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April 26, 2006, 8:06 PM CT

Cultural Approach Holds The Key To Tackling Obesity

Cultural Approach Holds The Key To Tackling Obesity
Health professionals need to use more than tape measures and scales to define and tackle obesity, as per a paper in the latest Journal of Advanced Nursing.

A research review carried out by Maryanne Davidson from Yale University, USA, has discovered that a number of women don't make the link between high weight and poor health and that culture plays a big role in how positively they see themselves.

She reviewed key papers published over a 10-year period to see how health professionals and Black and White American women define obesity and to identify differences in attitudes.

This revealed that while health professionals used quantitative methods, such as Body Mass Index measurements based on the height to weight ratio, women are more likely to base their ideal weight on cultural criteria.

"My review revealed that Black American participants defined obesity in positive terms, relating it to attractiveness, sexual desirability, body image, strength or goodness, self esteem and social acceptability" says Davidson. "In addition they didn't view obesity as cause for concern when it came to their health."

White Americans, conversely, expressed completely the opposite view.

"They defined obesity in negative terms, describing it as unattractive, not socially desirable, associated with negative body image and decreased self-esteem and being socially unacceptable.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


April 26, 2006, 7:46 PM CT

Cure for cancer worth $50 trillion

Cure for cancer worth $50 trillion
A new study, would be published in a forthcoming issue of the Journal of Political Economy, calculates the prospective gains that could be obtained from further progress against major diseases. Kevin M. Murphy and Robert H. Topel, two University of Chicago researchers, estimate that even modest advancements against major diseases would have a significant impact - a 1 percent reduction in mortality from cancer has a value to Americans of nearly $500 billion. A cure for cancer would be worth about $50 trillion.

"We distinguish two types of health improvements - those that extend life and those that raise the quality of life," explain the authors. "As the population grows, as incomes grow, and as the baby-boom generation approaches the primary ages of disease-related death, the social value of improvements in health will continue to rise."

A number of critiques of rising medical expenditures focus on life-extending procedures for persons near death. By breaking down net gains by age and gender, Murphy and Topel show that the value of increased longevity far exceeds rising medical expenditures overall. Gains in life expectancy over the last century were worth about $1.2 million per person to the current population, with the largest gains at birth and young age.

"An analysis of the value of health improvements is a first step toward evaluating the social returns to medical research and health-augmenting innovations," write the authors. "Improvements in life expectancy raise willingness to pay for further health improvements by increasing the value of remaining life."........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source


April 26, 2006, 7:38 PM CT

Mothers' Drinking Shrinks Fetal Brain

Mothers' Drinking Shrinks Fetal Brain
Routine ultrasounds show that heavy drinkers who continue to imbibe after learning they are pregnant may carry fetuses with reduced skull and brain growth compared to those of abstainers or quitters, says a new study.

Eventhough the alcohol-exposed babies' growth remained within normal range, the findings reveal effects of drinking on the developing human brain. The study will appear in the recent issue of Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

"What this tells us is that the earlier you abstain in a pregnancy, the better the outcome," said lead author Nancy Handmaker, a University of New Mexico clinical psychology expert with expertise in maternal-fetal health.

Alcohol use during pregnancy is a leading preventable cause of birth defects and developmental disabilities in the United States, as per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder -- which includes a range of cognitive, emotional and behavioral problems -- may be present in as a number of as one of every 100 births.

The study authors obtained routine ultrasound data from 167 pregnant women who had reported a history of hazardous drinking before pregnancy. Of these, 97 were classified as heavy drinkers. The study compared the fetal growth measures among drinkers who quit after learning of their impending motherhood to those among women who continued to drink.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source


April 26, 2006, 7:30 PM CT

How Exercise Helps Heart Failure Patients

How Exercise Helps Heart Failure Patients
Aerobic training is associated with a reversal of abnormal hormonal patterns that underlie a number of of the debilitating symptoms of heart failure, as per a new study in the May 2, 2006, issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

"A feasible home-based and progressively adjusted aerobic training strategy is able to overcome the limitation of pharmacological therapy in antagonizing neurohormonal activation in heart failure patients, likely contributing to a significant improvement in quality of life, and possibly to the positive prognostic effects," said Claudio Passino, M.D. from the CNR Institute of Clinical Physiology in Pisa, Italy.

It is well-known that exercise training helps a number of heart failure patients feel better and improves their ability to function more normally. This study indicates that aerobic training may produce these benefits by reversing the abnormal production of certain neurohormones that result in a number of of the severe symptoms of heart failure.

After a heart attack or other cardiac event, the body responds by increasing the production of B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP). This neurohormonal activation, as it is called, helps the heart continue to pump blood in the short run by constricting blood vessel and retaining sodium in cardiac cells.........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source


April 26, 2006, 6:52 PM CT

Virtual 'forest' used to measure navigation skills

Virtual 'forest' used to measure navigation skills
A new study recently published in Journal of Vision, an online, free access publication of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO), shows that an individual's navigation skills can be measured by using an immersive virtual "forest" in which peripheral visual field losses are simulated.

The study, conducted by scientists from the Lions Vision Center, Wilmer Eye Institute, Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Md., involved varying the study participants' visual field of view and recording several performance measures such as walking time and path efficiency. Participants were then identified as either "good navigators" or "poor navigators." The results suggest that poor navigators rely on visual information to solve the task while good navigators are able to use visual information in conjunction with an internal representation of the environment. As a result of these differences, the performance of the poor navigators improved more than the performance of the good navigators as the amount of available visual information increased.

"By simulating peripheral visual field losses during navigation, we were able to create a paradigm that systematically controls the amount of external visual information available to participants. This allows us to directly test the extent to which participants rely on this type of information, and identify those individuals who are able to rely on alternative sources of information to learn about their environments," said lead researcher Francesca Fortenbaugh, BS. "Knowing what types of information individuals use when navigating and how performance deteriorates when that information is removed is important not only for understanding human navigation in general, but also for the development of rehabilitation protocols for individuals with visual impairments."........

Posted by: Mike      Permalink         Source


April 25, 2006, 7:58 PM CT

In Utero Exposure To Urban Air Pollutants

In Utero Exposure To Urban Air Pollutants
Prenatal exposure to air pollutants in New York City can adversely affect child development, as per the results of a study released recently by the Columbia Center for Children's Environmental Health (CCCEH) at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health. Prior studies have shown that the same air pollutants can reduce fetal growth (both weight and head circumference at birth), but this study, which examined a group of the same children at three years of age, is the first to reveal that those pollutants can also affect cognitive development during childhood.

The study will be published online Monday, April 24, 2006, and can be accessed at the following URL: http://www.ehponline.org/docs/2006/9084/abstract.html.

Investigators at the Center studied a sample of 183 three-year-old children of non-smoking African-American and Dominican women residing in the neighborhoods of Washington Heights, Central Harlem, and the South Bronx. They found that exposure during pregnancy to combustion-related urban air pollutants known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) were linked to significantly lower scores on mental development tests and more than double the risk of developmental delay at age three. Such delay in cognitive development is indicative of greater risk for performance deficits in language, reading, and math in the early school years.........

Posted by: Emily      Permalink         Source


April 25, 2006, 7:53 PM CT

Predicting Success In Cancer Treatment

Predicting Success In Cancer Treatment
Chemotherapy drugs, given intravenously, are the mainstay of the fight against cancer. But doctors know that sometimes these drugs effect a complete cure, while other times they can be nearly ineffective. How to turn some of those failures into successes? A team of researchers at the Weizmann Institute, headed by Prof. Hadassa Degani of the Biological Regulation Department, has come up with a non-invasive, magnetic resonance imaging- (MRI-) based method for predicting possible problems. The findings of their studies on animals, which appear today in the journal Cancer Research, may, in the future, influence therapy regimes for millions of cancer patients.

