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July 26, 2007, 4:55 AM CT

Unsubstantiated Claims About Cancer

Unsubstantiated Claims About Cancer
A new study from American Cancer Society scientists finds a surprising number of Americans believe scientifically unsubstantiated claims concerning cancer, and that population segments suffering the greatest burden of cancer are the most likely to be misinformed.

Evidence indicates that healthy behavior depends in part on an accurate assessment of proven risk factors. Prior research has shown that undue concern over unproven risk factors may distract some attention from proven risk factors and might actually result in decisions that are bad for the health. For the current report, reported in the September 1 issue of CANCER, a peer evaluated journal of the American Cancer Society, scientists led by Kevin Stein, PhD in the American Cancer Societys Behavioral Research Center used a nationwide telephone survey to assess the prevalence of unproven beliefs about cancer in the U.S.

The survey included 12 inaccurate or unlikely statements about cancer risk, risk factors, and prevention, some of which frequently show up in email inboxes, and asked participants to identify the statements as true or false. While more than two-thirds of the participants were able to identify seven of the 12 statements as false, five of the 12 statements were endorsed as true by at least a quarter of the respondents, and for seven of the statements, uncertainty was higher than 15 percent. Among the surveys findings:........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source

July 25, 2007, 10:28 PM CT

Options For Patients With Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Options For Patients With Inflammatory Bowel Disease
The use of biologic agents for the therapy of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) may benefit patients, but doctors need to consider the potential associated side effects in determining therapy course, as per a consensus paper published in this months issue of Gastroenterology, the official journal of the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) Institute. IBD includes Crohns disease and ulcerative colitis, both frequently disabling diseases that affect approximately one million people both in the U.S. and Europe.

The conference examined the literature on monoclonal antibodies or antibody fragments currently approved by the FDA or likely to be approved in the near future. The participants of the Consensus Development Conference, medical experts in IBD convened by the AGA Institute, sought to answer a series of questions about the therapy of IBD with these biologics based on expert presentations of current scientific knowledge about IBD and subsequent discussion. Co-chairs of the conference were Stephen B. Hanauer, MD, professor of medicine and clinical pharmacology at the University of Chicago, and Paul Rutgeerts, MD, AGAF, professor of medicine, University Hospital Gasthuisberg, Belgium.

The management of inflammatory bowel disease has been significantly affected by the development of biologic therapies, as per Dr. Hanauer. Biologic therapies provide new options and hope for a number of patients, however they may be accompanied by serious side effects, both when used alone or in combination with other therapys. Gastroenterologists need to review and consider the side effects and significant costs when determining the best therapy course for their patients.........

Posted by: Sue      Read more         Source

July 25, 2007, 10:23 PM CT

Improving Accuracy Of Thyroid Hormone Testing

Improving Accuracy Of Thyroid Hormone Testing
Scientists at Georgetown University Medical Center have developed a fast and accurate way to measure a major hormone released by the thyroid gland ? an advance they say may help in the therapy of a number of women who have overactive or underactive thyroid glands.

As per the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, approximately 27 million Americans have thyroid glands that produce too little of the hormone, thyroxine, a condition known as hypothyroidism, or else the gland produces too much, known as hyperthyroidism. Thyroxine regulates the body's metabolism, and hypothyroidism, linked to fatigue and weight gain, is much more common than hyperthyroidism, characterized by weight loss. More than eight out of 10 patients with thyroid disease are women, and nearly one out of 50 women in the United States is diagnosed with hypothyroidism during pregnancy.

In order to treat these conditions, physicians need to know how much synthetic thyroxine to either give patients or how much natural hormone should be blocked, and there have long been concerns that the common "immunoassay" test now in use worldwide is neither specific nor very accurate. To date, the immunoassay test has been used to measure those levels in women known to have abnormal levels of thyroid function based on a screening test.........

Posted by: Sue      Read more         Source

July 25, 2007, 5:25 AM CT

Eat fish -- especially if you drink high levels of alcohol

Eat fish -- especially if you drink high levels of alcohol
Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are just that; an "essential" part of the total fat intake necessary for a healthy human diet. Most EFAs come from plants, but some are animal-sourced. A new study has observed that men who binge drink have substandard intake of n-3 fats, one of two types of EFAs, indicating poor dietary choices with negative long-term health consequences.

