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March 21, 2006, 8:51 PM CT

Changes To In Utero And Cancer

Changes To In Utero And Cancer
Manipulating the in utero environment may alter the onset of cancers that appear later in the lives of mammals, as per a new University of Toronto study reported in the journal Carcinogenesis.

"We know that cancer-causing agents can travel across the placenta and harm the developing embryo or fetus," says Professor Peter Wells of the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy. "This study provides the first direct evidence that changing the uterus's molecular environment - in this case, by increasing the presence of antioxidants by adding vitamin E to the mice's diet - alters the carcinogenic process in adult life".

Wells and doctoral student Connie Chen worked with pregnant mice that had been genetically altered to lack one or both copies of the p53 gene, which results in a high incidence of cancers among their offspring. Previous to and throughout pregnancy, these mice were given either a normal diet or one supplemented with a high dose of vitamin E. The offspring were then observed for DNA damage and the onset of cancer. Two additional control groups, with both copies of the p53 gene intact, were also used in the experiment, one of which was given the vitamin E supplemented diet.

"Increased levels of vitamin E reduced in utero deaths among the offspring from 40 per cent in the control groups to five per cent in the test groups. In contrast, surprisingly, it also increased the onset of cancer in the offspring," Wells says. "Offspring that were exposed to vitamin E and lack one or both copies of the gene developed cancers nine per cent and 21 per cent faster than the equivalent control groups."........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink


February 22, 2006, 10:25 PM CT

Psychology Of Asthma Response In Children

Psychology Of Asthma Response In Children
While a number of urban children suffer from asthma, those who have high self-esteem and good problem-solving skills may be less likely to have their asthma symptoms interfere with school, a new study finds.

"Our results suggest that in spite of facing asthma symptoms, stressors correlation to urban residence, as well as family life stressors, children's individual characteristics such as higher levels of problem-solving beliefs and self-esteem were associated with fewer school absences, more participation in activities, and less missed sleep," says lead author, Daphne Koinis Mitchell, PhD, with the Bradley Hasbro Children's Research Center (BHCRC) and Brown Medical School.

This study, reported in the December 2005 issue of the Journal of School Health, is an important step towards identifying ways in which school systems can develop plans to help students with asthma improve their academic performance.

Asthma can influence school absences, increase emergency room visits, limit physical activities, and account for sleep loss. If not properly treated, asthma can negatively impact children's ability to learn when in school, the authors write.

But are there are factors that might mitigate these effects? The authors studied a group of urban, school-aged children (and their mothers) with asthma from minority backgrounds.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


February 22, 2006, 10:17 PM CT

Twice-yearly Injections Only To Improve Bone Density

Twice-yearly Injections Only To Improve Bone Density
the world's largest biotechnology company, announced recently the publication of Phase 2 data demonstrating twice-yearly injections of denosumab (previously referred to as AMG 162), a RANK Ligand inhibitor, significantly increased bone mineral density (BMD) in the total hip, lumbar spine, distal 1/3 radius and total body compared to placebo. The results of this one-year study appeared in the Feb. 23, 2006 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. Data results also included an open-label FOSAMAX- (alendronate)* arm of the same clinical trial.

Scientists reported that subcutaneous injections of denosumab significantly increased BMD at the total hip from 1.9 to 3.6 percent in women who were administered the treatment twice yearly as compared with a decrease of 0.6 percent in the placebo group (p<0.001) at one year. The open label FOSAMAX- group receiving 70 mg weekly had an increase of 2.1 percent during the same time frame. Results also indicated that denosumab had a rapid onset of action. A significant decrease in serum levels of C-telopeptide, a biomarker of bone resorption, was achieved within 72 hours after dosing.

"These exciting data suggest that denosumab, when administered in twice-yearly injections, may show promise in the therapy of osteoporosis," said Michael McClung, MD, FACP, principal investigator of the denosumab study, Providence Portland Medical Center, and director of the Oregon Osteoporosis Center, Portland, Ore. "Continued research will further our understanding of the potential of denosumab in bone loss management."........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source


February 20, 2006, 10:15 PM CT

Stress And Risk Of Miscarriage

Stress And Risk Of Miscarriage
Women who exhibit signs of stress are three times more likely to miscarry during the first three weeks of the pregnancy, a recent study of a small population of women found.

Pablo Nepomnaschy and a group of University of Michigan scientists measured the cortisol-a stress induced hormone-levels in urine samples taken three times weekly for a year from 61women in a rural Guatemalan community. Nepomnaschy conducted the fieldwork while he was a Ph.D student at U-M both at the Anthropology Department and the School of Natural Resources and Environment. He is now a post-doctoral fellow at the Epidemiology Branch of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

The Guatemalan study is the first to link increases in cortisol levels to very early-stage pregnancy loss.

As per prior scientific reports anywhere from 31 percent to 89 percent of all conceptions result in miscarriage. Most studies begin when women notice they are pregnant, about six weeks after conception. Most miscarriages, however, are known to happen during the first 3 weeks of pregnancy.

"The only way to capture the first three weeks of pregnancy is to begin collecting their urine from before they become pregnant. That is extremely labor intensive and expensive," Nepomnaschy said.........

Posted by: Emily      Permalink         Source


February 20, 2006, 6:30 PM CT

Proteins That Help Make Healthy Eggs

Proteins That Help Make Healthy Eggs A healthy egg, far left, is surrounded by normal, nurturing granulosa cells. