start times may improve sleep in adolescents
A study in the Dec. 15 issue of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine shows that after a one-hour delay of school start times, teens increased their average nightly hours of sleep and decreased their "catch-up sleep" on the weekends, and they were involved in fewer auto accidents.

When school started one hour later students averaged from 12 minutes (grade nine) to 30 minutes (grade 12) more self-reported nightly sleep. The percentage of students who got at least eight hours of sleep per weeknight increased significantly from 35.7 percent to 50 percent; students who got at least nine hours of sleep also increased from 6.3 percent to 10.8 percent. The average amount of additional weekend sleep, or "catch-up sleep," decreased from 1.9 hours to 1.1 hours. Daytime sleepiness decreased, as reported by students using the Epworth Sleepiness Scale. Average crash rates for teen drivers in the study county in the two years after the change in school start time dropped 16.5 percent in comparison to the two years previous to the change, while teen crash rates for the rest of the state increased 7.8 percent over the same time period.

"It is surprising that high schools continue to set their start times early, which impairs learning, attendance and driving safety of the students," said senior author Barbara Phillips, MD, director of the UK Healthcare Good Samaritan Sleep Center in Lexington, Ky.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


December 15, 2008, 5:18 AM CT

High blood pressure may make it difficult for the elderly to think clearly

High blood pressure may make it difficult for the elderly to think clearly
Adding another reason for people to watch their blood pressure, a new study from North Carolina State University shows that increased blood pressure in elderly adults is directly correlation to decreased cognitive functioning, especially among seniors with already high blood pressure. This means that stressful situations may make it more difficult for some seniors to think clearly.

Dr. Jason Allaire, an assistant professor of psychology at NC State who co-authored the study, explains that study subjects whose average systolic blood pressure was 130 or higher saw a significant decrease in cognitive function when their blood pressure spiked. However, Allaire notes, study subjects whose average blood pressure was low or normal saw no change in their cognitive functioning even when their blood pressure shot up.

Specifically, Allaire says, the study shows a link between blood pressure spikes in seniors with hypertension and a decrease in their inductive reasoning. "Inductive reasoning is important," Allaire says, "because it is essentially the ability to work flexibly with unfamiliar information and find solutions".

Allaire says the findings may indicate that mental stress is partially responsible for the increase in blood pressure and the corresponding breakdown in cognitive functioning. However, Allaire notes that normal fluctuations in blood pressure likely play a role as well.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


December 15, 2008, 5:17 AM CT

Racial gap growing in colorectal cancer

Racial gap growing in colorectal cancer
A new report from the American Cancer Society says despite unprecedented progress in reducing incidence and death rates from colorectal cancer, the gap between blacks and whites continues to grow. The latest data show death rates are about 45 percent higher in African American men and women than in whites. The data come from Colorectal Cancer Facts & Figures 2008-2010, the second edition of a report first issued in 2005.

Colorectal cancer is the third most usually diagnosed cancer and the third leading cause of cancer death in both men and women in the United States. The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2008, about 148,810 people will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer and about 49,960 people will die of the disease. The great majority of these cancers and deaths could be prevented by applying existing knowledge about cancer prevention and by increasing access to and use of established screening tests.

Eventhough incidence and mortality rates continue to decrease in both blacks and whites, rates remain higher and declines have been slower among blacks. Differences in incidence and mortality between blacks and whites have actually grown in the three years since the prior edition of the report was published. For example, in the prior report, the incidence rate in white men was 63.1 (per 100,000) in comparison to 72.9 in black men, an absolute difference of 9.8; in the current report, the difference between the incidence rate in white men (58.9 per 100,000) and black men (71.2 per 100,000) increased to 12.3.........

Posted by: Sue      Read more         Source


December 15, 2008, 5:15 AM CT

Psychotherapy to treat eating disorders

Psychotherapy to treat eating disorders
Wellcome Trust researchers have developed a new form of psychotherapy that has been shown to have the potential to treat more than eight out of ten cases of eating disorders in adults, a study out today reports.

This new "enhanced" form of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT-E) builds on and improves the current leading treatment for bulimia nervosa as recommended by the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE). CBT-E is the first treatment to be shown to be suitable for the majority of cases of eating disorders.

