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September 9, 2008, 8:54 PM CT

Calcium during pregnancy reduces harmful blood lead levels

Calcium during pregnancy reduces harmful blood lead levels
Pregnant women who take high levels of daily calcium supplements show a marked reduction in lead levels in their blood, suggesting calcium could play a critical role in reducing fetal and infant exposure.

A new study at the University of Michigan shows that women who take 1,200 milligrams of calcium daily have up to a 31 percent reduction in lead levels.

Women who used lead-glazed ceramics and those with high bone lead levels showed the largest reductions; the average reduction was about 11 percent, said Howard Hu, chair of the Department of Environmental Health Sciences at the School of Public Health.

Hu is the principal investigator of the study and one of the senior authors on the paper, which is available online in Environmental Health Perspectives, the official journal of the U.S. National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences. Hu, who is also affiliated with the University of Michigan School of Medicine, said this is the first known randomized study examining calcium supplementation on lead levels in pregnant women.

"We and others have previously shown that during pregnancy, mothers can transfer lead from their bones to their unborn -- with significant adverse consequences--making maternal bone lead stores a threat even if current environmental lead exposures are low," Hu said. "This study demonstrates that dietary calcium supplementation during pregnancy may constitute a low-cost and low-risk approach for reducing this threat."........

Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source


September 9, 2008, 8:44 PM CT

Eating fish while pregnant and longer breastfeeding

Eating fish while pregnant and longer breastfeeding
Both higher fish consumption and longer breastfeeding are associated with better physical and cognitive development in infants, as per a research studyof mothers and infants from Denmark. Maternal fish consumption and longer breastfeeding were independently beneficial.

"These results, together with findings from other studies of women in the U.S. and the United Kingdom, provide additional evidence that moderate maternal fish intake during pregnancy does not harm child development and may on balance be beneficial," said Assistant Professor Emily Oken, lead author of the study.

The study, which appeared in the recent issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, was conducted by scientists from the Department of Ambulatory Care and Prevention of Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care and the Maternal Nutrition Group from the Department of Epidemiology at Statens Serum Institut in Copenhagen, Denmark. These findings provide further evidence that the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish and compounds in breast milk are beneficial to infant development.

The study team looked at 25,446 children born to mothers participating in the Danish Birth Cohort, a study that includes pregnant women enrolled from 1997-2002. Mothers were interviewed about child development markers at 6 and 18 months postpartum and asked about their breastfeeding at 6 months postpartum. Prenatal diet, including amounts and types of fish consumed weekly, was assessed by a detailed food frequency questionnaire administered when they were six months pregnant.........

Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source


September 8, 2008, 7:35 PM CT

Spirituality is important to eye patients

Spirituality is important to eye patients
Patients visiting an ophthalmologist report that prayer is important to their well-being and that God plays a positive role in illness, as per a report in the recent issue of Archives of Ophthalmology, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

"Ethical medical practice includes doctor behavior, beyond technical competence, that promotes healing and optimizes the patient's welfare," the authors write as background information in the article. "The doctor who respects the patient as a person with dignity must acknowledge the patient's value system to establish a relationship that permits conversations that nourish trust for joint therapeutic decision making. For a number of patients, religion and spirituality is important to their value system and may represent a unique source of motivation and coping with life events, including the experience of personal illness (illness refers to the response of a patient to a disease)".

Gina Magyar-Russell, Ph.D., of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, and his colleagues distributed a brief questionnaire to 124 patients visiting the office of one ophthalmologist. The 14-question survey was completed by the patient and collected without any identifying information, so patients could be assured the answers would not affect their care.........

Posted by: Mike      Read more         Source


September 8, 2008, 6:28 PM CT

'Healthy' individuals may be at risk for heart disease

'Healthy' individuals may be at risk for heart disease
In the face of a growing obesity epidemic in the United States, scientists at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center have new study results that indicate that how much fat a person has is not as important as where that fat is located when assessing risk for cardiovascular events and metabolic disease.

