October 19, 2007, 4:58 AM CT
What's been causing your knee to ache? Smurfs!
A new clinical trial seeks to predict who is most likely to experience osteoarthritis, and to test whether an experimental therapy can prevent it altogether. Physicians are setting their sights on people who sustain a knee injury, seeking to understand why nearly half of them will later go on to develop osteoarthritis, a debilitating condition that causes pain and disability in more than 20 million Americans each year.
The work is funded by a special class of National Institutes of Health grants awarded to research programs that show promise of quickly translating basic science discoveries into patient therapys. In this case, initial research has shown that an enzyme which controls the response of cells to growth factors may in fact be a major cause of osteoarthritis. The enzymes are called "Smad Ubiquitination Regulatory Factors, or, smurfs, but unlike the small, loveable blue cartoon characters, scientists think that a particular form of these regulatory enzymes, smurf2, might in fact be responsible for Americas leading cause of disability.
We think that smurf2 controls whether or not a cartilage cell matures and calcifies into hard bone, which is a very good thing when turned on in those areas of the body where we are supposed to have hard bone, said Randy Rosier, M.D., Ph.D., professor of Orthopaedics and director of Research Translation in Orthopaedics at the University of Rochester Medical Center. But when smurf2 is active in joint cartilage, it may set off a chain reaction that leads to the steady deterioration of the smooth gliding surface tissue, or cartilage, which comprises the joint surface. When this occurs, the cartilage breaks down and severely damages the weight-bearing surface of a joint. Or, put another way, activation of smurf2 in the joint cartilage appears to significantly contribute to the onset of osteoarthritis.........
Posted by: Mark Read more Source
October 19, 2007, 4:55 AM CT
Exposure to sunlight may decrease breast cancer risk
A research team from the Northern California Cancer Center, the University of Southern California, and Wake Forest University School of Medicine has observed that increased exposure to sunlight which increases levels of vitamin D in the body.
-- may decrease the risk of advanced breast cancer.
In a study reported online this week in the American Journal of Epidemiology, the scientists observed that women with high sun exposure had half the risk of developing advanced breast cancer, which is cancer that has spread beyond the breast, in comparison to women with low sun exposure. These findings were observed only for women with naturally light skin color. The study defined high sun exposure as having dark skin on the forehead, an area that is commonly exposed to sunlight.
The researchers used a portable reflectometer to measure skin color on the underarm, an area that is commonly not directly exposed to sunlight. Based on these measurements, they classified the women as having light, medium or dark natural skin color. Scientists then compared sun exposure between women with breast cancer and those without breast cancer. Sun exposure was measured as the difference in skin color between the underarm and the forehead.
In women with naturally light skin pigmentation, the group without breast cancer had significantly more sun exposure than the group with breast cancer. The fact that this difference occurred only in one group suggests that the effect was due to differences in vitamin D production and wasnt just because the women were sick and unable to go outdoors. In addition, the effect held true regardless of whether the cancer was diagnosed in the summer or in the winter. The difference was seen only in women with advanced disease, suggesting that vitamin D may be important in slowing the growth of breast cancer cells.........
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October 19, 2007, 4:52 AM CT
When Less is More: Too Much Happiness May Be Too Much
Are you happy? Well don't try to be happier; you might become less happy. That is the gist of a multi-cultural study published this month in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
The study by University of Virginia psychology professor Shigehiro Oishi and his colleagues at three other institutions observed that, on average, European-Americans claim to be happy in general - more happy than Asian-Americans or Koreans or Japanese - but are more easily made less happy by negative events, and recover at a slower rate from negative events, than their counterparts in Asia or with an Asian ancestry. Conversely, Koreans, Japanese, and to a lesser extent, Asian-Americans, are less happy in general, but recover their emotional equilibrium more readily after a setback than European-Americans.
"We observed that the more positive events a person has, the more they feel the effects of a negative event," Oishi said. "People seem to dwell on the negative thing when they have a large number of good events in their life.
"It is like the person who is used to flying first class and becomes very annoyed if there is a half-hour delay. But the person who flies economy class accepts the delay in stride".
Oishi, a social psychology expert who grew up in Japan and then moved to the United States at 23, is interested in comparing how people from East Asia and the United States respond to the daily events of life.........
Posted by: JoAnn Read more Source
October 17, 2007, 9:32 PM CT
Feeling sleepy is all in your genes
Genes responsible for our 24 hour body clock influence not only the timing of sleep, but also appear to be central to the actual restorative process of sleep, as per research reported in the online open access journal BMC Neuroscience. The study identified changes in the brain that lead to the increased desire and need for sleep during time spent awake.