According to NICE, eating disorders are a major cause of physical and psychosocial impairment in young women, affecting at least one in twenty women between the ages of 18 and 30. They also occur in young men but are less common. Three eating disorders are recognised: anorexia nervosa, which accounts for around one in ten cases in adults; bulimia nervosa, which accounts for a third of all cases; and the remainder are classed as "atypical eating disorders, which account for over half of all cases. In these atypical cases the features of anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa are combined in a different way.

The three eating disorders vary in their severity, but typically involve extreme and relentless dieting, self-induced vomiting or laxative misuse, binge eating, driven exercising and in some cases marked weight loss. Common associated features are depression, social withdrawal, perfectionism and low self-esteem. The disorders tend to run a chronic course and are notoriously difficult to treat. Relapse is common.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


December 11, 2008, 10:26 PM CT

A fading sense of smell may signal Parkinson's disease

A fading sense of smell may signal Parkinson's disease
A number of individuals with Parkinson's disease are able to recall losing their sense of smell well before the onset of more usually recognized symptoms such as tremors, impaired dexterity, speech problems, memory loss and decreased cognitive ability. To determine if a fading sense of smell may signal Parkinson's, scientists at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine are participating in a national study to examine the correlation and ascertain whether smell loss presents a tool for early detection of the disease and an opportunity to delay or ultimately prevent more troublesome symptoms.

Nearly one million people in the United States are affected by Parkinson's disease, which stems from premature aging of dopamine-producing cells in the brain, and the number is likely to grow as the population ages. By the time Parkinson's disease is detected, most individuals have already experienced a 60 to 70 percent loss of dopamine-producing cells in the brain.

"Very little is known about the early stages of this disease," says Tanya Simuni, MD, director of Northwestern's Parkinson's Disease and Movement Disorders Center and Associate Professor of Neurology at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine. "By utilizing smell testing in conjunction with other tests, we hope to develop a system that identifies the presence of Parkinson's before it develops into problematic symptoms."........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


December 11, 2008, 10:24 PM CT

Capture and kill cancer cells in the bloodstream

Capture and kill cancer cells in the bloodstream
A schematic of the two-receptor cancer neutralization concept. Cancer cells present in blood stick and roll on the selectins on the surface of the device. While rolling they bind to TRAIL and accumulate the self-destruct signal. Once they detach from the surface and leave the device, they will die 1-2 days later.

Kuldeep Rana

In a new tactic in the fight against cancer, Cornell researcher Michael King has developed what he calls a lethal "lint brush" for the blood -- a tiny, implantable device that captures and kills cancer cells in the bloodstream before they spread through the body.

The strategy, which takes advantage of the body's natural mechanism for fighting infection, could lead to new therapys for a variety of cancers, said King, who is an associate professor of biomedical engineering.

In research conducted at the University of Rochester and would be published in an upcoming issue of the journal Biotechnology and Bioengineering, King showed that two naturally occurring proteins can work together to attract and kill as a number of as 30 percent of tumor cells in the bloodstream -- without harming healthy cells.

King's approach uses a tiny tubelike device coated with the proteins that could hypothetically be implanted in a peripheral blood vessel to filter out and destroy free-flowing cancer cells in the bloodstream.

To capture the tumor cells in the blood, King used selectin molecules -- proteins that move to the surface of blood vessels in response to infection or injury. Selectin molecules normally recruit white blood cells (leukocytes) which "roll" along their surfaces and create an inflammatory response -- but they also attract cancer cells, which can mimic the adhesion and rolling process.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


December 11, 2008, 10:21 PM CT

Meta-analyses finds in favor of aromatase inhibitors

Meta-analyses finds in favor of aromatase inhibitors
Two separate meta-analyses of clinical trials from around the world that tested tamoxifen against aromatase inhibitor drugs in postmenopausal women with early breast cancer have each reached the same conclusion: aromatase inhibitors are more effective in preventing breast cancer from coming back. Patients using aromatase inhibitors had more than a 3 percent lower cancer recurrence 6-8 years after diagnosis, in comparison to women using tamoxifen alone.