"We are facing an obesity epidemic, which obviously affects a number of things metabolic abnormalities, cardiovascular disease, etc.," said Jingzhong Ding, M.D., lead researcher and an assistant professor of gerontology. "Now we are finding out that where the fat is distributed is of high importance."

The findings of the study, funded by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and the National Institutes of Health, will appear in the recent issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, a publication of the American Society for Nutrition.

For the study, scientists used cardiac and Computerized axial tomography scans to measure multiple fat depots in 398 white and black participants from Forsyth County, N.C., ages 47-86. They observed that the amount of fat a person had deposited around organs and in between muscles (nonsubcutaneous fat) had a direct related to the amount of hard, calcified plaque they had. Calcified plaque itself is not considered risky, but it is linked to the development of atherosclerosis, or the presence of less stable, fatty deposits in the blood vessels that can lead to heart attack and stroke.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


September 8, 2008, 6:24 PM CT

Painkillers lower levels of prostate cancer biomarker

Painkillers lower levels of prostate cancer biomarker
Common painkillers like aspirin and ibuprofen appear to lower a man's PSA level, the blood biomarker widely used by physicians to help gauge whether a man is at risk of prostate cancer.

But the authors of the study, which appears online Sept. 8 in the journal Cancer, caution that men shouldn't take the painkillers in an effort to prevent prostate cancer just yet.

"We showed that men who regularly took certain medications like aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDS, had a lower serum PSA level," said first author Eric A. Singer, M.D., M.A., a urology resident at the University of Rochester Medical Center. "But there's not enough data to say that men who took the medications were less likely to get prostate cancer. This was a limited study, and we do not know how a number of of those men actually got prostate cancer".

Singer's team studied the records of 1319 men over the age of 40 who took part in the 2001-2002 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), a health census conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The team looked at the men's use of NSAIDs such as aspirin and ibuprofen, as well as the painkiller acetaminophen, and at their PSA levels. A man's level of PSA, or prostate-specific antigen, is one of a number of clues that physicians watch to gauge a man's risk of getting prostate cancer.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


September 8, 2008, 6:21 PM CT

Physical activity can blunt effect of obesity-related gene

Physical activity can blunt effect of obesity-related gene
High levels of physical activity can help to counteract a gene that normally causes people to gain weight, as per a new study by scientists at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. They analyzed gene variants and activity levels of the Old Order Amish in Lancaster County, Pa., and observed that the obesity-related FTO gene had no effect on individuals who were the most physically active.

"Our results strongly suggest that the increased risk of obesity due to genetic susceptibility can be blunted through physical activity," the authors conclude. "These findings emphasize the important role of physical activity in public health efforts to combat obesity, especially in genetically susceptible individuals." The results of the study are being reported in the Sept. 8, 2008, issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine

Soren Snitker, M.D., Ph.D., the senior author and an assistant professor of medicine and pediatrics at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, says, "Our study shows that a high level of physical activity can 'level the playing field,' equalizing the risk of obesity between those who have copies of the FTO gene variant and those who don't".

The FTO gene recently has been associated with obesity and increased body mass index, or BMI, in several large-scale studies. More than half of all people of European descent have one or two copies of a variation of this gene, British researchers reported last year. Individuals with two.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


September 8, 2008, 5:26 PM CT

Explaining winter blues

Explaining winter blues
Why do a number of Canadians get the winter blues? In the first study of its kind in the living human brain, Dr. Jeffrey Meyer and his colleagues at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) have discovered greater levels of serotonin transporter in the brain in winter than in summer. These findings have important implications for understanding seasonal mood change in healthy people, vulnerability to seasonal affective disorders and the relationship of light exposure to mood.

CAMH's scientific team discovered that the serotonin transporter levels were significantly higher in all investigated brain regions in individuals studied in fall/winter, in comparison to those studied in spring/summer in a study of healthy subjects. Serotonin transporters remove serotonin so this discovery argues that there is more serotonin removal in the fall/winter as in comparison to spring/summer. Also, the higher serotonin transporter binding values occurred at times when there is less sunlight. This is the first time researchers have found differences in serotonin transporter levels in the brain in fall/winter versus spring/summer.

Serotonin is involved in regulating physical functions such as eating and energy balance, and emotional functions like mood and energy levels. These phenomena vary across the seasons and the molecular background for why this happens was previously unknown. For this study, Dr. Jeffrey Meyer and his team used a world-leading positron emission tomography (PET) technology (originally created at CAMH by Dr. Alan Wilson) to detect these seasonal variations in serotonin transporter binding (the process that removes serotonin) in the living human brain and correlations between serotonin binding and duration of daily sunshine.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


September 4, 2008, 3:59 PM CT

More off-premise alcohol outlets can lead to more injuries

More off-premise alcohol outlets can lead to more injuries
Childhood injuries constitute a serious issue in the United States. In 2001, there were 12,249 deaths among children ages one to 14: injuries were the leading cause, accounting for 33.2 percent of all deaths for children ages one to four, and 39.4 percent of all deaths for children ages five to 14. A new study has observed that numerous off-premise alcohol outlets in neighborhoods can reduce overall guardianship of children's activities, leading to increased injuries.

Results would be reported in the recent issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research and are currently available at Early View.

"Neighborhood areas with high levels of social disorganization can make the children who live there more vulnerable to injury in many ways," explained Bridget Freisthler, assistant professor in the department of social welfare at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and affiliated research scientist at the Prevention Research Center, Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation (PRC/PIRE). This research was a joint project between UCLA and PRC/PIRE.

"Impoverished and disorganized neighborhoods may present more physically dangerous environments," said Freisthler. "Limited social capital restricts their ability to respond to social problems that might endanger children's health and well being. Reduced levels of social control may facilitate risky behaviors, such as playing in dangerous streets or vacant buildings. And, areas that have fewer adults available to monitor and supervise children's activities may further exacerbate problem behaviors".........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


September 3, 2008, 7:06 PM CT

Website review: InsuranceSpecialists.com

Website review: InsuranceSpecialists.com
Whether you're a first-time visitor to MedicineWorld.org, or a frequent reader, you know that the Internet is the best source of quick, easy information about the state of modern medicine, as well as tips to help you prevent common illnesses and improve your general health. It should come as no surprise, then, that the 'net is also the best place to go when you're shopping for health insurance. There are many insurance websites out there, but one we like is InsuranceSpecialists.com.

At InsuranceSpecialists.com you'll find basic information about home and auto insurance, but you'll also find that health insurance is given equal weight. It's got its own page on the main menu, and offers a lot of information, cleanly and clearly presented. It opens with a rundown of HMO vs. PPO, for those who get confused by all the abbreviations, and also includes an explanation of indemnity plans – and that's just on page one. Deeper into the section, you'll find articles that focus on women and healthcare, including important points to consider, like whether you have direct access to an ob/gyn, or if annual mammograms are covered as part of your policy. Since Florida is home to a significant number of older adults, there's also a page devoted to the specific offerings in the Sunshine State, and these are just two of the topics listed in the sidebar.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more


September 3, 2008, 7:02 PM CT

Cholesterol drugs lower risk of stroke for elderly too

Cholesterol drugs lower risk of stroke for elderly too
Elderly people who take a cholesterol drug after a stroke or mini-stroke lower their risk of having another stroke just as much as younger people in the same situation, as per research reported in the September 3, 2008, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

"Even though the majority of strokes and heart attacks occur in people who are 65 and older, studies have observed that cholesterol-lowering drugs are not prescribed as often for older people as they are for younger people," said study author Seemant Chaturvedi, MD, of Wayne State University in Detroit, MI, and a Fellow of the American Academy of Neurology. "These results show that using these drugs is just as beneficial for people who are over 65 as they are for younger people".

The study involved 4,731 people age 18 and older who had a recent stroke or transient ischemic attack, or mini-stroke. The 2,249 people age 65 and older were in one group, with an average age of 72, and the 2,482 people under age 65 made up the other group, with an average age of 54. Within each group, about half of the people received the cholesterol-lowering drug atorvastatin and about half received a placebo. The participants were then followed for an average of four and a half years.........

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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