March 5, 2008, 9:23 PM CT
Chemistry of Mother-daughter conflict
A combination of negative mother-daughter relationships and low blood levels of serotonin, an important brain chemical for mood stability, may be lethal for adolescent girls, leaving them vulnerable to engage in self-harming behaviors such as cutting themselves.
New University of Washington research indicates that these two factors in combination account for 64 percent of the difference among adolescents, primarily girls, who engage in self-harming behaviors and those who do not.
Girls who engage in self harm are at high risk for attempting suicide, and some of them are dying, said Theodore Beauchaine, a UW associate professor of psychology and co-author of a new study. There is no better predictor of suicide than prior suicide attempts.
The paper, co-authored by Sheila Crowell, one of his doctoral students, appears in the current issue of the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology.
Beauchaine said the relationship between the level of mother-daughter conflict and self-harming behavior was not strong. There was a stronger relationship between serotonin levels and self-harming behavior. But when both factors were considered together, the relationship to self-harming behaviors was very strong.
Most people think in terms of biology or environment rather than biology and environment working together, he said. Having a low level of serotonin is a biological vulnerability for self-harming behavior and that vulnerability increases remarkably when it is paired with maternal conflict.........
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March 5, 2008, 8:58 PM CT
Imatinib During Pregnancy May Cause Infant Abnormalities
While doctors already face a number of challenges in treating patients with cancer, treating pregnant women with the disease, in particular, can be quite difficult as studies suggest that certain therapies can harm developing fetuses. As per the results of a study prepublished recently online in Blood, the official journal of the American Society of Hematology, expectant women treated with imatinib, a usually used treatment for chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), may be at moderate risk of developing fetal abnormalities.
Imatinib was introduced for the therapy of CML in 1998 and has become a primary treatment for most patients, turning the previously fatal disease into a mostly chronic condition in the last decade. The drug's label warns that women of child-bearing age should avoid pregnancy while taking the drug based on earlier studies that suggested it may penetrate the placenta and cause damage to developing cells.
The retrospective study evaluated records of 180 cases of CML therapy during pregnancy reported to Novartis, the Hammersmith Hospital in London, or The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center to determine the real risks of imatinib treatment. Specific outcomes data were available for 125 of the cases, as 55 cases had incomplete pregnancy-related data.........
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March 5, 2008, 8:51 PM CT
Tests that prevent colorectal cancer
New consensus colorectal cancer guidelines released recently state for the first time that the primary goal of colorectal cancer screening is cancer prevention. Prior guidelines have given equal weight to tests for detecting cancer and preventing cancer. By removing polyps from the large bowel, colonoscopy is the only screening test that also prevents colorectal cancer.
Colorectal cancer prevention should be the primary goal of screening, said Nicholas LaRusso, MD, AGAF, president, American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) Institute. Detection and removal of premalignant lesions is essential to improve the health of Americans.
The guidelines, which represent the most current scientific evidence and expert opinion available, are a joint effort of the American Cancer Society, the American College of Radiology and the U.S. Multi-society Task Force (comprised of the American College of Gastroenterology, the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) Institute and the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy).
While the AGA Institute considers optical colonoscopy the definitive screening and therapy procedure for colorectal cancer, we support all clinically proven options for colorectal cancer screening. There are a number of tests available for screening and everyone age 50+ should talk with their doctor about what test is available to them, said John I. Allen, MD, MBA, AGAF chair of the AGA Institute Clinical Practice and Quality Management Committee.........
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March 5, 2008, 8:45 PM CT
Excessive drinking among the elderly
One out of ten older adults on Medicare reports drinking more alcohol than is recommended, as per a new study from Brandeis University.
Even though alcohol problems are more prevalent in younger people, a substantial proportion of elderly adults are consuming alcohol in amounts that exceed recommended guidelines, said co-author of study Elizabeth Merrick, senior scientist at Brandeis Universitys Heller School for Social Policy and Management. The study sheds light on a complex problem that has received scant attention and is often missed by health care and other providers, she said.