One of these studies also found a significant survival benefit (1.6 percent) for users of aromatase inhibitors, but scientists say not enough time has passed since therapy to judge with confidence whether one drug is superior to another in saving lives. The joint analyses are being presented at the Cancer Therapy & Research Center-American Association for Cancer Research (CTRC-AACR) 31st annual San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium. "Tamoxifen is a good drug, but it looks like aromatase inhibitors may be somewhat better," says James Ingle, M.D., a professor of oncology at Mayo Clinic, who is presenting the results on behalf of the Aromatase Inhibitors Overview Group (AIOG).

"The importance of these findings can be seen from the fact that 80,000 to 90,000 women in the United States alone are using endocrine treatment this year," he says. "While a three percent difference in cancer recurrence may not seem like much, it can mean that several thousand women could be spared from a breast cancer recurrence".........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


December 11, 2008, 10:18 PM CT

What you give, might not always be received

What you give, might not always be received
A fundamental process in the transmission of genes from mother to child has been identified by scientists at the Montreal Neurological Institute, McGill University. The new study reported in the recent issue of the journal Nature Genetics identifies a mechanism that plays a key role in how mutations are transmitted from one generation to the next, providing unprecedented insight into metabolic diseases.

DNA that is only passed on from mothers to their children is stored in mitochondria, a compartment of cells which functions to supply energy to the body. Mutations in mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) are important causes of over 40 known types of diseases and disorders which primarily affect brain and muscle function, some of which are severely debilitating, with symptoms including stroke, epilepsy, deafness and blindness. One very common mutation in Quebec causes maternally inherited blindness which has now been traced back to a Fille du Roi sent by the king of France in the 1600s to rectify the imbalance of gender in the newly colonized country.

MNI scientists have located a genetic bottleneck that determines the proportion of mutated mtDNA that mothers transmit to their offspring. This is important because there are a number of copies of mitochondria in cells and their distribution in tissues has a role in the severity and symptoms of the disease. Therefore knowing how mtDNA is transmitted is essential for the understanding and therapy of a range of maternally inherited diseases, and provides an opportunity for genetic counselling and therapy.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


December 11, 2008, 5:28 AM CT

If MRI shows signs of MS, will the disease develop?

If MRI shows signs of MS, will the disease develop?
With more and more people having brain MRIs for various reasons, doctors are finding people whose scans show signs of multiple sclerosis (MS) even though they have no symptoms of the disease. A new study reported in the December 10, 2008, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology, observed that a third of these people developed MS within an average of about five years.

The study involved 44 people who had brain scans for various reasons, such as migraine headaches or head trauma, that showed abnormalities similar to those that occur in MS. The scientists confirmed that the abnormalities were the same as in MS and ruled out other possible causes. Then the scientists monitored the participants to determine whether they developed the disease.

Within an average of 5.4 years, 30 percent of the participants had developed MS symptoms. The brain scans of an additional 29 percent of the people showed further abnormalities, but they continued to have no symptoms of the disease.

"More studies are needed to fully understand the risk of developing MS for people with these brain abnormalities, but it appears that this condition may be a precursor to MS," said study author Darin T. Okuda, MD, of the University of California, San Francisco, the UCSF Multiple Sclerosis Center and a member of the American Academy of Neurology.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


December 11, 2008, 5:22 AM CT

Panic attacks linked to higher risk of heart attacks

Panic attacks linked to higher risk of heart attacks
People who have been diagnosed with panic attacks or panic disorder have a greater risk of subsequently developing heart disease or suffering a heart attack than the normal population, with higher rates occurring in younger people, as per research published in Europe's leading cardiology journal, the European Heart Journal [1] today (Thursday 11 December).

The study observed that people who were younger than 50 when first diagnosed had a significantly higher risk of subsequent heart attacks (or myocardial infarctions, MI), but this was not the case in older people. It also found there was a significantly higher occurence rate of subsequent coronary heart disease (CHD) in people diagnosed with panic attacks/disorder at all ages, but this was more marked in the under 50s.

However, the research also showed that the risk of dying from CHD was actually reduced amongst people of all ages who had been diagnosed with panic attacks/disorder.

The study is the first to look at a very large sample of the UK population of all ages (a total of 404,654 people) selected from a primary care population that can be broadly generalised to other countries with a similar socio-demographic structure. It is also the first to identify that the higher risk of heart attacks with panic attacks/disorder is mainly in younger people (aged under 50 years), and that having a panic attacks/disorder diagnosis is linked to a lower risk of dying from heart conditions.........

Posted by: Daniel      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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