"We still do not know why we benefit from sleep, or why we feel tired when we are 'lacking' sleep, but it seems likely that sleep serves some basic biological function for the brain such as energy restoration for brain cells or memory consolidation." Explains Dr Bruce O'Hara of the University of Kentucky, one of the neuroresearchers who conducted the research. "We have observed that clock gene expression in the brain is highly corcorrelation to the build-up of sleep debt, while prior findings have linked these genes to energy metabolism. Together, this supports the idea that one function of sleep is correlation to energy metabolism".
To explore the correlation between the expression of clock genes and sleep, three inbred strains of mice with different genetic make-ups were utilized, and which had previously been shown to differ in their response to sleep deprivation by lead author, Dr. Paul Franken of Stanford University and Lausanne University. In this study, mice were first sleep deprived during the daytime period when mice normally sleep then allowed recovery sleep. Changes in gene expression for three clock genes were examined throughout the brain during both phases. Clock gene expression generally increased the more the mice were kept awake and decreased when sleep was allowed, supporting that these genes play a role in the regulation of the need for sleep. Generally, the expression of the clock-genes Period-1 and Period-2, increased at a faster rate in mouse strains with the poorest quality of recovery sleep suggesting that the detailed dynamic changes in expression may underlie individual differences in sleep length and sleep quality. The changes in gene expression were also shown to occur in a number of different brain regions supporting the idea that sleep is a global brain function.........
Posted by: JoAnn Read more Source
October 17, 2007, 9:19 PM CT
Newly qualified doctors feel well prepared
In comparison to 2000, significantly more newly qualified doctors think that their medical school training prepares them well for their first clinical posts, as per research reported in the online open access journal, BMC Medical Education.
The research team, led by Judith Cave from the Royal Free and University College Medical School in London, sent out questionnaires in 2005 to all doctors newly qualified from UK medical schools; more than half of those who responded said that their experience at medical school had prepared them well for their first year of employment. A similar survey conducted in 2000/2001 observed that only about third of doctors qualifying in those years felt prepared for their first year of work.
Between 2000 and 2005 graduates' feeling of "preparedness" increased at 19 medical schools, dropped in three schools and stayed stable in one school.
These findings suggest that the significant changes in the curriculum and teaching methods at most medical schools are beginning to have an impact. In 1993 the General Medical Council published the report Tomorrow's Doctors. It highlighted the need for changes in the medical curriculum and teaching methods (e.g. problem-based learning) so that students would be "properly prepared for their first day as a Pre Registration House Officer". This study found evidence that these changes are having an effect: in the 2005 cohort, a statistically significantly higher percentage of the respondents from schools with new-style courses felt well prepared.........
Posted by: Janet Read more Source
October 17, 2007, 9:12 PM CT
Aspirin: just for men?
First it was an apple, now it is an aspirin a day that may keep the doctor away. Aspirin has become standard for heart attack prevention, but research reported in the online open access journal BMC Medicine suggests that this may really be a man's drug.
Researchers have long puzzled over why the protective effects of aspirin vary so widely between clinical trials. Some trials show no difference between aspirin and placebo, whilst others report that aspirin reduces the risk of a heart attack by more than 50%.
This latest study, from The James Hogg iCAPTURE Centre for Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Research, highlights the influence of gender on aspirin's protective powers. Investigators examined the results of 23 previously published clinical trials for the effect for aspirin in heart attack prevention, involving more than 113,000 patients. The authors then analysed how much the ratio of men to women in these trials affected the trials' outcomes.
"Trials that recruited predominantly men demonstrated the largest risk reduction in non-fatal heart attacks," says Dr Don Sin, one of the study's authors. "The trials that contained predominately women failed to demonstrate a significant risk reduction in these non-fatal events. We observed that a lot of the variability in these trials seems to be due to the gender ratios, supporting the theory that women may be less responsive to aspirin than men for heart protection".........
Posted by: Daniel Read more Source
October 17, 2007, 9:06 PM CT
Using honey to heal wounds
Surgeons are being advised to consider the supermarket as well as the drugs cupboard when it comes to effective wound healing, as per a research review reported in the recent issue of IJCP, the International Journal of Clinical Practice.
And patients whove undergone surgery should ask their doctors whether they should apply honey to their wounds to speed up healing and reduce infection.
Honey is one of the oldest foods in existence and was an ancient remedy for wound healing explains lead author Dr Fasal Rauf Khan from North West Wales NHS Trust in Bangor. It was found in the tomb of King Tutankhamun and was still edible as it never spoils.