Reported in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, the study reviewed data about 12,413 Medicare beneficiaries aged 65 or older. Merrick and her colleagues observed that 9 percent engaged in unhealthy drinkingconsuming more than thirty drinks per month, or drinking four or more drinks on any day in a typical month. The study, based on a 2003 Medicare survey, also reported that two-thirds of beneficiaries do not drink, while one-quarter drink within the recommended guidelines.
As per the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) and the American Geriatrics Society, risky drinking among those 65 years and older occurs when a person consumes more than seven drinks per week or more than three drinks on a single day. OOther guidelines suggest that the single-occasion drink limit should be no more than two drinks, and that women should drink even lower overall amounts than men.........
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March 5, 2008, 8:23 PM CT
Knock-out Punch For Antibiotic Resistance
MIT graduate student and synthetic biologist Timothy Lu has won the $30,000 Lemelson-MIT Student Prize for inventing processes to combat bacterial infections by enhancing the effectiveness of antibiotics. Photo courtesy / Lemelson-MIT Program
MIT graduate student and synthetic biologist Timothy Lu is passionate about tackling problems that pose threats to human health. His current mission: to destroy antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Today, the 27-year-old M.D. candidate and Ph.D. in the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology received the prestigious $30,000 Lemelson-MIT Student Prize for inventing processes that promise to combat bacterial infections by enhancing the effectiveness of antibiotics at killing bacteria and helping to eradicate biofilm - bacterial layers that resist antimicrobial therapy and breed on surfaces, such as those of medical, industrial and food processing equipment.
Bacterial infections can lead to severe health issues. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the antibiotic-resistant bacterium MRSA, or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, causes approximately 94,000 infections and contributes to 19,000 deaths annually in the United States, through contact that can occur in a variety of locations, including schools, hospitals and homes. Bacteria can also infect food, including spinach and beef, and damage industrial equipment.
Lu explained that fewer pharmaceutical companies are inventing new antibiotics due to long development times, high failure rates and large costs. As per the Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development, the cost to develop a new drug is $930 million (based on the value of the dollar in 2006). These factors, coupled with a decline in the number of prescriptions authorized for antibiotics, constrain profits. "Antibiotic-resistant bacteria are also becoming more prevalent," Lu noted. "My inventions enable the rapid design and production of inexpensive antibacterial agents that can break through the defenses of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and bacterial biofilms".........
Posted by: Mark Read more Source
March 4, 2008, 6:20 PM CT
Chemoradiation for pancreatic cancer better
The addition of the drug gemcitabine with chemoradiation for the therapy of patients who had surgery for pancreas cancer was linked to a survival benefit, eventhough this improvement was not statistically significant, as per a research studyin the March 5 issue of JAMA.
Despite the potential benefits of surgically removing cancer involving the pancreas, there is a 50 percent to 85 percent rate of local relapse linked to liver and intra-abdominal failure and a 5-year survival of less than 20 percent, as per background information in the article. The frequency and pattern of failure makes the combination of added postoperative chemotherapy and radiation an important consideration. The drug gemcitabine has been shown to improve outcomes compared with the drug fluorouracil.
William F. Regine, M.D., of the University of Maryland Medical Center, Baltimore, and his colleagues conducted a study to assess if the addition of gemcitabine to the supplemental therapy of fluorouracil chemoradiation (chemotherapy plus radiation) improved survival for patients who had a portion of their pancreas removed as a therapy for pancreas cancer (surgical resection). The randomized controlled phase 3 trial included 451 patients enrolled between July 1998 and July 2002 at 164 U.S. and Canadian institutions, with follow-up through August 2006. Patients received chemotherapy with either fluorouracil (n = 230) or gemcitabine (n = 221) for three weeks previous to chemoradiation treatment and for 12 weeks after chemoradiation treatment (with fluorouracil).........
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March 4, 2008, 6:18 PM CT
Costly placebo works better than cheap one
A 10-cent pill doesn't kill pain as well as a $2.50 pill, even when they are identical placebos, as per a provocative study by Dan Ariely, a behavioral economist at Duke University.
