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December 4, 2008, 5:29 AM CT

Calcium and vitamin D may not be the only protection

Calcium and vitamin D may not be the only protection
Diets that are high in protein and cereal grains produce an excess of acid in the body which may increase calcium excretion and weaken bones, as per a new study accepted for publication in The Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM). The study observed that increasing the alkali content of the diet, with a pill or through a diet rich in fruits and vegetables has the opposite effect and strengthens skeletal health.

"Heredity, diet, and other lifestyle factors contribute to the problem of bone loss and fractures," said Bess Dawson-Hughes, M.D., of Tufts University in Boston, Mass. and lead author of the study. "When it comes to dietary concerns regarding bone health, calcium and vitamin D have received the most attention, but there is increasing evidence that the acid/base balance of the diet is also important."

Average elderly adults consume diets that, when metabolized, add acid to the body, said Dr. Dawson-Hughes. With aging, we become less able to excrete the acid. One way the body may counteract the acid from our diets is through bone resorption, a process by which bones are broken down to release minerals such as calcium, phosphates, and alkaline (basic) salts into the blood. Unfortunately, increased bone resorption leads to declines in bone mass and increases in fracture risk.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


December 4, 2008, 5:26 AM CT

Novel basis identified for tamoxifen failure

Novel basis identified for tamoxifen failure
Tamoxifen may worsen breast cancer in a small subset of patients. Research published in BioMed Central's open access journal Breast Cancer Research suggests that in patients who show reduced or absent expression of the protein E-cadherin, usually used anti-oestrogen drugs such as tamoxifen may promote more harmful cancer cell behaviour.

A team of scientists co-ordinated by Dr. Stephen Hiscox, from the Welsh School of Pharmacy at Cardiff University, investigated the selective oestrogen receptor modulator (SERM) tamoxifen on human breast cancer cells, comparing it to the direct effects of oestrogen withdrawal. Dr. Hiscox said, "Anti-oestrogens, such as tamoxifen, have been the mainstay of treatment in patients with oestrogen receptor positive (ER+) breast cancer and have provided significant improvements in survival. Our experimental studies suggest that in a certain group of patients, it may be much less effective, however, as it appear to promote an aggressive cell behaviour".

The authors observed that tamoxifen can promote an invasive phenotype in ER+ breast cancer cells under conditions of poor cell-cell contact, a previously unknown effect of this drug. As per Dr. Hiscox, "This could have major clinical implications for those patients with tumours where there is inherently poor intercellular adhesion. In such patients, oestrogen deprivation with aromatase inhibitors (AIs) may be a more appropriate therapy".........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


December 4, 2008, 5:24 AM CT

Interferon needed for cells to "remember" how to defeat a virus

Interferon needed for cells to
Dr. David Farrar (right) led immunology researchers, including student assistants Ann Davis (center) and Hilario Ramos, in demonstrating that the protein interferon plays a key role in "teaching" the immune system how to stave off repeated infections of the same virus.
Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have determined that the immune-system protein interferon plays a key role in "teaching" the immune system how to fight off repeated infections of the same virus.

The findings, available online and in the Dec. 15 issue of the Journal of Immunology, have potential application in the development of more effective vaccines and anti-viral therapies.

Typically, when a person is infected with a virus, the human body immediately generates a massive number of T cells - a type of immune cell - that kill off the infected cells. Once the infection has cleared, most of the T cells also die off, leaving behind a small pool of central memory cells that "remember" how to fight that particular type of virus if the person is infected again.

"In this study, we have uncovered interferon's role and the key signaling protein, called IL-2, involved in generating memory T cells," said Dr. David Farrar, assistant professor of immunology at UT Southwestern and senior author of the study. "Knowing how T cells acquire this memory may help us design better strategies and vaccines to fight HIV and other infectious diseases. Further, our discovery was made using primary human CD4+ T cells, which underscores the relevance of our discovery to human immune responses".........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


December 4, 2008, 5:22 AM CT

Cutting the cord to determine babies' health risk

Cutting the cord to determine babies' health risk
Despite the well-known dangers of first- and secondhand smoke, an estimated ten percent of pregnant women in the U.S. are smokers. Exposure of a developing baby to harmful cigarette byproducts from mothers who smoke affects an estimated 420,000 newborns each year and poses a significant health care burden.

Now, in the first study of its kind, a team of scientists has completed a global assessment of newborns' umbilical cord blood to better understand the fetal health risks from smoking mothers. The research was led by Johns Hopkins University and included Rolf Halden, a researcher from the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University.

"Cigarette smoking is a massive onslaught on human physiology," said Halden, who works in the institute's Center for Environmental Biotechnology. Cigarette smoke is known to contain more than 4,000 chemicals, potentially affecting the health of a newborn baby on multiple levels, including low birth weight, premature delivery and small size for gestational age. The exact cause of these health effects continues to be the subject of investigation.

"Unfortunately, maternal cigarette smoking puts babies at risk of adverse birth outcomes and increases susceptibility to other diseases during the later part of life," said Halden.........

Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source


December 4, 2008, 5:20 AM CT

Concerns about embryo disposition

Concerns about embryo disposition
Fertility patients who are done having children feel responsible for the stored, frozen embryos left over from their therapy, yet more than half are against implanting the embryos in anyone else, as per a new study by scientists at Duke University Medical Center.

"This really turns our moral presumptions on their heads," says Anne Drapkin Lyerly, MD, an obstetrician/gynecologist and bioethicist at Duke, and lead investigator of the findings that appear online in Fertility & Sterility

"Parents care very much about what happens to their embryos, but that doesn't mean they want them to become children. Our study shows that a number of feel they have to do what they can to prevent their embryo from becoming a child".

The survey of more than 1,000 fertility patients is the largest and only multi-site study to shed important light on the state of the nation's 500,000 frozen embryos currently in storage. It reveals previously unexplored concerns that patients have about their embryos, and it comes at a time when several states and even the federal government are attempting to enact legislation that would either assert an embryo is a person, allow abandoned embryos to be adopted by another couple, or allow unused embryos to become "wards of the state."........

Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source


December 4, 2008, 5:18 AM CT

Angled gantry technique reduced breast radiation exposure

Angled gantry technique reduced breast radiation exposure
A novel angled gantry approach to coronary CT angiography reduced radiation exposure to the breast by more than 50%, as per Thomas Jefferson University researchers.

Ethan Halpern, M.D., associate professor of Radiology at Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, presented the research at the 94th Scientific Assembly and Annual Meeting of the Radiological Society of North America.

"Radiation dose to the breast during coronary CT is particularly a concern for young women as the dose may increase the risk for breast cancer," Dr. Halpern said. "Physicians are working diligently to reduce the patient radiation dose correlation to coronary CT".

Dr. Halpern and his colleagues retrospectively evaluated 100 consecutive coronary CT angiography images that were obtained with a 64 detector helical scanner. They reviewed sagital images to: 1) define the position of the breasts and the gantry angulation mandatory to perform a CT examination parallel to the long axis of the heart; and 2) determine the reduction in breast exposure to radiation that might be accomplished by imaging the heart with an angled gantry acquisition.

The standard axial imaging plane for coronary CT angiography mandatory a 6.5cm.

1.8 cm. overlap with the lower breast. The overlap with the lower breast using the angled scan was reduced in half to 3.2 cm 1.6 cm (P<0.001).........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


December 3, 2008, 5:34 AM CT

What makes the heart 'tick-tock'

What makes the heart 'tick-tock'
Scientists have new evidence to show that the heart beats to its own drummer, as per a report in the recent issue of the journal Cell Metabolism, a Cell Press publication. They've uncovered some of the molecular circuitry within the cardiovascular system itself that controls the daily rise and fall of blood pressure and heart rate. The findings might also explain why usually used diabetes drugs come with cardiovascular benefits, as per the researchers.

"This is the first study to demonstrate that a peripheral clock plays a role in the circadian rhythm of blood pressure and heart rate," said Tianxin Yang of the University of Utah and Salt Lake Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

While much progress has been made over the years in understanding the body's master clock in the brain, the new study offers one of the first glimpses into the biological function of peripheral clocks in maintaining the circadian rhythms of tissues throughout the body, the scientists said.

Circadian variations in blood pressure and heart rate are among the best-recognized circadian rhythms of physiology, Yang explained. In humans, there is a sharp rise in blood pressure before awakening, with the highest values around midmorning. A number of cardiovascular events, such as sudden cardiac death, heart attack, and stroke display daily variations with an increased incidence in the early morning hours. It is suspected that those trends correlate with the morning surge in blood pressure.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


December 3, 2008, 5:32 AM CT

Up to 2 drinks per day not linked to heart problems in women

Up to 2 drinks per day not linked to heart problems in women
Women who have up to two alcoholic drinks per day do not appear to be at increased risk of atrial fibrillation (irregular heart beat), but drinking more than that amount is linked to a higher risk, as per a research studyin the December 3 issue of JAMA.

Studies assessing the effects of regular alcohol consumption on the risk of atrial fibrillation have provided inconsistent results, with several studies finding significant associations between moderate to high amounts of alcohol intake and increased risks of atrial fibrillation among men, but not among women. However, these studies were not of adequate size to detect significant associations among women, as per background information in the article.

David Conen, M.D., M.P.H., of Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, and University Hospital, Basel, Switzerland, and his colleagues analyzed data from a completed randomized controlled trial involving 34,715 women participating in the Women's Health Study, to assess the effects of regular alcohol consumption on the risk of atrial fibrillation. The participants were older than 45 years and had no atrial fibrillation at the start of the study and underwent follow-up from 1993 to October 2006. Alcohol consumption was assessed via questionnaires at the beginning of the trial and at 48 months of follow-up and was grouped into 4 categories: 0 drinks per day, greater than 0 and less than 1, 1 or more and less than 2, and 2 or more drinks per day. Atrial fibrillation was self-reported on the yearly questionnaires and subsequently confirmed by electrocardiogram and medical record review.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


December 3, 2008, 5:30 AM CT

Brand-name drugs not superior to generic drugs

Brand-name drugs not superior to generic drugs
Contrary to the perception of some patients and physicians, there is no evidence that brand-name drugs are clinically superior to their generic counterparts, according to an article in the December 3 issue of JAMA, which examined studies comparing the effectiveness of generic vs. brand-name drugs for treating cardiovascular diseases.

"The problem of rising prescription drug costs has emerged as a critical policy issue, straining the budgets of patients and public/private insurers and directly contributing to adverse health outcomes by reducing adherence to important medications. The primary drivers of elevated drug costs are brand-name drugs, which are sold at high prices during a period of patent protection and market exclusivity after approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)," the authors write. To control spending, many payers and clinicians have encouraged substitution of inexpensive bioequivalent generic versions of these drugs after the brand-name manufacturer's market exclusivity period ends.

Some patients and physicians have expressed concern that generic drugs may not be equivalent in their effectiveness. "Brand-name manufacturers have suggested that generic drugs may be less effective and safe than their brand-name counterparts. Anecdotes have appeared in the lay press raising doubts about the efficacy and safety of certain generic drugs," the authors note.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


December 3, 2008, 5:28 AM CT

Surgery to treat medication-resistant epilepsy

Surgery to treat medication-resistant epilepsy
Persons with temporal lobe epilepsy who do not respond to medicine could receive a substantial gain in life expectancy and quality of life by undergoing surgery of the temporal lobe part of the brain, as per an analysis published in the December 3 issue of JAMA.

Despite currently available anti-epileptic drugs, 20 percent to 40 percent of all patients with epilepsy do not respond to medical management. Temporal lobe epilepsy is the most common form of epilepsy and the most likely to be medically non-responsive, and these patients are at increased risk of premature death, as per background information in the article. An alternative form of therapy is temporal lobe resection (procedure in which brain tissue in the temporal lobe is cut away). Patients becoming seizure free after anterior (toward the front) temporal lobe resection have reduced death rates relative to patients continuing to have seizures.

"Studies have reported the effectiveness of temporal lobe resection since the 1950s, yet a minority of patients are being referred to surgery and those only after an average of 20 years of illness. For adolescents and young adults, this delay may be especially significant during a critical period in their psychosocial development," the authors write.

Hyunmi Choi, M.D., M.S., of the Columbia University Medical Center, New York, and his colleagues conducted an analysis using a simulation model to estimate the effect of anterior temporal lobe resection vs. continued medical management on life expectancy and quality-adjusted life expectancy among patients with medication-resistant temporal lobe epilepsy. The model incorporated possible surgical complications and seizure status and was populated with health-related quality-of-life data obtained directly from patients and data from the medical literature.........

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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