Results are reported in the recent issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research

"Essential fatty acids are important building blocks of living cells, making up a substantial part of cell walls," explained Norman Salem, Jr., chief of the Laboratory of Membrane Biochemistry & Biophysics at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism "EFAs also have a number of biological functions, and a lack of them leads to loss of growth and development, infertility, and a host of physiological and biochemical abnormalities." Salem is also the study's corresponding author.

The most important EFAs are polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), said J. Thomas Brenna, professor of human nutrition and of chemistry & chemical biology at Cornell University. Especially two types, Brenna noted: the omega-6 PUFA linoleic acid (LA), also called n-6 fats, and the omega-3 PUFA linolenic acid (ALA), also called n-3 fats. "Most Americans consume adequate amounts of LA in their diets through the use of vegetable oils, but tend to have low intakes of ALA," said Brenna.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source

July 25, 2007, 5:21 AM CT

Additional mammogram readers improve breast cancer detection

Additional mammogram readers improve breast cancer detection
Mammogram readings by both radiologists and non-doctor technologists improve breast cancer detection rates, as per a research studyin the July 24 Journal of the National Cancer Institute

Studies have shown that breast cancer detection may increase when mammograms are evaluated by both a radiologist and a mammographic technologist. In The Netherlands, a breast cancer screening program was implemented in the 1990s that mandatory all mammograms be read by two radiologists. Mammographic technologists were also trained to look for abnormalities.

Lucien Duijm, M.D., Ph.D., of Catharina Hospital in Eindhoven, The Netherlands, and his colleagues examined whether adding readings by two technologists to the standard examination by two radiologists would improve cancer detection rates and the accuracy of the readings.

The breast cancer detection rate increased 6.8% (from 5.27 to 5.63 cancers per 1,000 women screened) when the mammograms were read by two technologists and two radiologists. And adding two technologists only slightly increased the number of false positives, compared with readings by a pair of radiologists alone.

Our results indicate that all technologist-positive readings should be considered for [further] examination because this subset of screening mammograms shows a high prevalence of breast cancer, the authors write.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source

July 25, 2007, 5:19 AM CT

Success rates for prostate cancer depend on experience of surgeon

Success rates for prostate cancer depend on experience of surgeon
Surgeons performing operations to remove patients prostate glandsthe primary therapy for prostate cancergo through a steep learning curve, as per a research studypublished online July 24 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute As the surgeons gain more experience performing the operation, called a radical prostatectomy, the chance that patients prostate cancer will reoccur goes down.

The idea that more experienced surgeons perform more successful surgeries is a widely held belief. But there have been few data to support this idea, and it has not been previously shown whether a surgeons experience makes a large or small difference on their patients outcome.

Andrew Vickers, Ph.D., of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York and his colleagues analyzed data from 72 surgeons at four institutions and 7,765 of their patients with prostate cancer treated with radical prostatectomies between 1987 and 2003. They measured surgeons experience by the number of times they had performed the procedure before each operation.

More surgical experience was linked to a greater likelihood that the patients cancer would not return after their operation. The learning curve for this procedure was very steepthere was dramatic improvement in patient outcomes as surgeons experience increased up to 250 operations, after which increasing experience had little influence on cancer recurrence. Patients treated by inexperienced surgeons (for example, those with 10 previous operations) were nearly 70% more likely to have evidence of recurrence of their prostate cancer within five years than those whose surgeons had performed 250 operations (17.9% vs. 10.7%).........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source

July 25, 2007, 5:04 AM CT

Autism: Women Carry the Disorder and Age is a Risk Factor

Autism: Women Carry the Disorder and Age is a Risk Factor
A new model for understanding how autism is acquired has been developed by a team of scientists led by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) and Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Autism is a developmental disorder, characterized by language impairments, social deficits, and repetitive behaviors. The scientists analyzed data on autism incidence and found a previously unrecognized pattern. The pattern can be explained by assuming that spontaneous germ-line mutation is a significant cause of the disorder. Parents, particularly women, who acquire the mutation - but do not exhibit severe symptoms of the disorder - have a 50% chance of passing the mutation on to their children. Sons often show the most severe symptoms.

Spontaneous mutations are changes in a chromosome that alter genes. Germ-line mutations are newly acquired in a germ cell of a parent, and sometimes are transmitted to offspring at conception. Men and women are equally as likely to acquire a spontaneous mutation that can cause autism, but autism is three times more likely in men, making women the more likely carriers of new mutations. "The fact that germ-line mutations increase with age places older parents at a higher risk of having children with autism, explaining a pattern that has been recently observed," said CSHL co-author of the study Michael Wigler, Ph.D.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source

July 25, 2007, 5:01 AM CT

Metabolic Defect In Liver That Can Lead To Obesity

Metabolic Defect In Liver That Can Lead To Obesity
Scientists at the Monell Chemical Senses Center have identified a genetically-transmitted metabolic defect that can lead to obesity in some individuals. The defect involves decreased production of liver enzymes needed to burn fat and may help to explain why some people become obese while others remain thin.

The global obesity epidemic is believed to be caused in part by the increased availability and intake of high calorie foods rich in fat and carbohydrates. These foods promote weight gain in humans and other animals, leading to a diet-induced obesity. The propensity to gain weight and become obese when consuming a high-fat diet is at least partially controlled by genes.

Results of this study help explain the interaction between genes and diet that underlies diet-induced obesity, comments senior author Mark Friedman. They also point to a way to identify individuals at risk for dietary obesity, perhaps even during childhood before the development of unhealthy eating habits.

The current study, reported in the recent issue of Metabolism, demonstrates that genetic susceptibility to diet-induced obesity is due to a reduced capacity to burn fat.

Fat is one of the fuels that the bodys cells burn to provide energy. This process, known as fat oxidation, takes place inside mitochondria, the cells power plants for generating energy.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source

July 23, 2007, 6:37 PM CT

Latest drugs improve survival for metastatic breast cancer

Latest drugs improve survival for metastatic breast cancer
Newer drug therapies available since the 1990s, in particular aromatase inhibitors, improve the survival of women with metastatic breast cancer in the general population, as per a new study. Reported in the September 1, 2007 issue of CANCER, a peer-evaluated journal of the American Cancer Society, the study is the first to demonstrate that drugs made available to the general public in the 1990s have had a significant impact on population-based metastatic breast cancer survival rates, confirming findings from earlier clinical trials. Survival improved by approximately 30 percent as systemic treatment, in particular aromatase inhibitors, became more widely used.

Currently, women with metastatic breast cancer survive an average of approximately 24 months. That marks a significant improvement from the estimated 18 month survival noted in the early part of 1980s. While popular opinion suggests that this improved survival rate is due to newly developed drugs, a direct link has not been clearly shown. A few studies suggest overall survival improvements are linked to the new therapies, but their conclusions are not necessarily generalizable to the general population or to specific new systemic therapies.

Dr. Stephen Chia of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver and co-researchers compared outcomes of 2150 women diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer in the Canadian province of British Columbia between 1991 and 2001. In analyzing temporal trends in outcome, the researchers primary goal was to evaluate whether new hormonal and chemotherapeutic drugs approved for public use actually had an impact on survival outside the clinical trial setting. In addition, because not all patients in the general population received any palliative systemic treatment, they were also able to make inferences about drug efficacy versus no therapy.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source

July 23, 2007, 5:23 PM CT

Hopelessness key component of mood disorder

Hopelessness key component of mood disorder
Theres depression, and then theres double depression.

Sound bad" It is, as per Thomas Joiner, Florida State University Distinguished Research Professor and the Bright-Burton Professor of Psychology, who has identified hopelessness as a distinguishing feature of double depression in a new paper reported in the Journal of Affective Disorders. The finding could help therapists diagnose and treat the mood disorder.

Double depression occurs when an individual who suffers from dysthymia, a persistent case of mild depression marked by low energy, falls into a major depressive state. It is not a new concept, but psychology experts know little about the characteristics that distinguish double depression from dysthymia or major depression alone, as per Joiner.

Its clinically important because it is under-recognized and harder to treat than either dysthymia or major depression by themselves, Joiner said. The hopelessness result is significant, and it suggests that therapists should particularly focus on this feature early and often in the therapy of double-depressed patients.

Joiner, along with FSU doctoral student Kathryn Gordon, Joan Cook from the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Philadelphia and Michel Herson from Pacific University in Oregon, studied the psychological assessments of 54 adults who entered a community-based psychiatric outpatient facility for non-psychotic adults ages 55 and older. Questionnaires were given to patients before starting therapy to measure depression, hopelessness, anxiety and their sense of control over their own lives.........

Posted by: JoAnn      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. Archives of health news blog

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