"Physicians want to think it's the medicine and not their enthusiasm about a particular drug that makes a drug more therapeutically effective, but now we really have to worry about the nuances of interaction between patients and physicians," said Ariely, whose findings appear as a letter in the March 5 edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Ariely and a team of collaborators at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology used a standard protocol for administering light electric shock to participants wrists to measure their subjective rating of pain. The 82 study subjects were tested before getting the placebo and after. Half the participants were given a brochure describing the pill as a newly-approved pain-killer which cost $2.50 per dose and half were given a brochure describing it as marked down to 10 cents, without saying why.
In the full-price group, 85 percent of subjects experienced a reduction in pain after taking the placebo. In the low-price group, 61 percent said the pain was less.
The finding, from a relatively small and simplified experiment, points to a host of larger questions, Ariely said.........
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March 4, 2008, 5:36 PM CT
Study uncovers cause of flu epidemics
The exchange of genetic material between two closely related strains of the influenza A virus may have caused the 1947 and 1951 human flu epidemics, as per biologists. The findings could help explain why some strains cause major pandemics and others lead to seasonal epidemics.
Until now, it was believed that while reassortment when human influenza viruses swap genes with influenza viruses that infect birds causes severe pandemics, such as the Spanish flu of 1918, the Asian flu of 1957, and the Hong Kong flu of 1968, while viral mutation leads to regular influenza epidemics. But it has been a mystery why there are sometimes very severe epidemics like the ones in 1947 and 1951 that look and act like pandemics, even though no human-bird viral reassortment event occurred.
There was a total vaccine failure in 1947. Scientists initially thought there was a problem in manufacturing the vaccine, but they later realized that the virus had undergone a tremendous evolutionary change, said Martha Nelson, lead author and a graduate student in Penn States Department of Biology. We now believe that the 1947 virus did not just mutate a lot, but that this unusual virus was made through a reassortment event involving two human viruses.
So we have observed that the bipolar way of looking at influenza evolution is incorrect, and that reassortment can be an important driver of epidemic influenza as well as pandemic influenza, said Nelson, whose teams findings are reported in the current issue of PLoS Pathogens. We have discovered that you can also have reassortment between viruses that are much more similar, that human viruses can reassort with each other and not just with bird viruses.........
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March 4, 2008, 5:34 PM CT
Achievement gaps within racial groups
A University of Michigan study finds that when it comes to achievement gaps within racial groups, catching up over time is common.
In the first known study to analyze reading and math achievement within racial groups during elementary school, scientists found high achievers within all groups and that a substantial proportion of children catch up to the high achievers in their groups over time.
The study, presented today in Washington, D.C. at the annual meeting of the Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness, analyzes data on a national sample of 8,060 students, collected at four points in time, starting in kindergarten and ending in the spring of fifth grade.
"We found significant achievement gaps within racial and ethnic groups," said Pamela Davis-Kean, a developmental psychology expert at the U-M Institute for Social Research (ISR) who conducted the study with U-M post-doctoral fellow Justin Jager.
"We also found a significant proportion of students who caught up to the high achievers in their groups by the end of fifth grade, particularly in reading. This shows that schooling does have an impact in closing the achievement gap for substantial numbers of children".
In reading, the scientists observed that there were high-performing groups in all races. "This is a fact that sometimes gets lost in discussions of the achievement gap between white students and students of other races," Davis-Kean said.........
Posted by: Scott Read more Source
March 4, 2008, 5:28 PM CT
Cholesterol-lowering power of dietitian visits
Worried about your cholesterol? You may want to schedule a few appointments with a registered dietitian, to get some sound advice about how to shape up your eating habits, as per a new national study led by University of Michigan Health System researchers.
Not only are you likely to lower your cholesterol levels, you may be able to avoid having to take cholesterol medication, or having to increase your dose if youre already taking one. And youll probably lose weight in the process, which also helps your heart.
The new results, reported in the recent issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, are based on data from 377 patients with high cholesterol who were counseled by 52 registered dietitians at 24 sites in 11 states.
In the group of 175 patients who started the study with triglycerides less than 400 milligrams per deciliter of blood (mg/dL), and who had their cholesterol measured before they changed or added medication, 44.6 percent either reduced their levels of bad cholesterol by at least 15 percent, or reached their cholesterol goal.
The results reflect progress in approximately eight months, after three or more appointments with a dietitian. But the results add further evidence that medical nutrition treatment, as it is called, can make a big difference in a patients life.........
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