Honey is enjoying a revival as more reports of its effectiveness are published, he adds.
Scientists started to document the wound healing properties of honey in the early 20th century, but the introduction of antibiotics in 1940 temporarily halted its use.
Now concerns about antibiotic resistance, and a renewed interest in natural remedies, has prompted a resurgence in the antimicrobial and wound healing properties of honey.
Honey has many properties that make it effective against bacterial growth, including its high sugar content, low moisture content, gluconic acid which creates an acidic environment and hydrogen peroxide. It has also been shown to reduce inflammation and swelling.........
Posted by: George Read more Source
October 17, 2007, 8:29 PM CT
Height affects how people perceive their quality of life
Your height in adult life significantly affects your quality of life, with short people reporting worse physical and mental health than people of normal height. This large, peer evaluated study, which appears in Clinical Endocrinology, shows that adult height is associated with how good a person thinks their health is. Short people judge their state of health to be significantly lower than their normal height peers do.
The data for this study came from the 2003 Health Survey for England, carried out by the UK Department of Health(1). In this survey, participants filled out a health-related quality of life (HRQoL) questionnaire and a nurse measured their height. Researchers, led by Senior Health Economist Torsten Christensen at Novo Nordisk A/S in Denmark, used this data to assess the relationship between height and HRQoL. A persons health-related quality of life refers to their perceived physical and mental health over time. The questionnaire does not measure how good a persons health actually is; it measures how good a person thinks their health is. The questionnaire examined five areas of well-being: mobility, self-care, usual activities, pain/discomfort, and anxiety/depression. The scientists controlled the results in the study for the effects of other well-known indicators of HRQoL such as age, gender, body weight, long-standing illness and social class. In total, this study used the results from 14 416 respondents.........
Posted by: JoAnn Read more Source
October 17, 2007, 8:21 PM CT
HPV test beats Pap in detecting cervical cancer
A new study led by McGill University scientists shows that the human papillomavirus (HPV) screening test is far more accurate than the traditional Pap test in detecting cervical cancer. The first round of the Canadian Cervical Cancer Screening Trial (CCCaST), led by Dr. Eduardo Franco, Director of the Division of Cancer Epidemiology at McGill's Faculty of Medicine, concluded that the HPV test's ability to accurately detect pre-malignant lesions without generating false negatives was 94.6%, as opposed to 55.4% for the Pap test.
The results of the study, first-authored by Dr. Francos former McGill PhD student Dr. Marie-Hlne Mayrand of the Centre hospitalier de l'Universit de Montral (CHUM), with colleagues from McGill, Universit de Montral, the Newfoundland and Labrador Public Health Laboratory and McMaster University, are reported in the October 18 issue of The New England Journal (NEJM).
CCCaST is the first randomized controlled trial in North America of HPV testing as a stand-alone screening test for cervical cancer. The first round followed 10,154 women aged 30 to 69 in Montreal, Quebec and St. John's, Newfoundland who were enrolled in the study from 2002 to 2005. The study was funded by a grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).
The study concluded that while the HPV test's sensitivity was nearly 40% greater than the Pap tests, the Pap did, however, slightly edge out HPV for accuracy on the specificity scale -- its ability to accurately detect pre-malignant lesions without generating false positives -- at 96.8% versus 94.1%.........
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October 17, 2007, 8:12 PM CT
Young toddlers think in terms of the whole object
Seeing through a child's eyes can help parents better introduce new words to young toddlers, as per research from Purdue University.
"This new research shows that as young toddlers learn language, they are more likely to focus on objects rather than parts," said George Hollich, an assistant professor of psychological sciences. "Because of this bias, children automatically assume you are talking about an object. So, when labeling more than just an object, adults need to do something special such as pointing at the part while saying its word or explaining what the item does".
For example, when introducing a young toddler to a dog, the child automatically thinks of the object as a dog. If adults want to talk about the dog's tail or its bark, then they need to be more explicit when communicating with the child. If adults do not make this effort, it can hinder the child's understanding, said Hollich, who also is director of Purdue's Infant Language Lab.
The study appears in the fall issue of the journal Developmental Psychology. Hollich studied 12- and 19-month-olds because their vocabularies are still in the beginning stages of development. Forty-eight children took part in the study. During the experiments, the young toddlers were introduced to familiar objects, such as a cup with a lid and a shoe with laces, as well as two made up objects that were wood cutouts and could be separated. One part of these wood cutouts was designed to be more attractive to a child. Even with the part's visual appeal, Hollich found the children paid more attention to the entire object than to the part.........
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