Intravenous infusions rely on the bloodstream to carry drugs to where they are needed. Normally, a material such as a chemotherapy drug crosses into a tissue on the principle of concentration equalization -- the material diffuses from an area of high concentration to one of low concentration until the concentrations become equal all around. However, in some cancers, even though the material "wants" to spread out evenly, fluids inside the tumor may be exerting pressure to prevent this. When the internal pressure created by these fluids rises above a certain level, it acts as a barrier that keeps drugs and other materials from entering the tumor.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source


April 25, 2006, 7:49 PM CT

Girls Better Than Boys On Timed Tests

Girls Better Than Boys On Timed Tests
New research attempting to shed light on the evergreen question--just how do male and female brains differ?--has found that timing is everything.

In a study involving over 8,000 males and females ranging in age from 2 to 90 from the across the United States, Vanderbilt University scientists Stephen Camarata and Richard Woodcock discovered that females have a significant advantage over males on timed tests and tasks. Camarata and Woodcock found the differences were especially significant among pre-teens and teens.

"We found very minor differences in overall intelligence. But if you look at the ability of someone to perform well in a timed situation, females have a big advantage," Camarata said. "It is very important for teachers to understand this difference in males and females when it comes to assigning work and structuring tests. To truly understand a person's overall ability, it is important to also look at performance in un-timed situations. For males, this means presenting them with material that is challenging and interesting, but is presented in smaller chunks without strict time limits."

The findings are especially timely, with more attention being paid by parents, educators and the media to the troubling achievement gap between males and females in U.S. schools.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source


April 25, 2006, 7:45 PM CT

The Beat Goes On During Open-heart Surgery

The Beat Goes On During Open-heart Surgery
In a Stanford Hospital surgery room on a recent afternoon, heart surgeon Kai Ihnken demonstrated how he repositions the beating heart while it's still inside the chest of a 78-year-old man undergoing triple bypass surgery. The surgeon reached into the chest, lifted the beating heart out, then craned his neck to the side, just so, searching for the right spot on the back of the heart to attach the next vessel.

Ihnken, MD, clinical assistant professor of cardiothoracic surgery at the Stanford University School of Medicine, was using an innovative technique called "beating-heart" surgery for coronary bypass. It replaces the more conventional use of a heart-lung machine, which allows for stopping the heart during surgery.

"It's very, very technically demanding," said Ihnken discussing the challenge of working on a still-beating heart shortly before he stepped into surgery to do so. "Surgeons don't want to put up with the stress. But it's so beneficial for the patient".

Despite its reputation as a technically tricky procedure, beating-heart surgery has garnered renewed attention recently as the trend toward less-invasive methods of heart surgery grows stronger.

"We need to be researching this," said Robert Robbins, MD, chair of the cardiothoracic surgery department at the School of Medicine, who hired Ihnken this summer to lead investigations into the potential benefits of less-invasive surgeries such as beating-heart and robotic heart surgery. "We need to make it available to our patients".........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source


April 25, 2006, 7:37 PM CT

Selenium Offers No Heart-Disease Protection

Selenium Offers No Heart-Disease Protection
Selenium does not protect against cardiovascular disease, despite its documented antioxidant and chemopreventive properties, analysis of a randomized placebo-controlled clinical trial covering 13 years has shown.

The selenium-CVD association was a secondary endpoint in the Nutritional Prevention of Cancer Trial, which was designed primarily to determine if selenium supplementation could prevent the recurrence of non-melanoma skin cancer.

Results of the trial, the only large randomized clinical trial to date to examine selenium supplementation alone in the prevention of CVD, appear in the April 15 issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology. Saverio Stranges, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of social and preventive medicine in the School of Public Health and Health Professions, University at Buffalo, is first author.

"Our results extend prior research based on smaller intervention trials focusing on cardiovascular risk factors," said Stranges. "Our findings are consistent with those from prior studies that have shown no beneficial effect of selenium supplementation in combination with other antioxidants on the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease".

Several antioxidants, vitamins C and E in particular, that were thought to play a role in preventing heart disease based on findings based on observation have turned out not to be protective in randomized clinical trials, and selenium now has joined this group.........

Posted by: Daniel      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.

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