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March 4, 2006, 9:16 PM CT

Call From The Dying Fat Cells

Call From The Dying Fat Cells The smaller fat cells from normal-weight mice (top) have fewer macrophages (the dark-bordered areas) than fat cells from obese mice (bottom).
Researchers have known that immune cells are responsible for most of the inflammatory chemicals that are released within fat tissue--but they haven't known why. Now a study published by Agricultural Research Service-funded researchers shows that white blood cells, called macrophages, appear to rush to dead fat cells to mop them up, the same way they surround a splinter lodged in skin.

The study, authored by doctor Andrew Greenberg, cell biologist Martin Obin and his colleagues, was reported in the Journal of Lipid Research. Both researchers are with the Obesity and Metabolism Laboratory at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University in Boston, Mass.

The scientists found that as people gain weight, fat cells gradually enlarge and eventually break down and die. When obesity continues over a period of time, a cycle occurs in which new fat cells form to store the added fat, then peak in size and finally die. The study showed that more than 90 percent of the macrophages in the fatty tissue of obese mice and humans are located around these dead fat cells. In addition, as the fat cells get bigger, the prevalence of macrophages increases proportionally.........

Posted by: Scott      Permalink     

March 4, 2006, 9:11 PM CT

Fighting Weight Gain a Different Way

Fighting Weight Gain a Different Way Volunteers in the Every Size approach were asked to find an enjoyable, appropriate form of physical activity, such as walking. The focus was on improving health, not losing weight.
Education and coaching centered on health-rather than on weight loss-may help chronic dieters improve their blood pressure, cholesterol and other health indicators.

That's as per a research studydocumented earlier in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association and newly summarized in an obesity-focused issue of Agricultural Research magazine. The magazine is published by the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief research agency.

ARS chemist Nancy Keim and physiologist Marta Van Loan, both with ARS' Western Human Nutrition Research Center in Davis, Calif., collaborated with University of California-Davis scientists for the study.

Seventy-eight obese women, aged 30 to 45, who volunteered for the investigation were assigned to either a health-centered team or a weight-loss-focused team. The teams met for specialized, 90-minute educational sessions weekly for the first six months of the year-long study, then met for six once-a-month sessions.

Both groups were instructed in nutrition basics. But women on the weight-loss track were taught how to monitor their weight and control their eating, while the other volunteers focused on how to build self-esteem and to recognize and follow the body's natural, internal cues to hunger and fullness.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink     

March 3, 2006, 7:20 AM CT

Confusable Drug Names

Confusable Drug Names
Was that Xanex or Xanax? Or maybe Zantac? If you're a health care professional you'd better know the difference--mistakes can be fatal.

An estimated 1.3 million people in the United States alone are injured each year from medicine errors, and the U.S. Federal Drug Administration (FDA) has been working to reduce the possibilities of these errors, such as a documented case in which a patient needed an injection of Narcan but received Norcuron and went into cardiac arrest.

A few years ago, the FDA turned to Project Performance Corporation (PPC), a U.S. software company, to ensure they don't approve the names of new drugs that may easily be confused with any one of the more than 4,400 drugs that have already been approved.

PPC looked at the problem and then, based on a tip from a professor at the University of Maryland, turned to Dr. Greg Kondrak, a professor in the University of Alberta Department of Computing Science.

"During my PhD research, I wrote a program called ALINE for identifying similar-sounding words in the world's languages. The program incorporates techniques developed in linguistics and bioinformatics," Kondrak said. "At the time some people criticized it because they felt it wouldn't ever have a practical application".

PPC analyzed Kondrak's program and felt it might help with their project. Kondrak gave them ALINE and then created a new program for them, BI SIM, which analyzes and compares the spelling of words.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source

March 3, 2006, 6:43 AM CT

Vitamin E Sends Mixed Messages

Vitamin E Sends Mixed Messages
One of the most powerful antioxidants is truly a double-edged sword, say scientists at Ohio State University who studied how two forms of vitamin E act once they are inside animal cells.

In the past couple of decades, a slough of studies has looked at the benefits of vitamin E and other antioxidants. While a considerable amount of this research touts the advantages of consuming antioxidants, some of the studies have observed that in certain cases, antioxidants, including vitamin E, may actually increase the potential for developing heart disease, cancer and a host of other health problems.

This study provides clues as to why this could happen, say Jiyan Ma, an assistant professor of molecular and cellular biochemistry, and his colleague David Cornwell, an emeritus professor of molecular and cellular biochemistry, both at Ohio State.

The two men led a study that compared how the two most common forms of vitamin E -- one is found primarily in plants like corn and soybeans, while the other is found in olive oil, almonds, sunflower seeds and mustard greens - affect the health of animal cells. The main difference between the two forms is a slight variation in their chemical structures.

In laboratory experiments, the kind of vitamin E found in corn and soybean oil, gamma-tocopherol, ultimately destroyed animal cells. But the other form of vitamin E, alpha-tocopherol, did not. (Tocopherol is the scientific name for vitamin E.).........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source

March 3, 2006, 6:34 AM CT

Marital Harmony And Heart Health

Marital Harmony And Heart Health
Hardening of the coronary arteries is more likely in wives when they and their husbands express hostility during marital disagreements, and more common in husbands when either they or their wives act in a controlling manner.

Those are key findings of a study of 150 healthy, older, married couples - mostly in their 60s - conducted by Professor Tim Smith and other psychology experts from the University of Utah. Smith was scheduled to present the findings Friday March 3 in Denver during the annual meeting of the American Psychosomatic Society, which deals with the influence of psychological factors on physical health.

"Women who are hostile are more likely to have atherosclerosis [hardening of the coronary arteries], particularly if their husbands are hostile too," Smith says. "The levels of dominance or control in women or their husbands are not correlation to women's heart health."

"In men, the hostility - their own or their wives hostility during the interaction - wasn't correlation to atherosclerosis," he adds. "But their dominance or controlling behavior - or their wives dominance - was correlation to atherosclerosis in husbands." Smith summarizes: "A low-quality relationship is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease."

Smith conducted the study with University of Utah psychology experts Cynthia Berg, a professor; Bert Uchino and Paul Florsheim, both associate professors; and Gale Pearce, a Utah postdoctoral fellow now on the faculty of Westminster College in Salt Lake City.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source

March 1, 2006, 11:41 PM CT

Obese People Are More Sensitive To Pain

Obese People Are More Sensitive To Pain
Obese people may be more sensitive to pain than people who aren't obese, a new study suggests.

All of the older adults who completed the study had osteoarthritis of the knee, a disease that causes inflammation and extreme pain in the knees.

Participants were given a mild electrical stimulation on their left ankle to measure their pain reflex. The stimulus was given before and after the participants took part in a 45-minute coping skills training session that included a progressive muscle relaxation exercise.

The obese patients showed a greater physical response to the electrical stimulation than did the non-obese people, both before and after the training session. This indicates they had a lower tolerance for the painful stimulation despite reporting, in questionnaires, that they felt no more pain than non-obese people.

"The relaxation procedure helped both groups cope with pain," said Charles Emery, the study's lead author and a professor of psychology at Ohio State University. "Additionally, our tests showed both groups had higher physical pain thresholds after the relaxation session. But the obese participants still had a lower threshold for tolerating the pain".

Emery and colleagues presented their findings on March 4 in Denver at the annual meeting of the American Psychosomatic Society.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source

March 1, 2006, 11:29 PM CT

Procedure works for irregular heartbeat

Procedure works for irregular heartbeat
People who have endured the effects and risks of an irregular heartbeat for years can get long-lasting relief from a procedure that takes less than two hours, a definitive new study shows.

In the March 2 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, scientists from the University of Michigan Cardiovascular Center and the San Raffaele Hospital in Milan, Italy report the results of a rigorous study of radiofrequency catheter ablation for the chronic form of the most common heart-rhythm disorder: atrial fibrillation.

Eventhough the therapy has shown promise for several years in studies by U-M scientists and others, the new paper gives conclusive evidence of catheter ablation's positive effects on heart rhythm, symptoms, quality of life and heart function -- even in the most difficult-to-treat chronic atrial fibrillation patients.

In all, 74 percent of study participants who had the procedure were free of their irregular heartbeat a year afterward, and did not need rhythm-regulating drugs. They reported a steep drop in the severity of symptoms, and their hearts' left upper chambers returned to normal size. No side effects were reported, though some of the patients needed a second procedure to fully treat their heart rhythm disturbance.

"We have shown objectively, and with rigorous follow-up, that this procedure is a very good option for patients with symptomatic, chronic atrial fibrillation who otherwise may have to live with atrial fibrillation for the rest of their lives," says lead author Hakan Oral, M.D., an associate professor of medicine at the U-M Medical School and member of a U-M Cardiovascular Center team that has treated more than 2,000 atrial fibrillation patients using catheter ablation.........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source

March 1, 2006, 11:21 PM CT

Whites more likely than blacks to die soon after spouse's death

Whites more likely than blacks to die soon after spouse's death
White Americans are far more likely than their black counterparts to die soon after the death of a spouse, as per new research from Harvard University. The longitudinal study of 410,272 elderly American couples indicates that the "widowhood effect" -- the increased probability of death among new widows and widowers -- is large and enduring among white couples but undetectable among black couples, suggesting that blacks may somehow manage to extend marriage's well-documented health benefits into widowhood.

The results, by Harvard sociologists Felix Elwert and Nicholas A. Christakis, are reported in the recent issue of American Sociological Review, available March 1.

"The health effects of a spouse's death differ radically between blacks and whites," says Elwert, a doctoral student in sociology. "We found good evidence of the widowhood effect among white couples: Men were 18 percent more likely to die shortly after their wives' deaths, and women were 16 percent more likely to die shortly after their husbands' deaths. By contrast, the estimated effect of a black spouse's death on the mortality of his or her surviving spouse is essentially zero."

Upon marrying, blacks and whites appear to receive the same health benefits, which prior research has attributed to factors such as emotional support, economic well-being, caretaking when ill, enhanced social support and kinship, and the promoting of healthy behaviors and discouraging of risk-taking. Elwert and Christakis suggest such benefits may be longer-lasting for blacks, persisting even after a spouse's death.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source

March 1, 2006, 11:16 PM CT

HPV Infection Is The Top Risk Factor For Cervical Cancer

HPV Infection Is The Top Risk Factor For Cervical Cancer
Human papillomavirus (HPV) was found to be the main risk factor associated with increased incidence of an unusual type of cervical cancer called cervical adenocarcinoma, as per a research studyin the March 1 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

The incidence of cervical adenocarcinoma has increased in recent years, even in countries with widespread screening programs, with incidence doubling in relation to all other cervical cancers between 1973 and 1996. HPV is a well-established cause of cervical squamous cell cancer, the most common type of cervical cancer worldwide. Prior studies have suggested HPV may also cause cervical adenocarcinoma, but those studies were small and did not provide information on the role of other factors in the development of this cancer.

To investigate the links between HPV and cervical adenocarcinoma in a multicenter, international sample of women, Xavier Castellsague, M.D., at the Institut CatalĂ  d'Oncologia in Barcelona, Spain, and his colleagues conducted a pooled analysis of eight case-control studies of cervical cancer conducted in countries in Africa, South America, and Southeast Asia. Women had been interviewed to determine potential risk factors for cervical cancer, and all received a pelvic examination as well as testing for HPV and cervical cancer.........

Posted by: Emily      Permalink         Source

March 1, 2006, 11:11 PM CT

Duty In Iraq Causes High Use Of Mental Health Services

Duty In Iraq Causes High Use Of Mental Health Services
About one-third of U.S. military personnel from the war in Iraq access mental health services after their return home, as per a research studyin the March 1 issue of JAMA.

The U.S. military has conducted population-level screening for mental health problems among all service members returning from deployment to Afghanistan, Iraq, and other locations. To date, no systematic analysis of this program has been conducted, and studies have not assessed the impact of these deployments on mental health care utilization after deployment, as per background information in the article. Such information is an important part of measuring the mental health burden of the current war and assuring that there are adequate resources to meet the mental health care needs of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Prior research conducted after other military conflicts has shown that deployment and exposure to combat result in increased risk of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), major depression, substance abuse, functional impairment in social and employment settings, and the increased use of health care services.

Charles W. Hoge, M.D., of Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Silver Spring, Md., and his colleagues conducted a study to determine the relationship between deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan and mental health care use during the first year after return home. The scientists analyzed the results of the Post-Deployment Health Assessment completed by Army soldiers and Marines between May 1, 2003, and April 30, 2004, on return from deployment to Afghanistan (n=16,318), Iraq (n=222,620), and other locations (n=64,967). Health care utilization and occupational outcomes were measured for 1 year after deployment or until leaving the service if this occurred sooner. The assessment screened for such conditions as posttraumatic stress disorder, major depression, and other mental health problems.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         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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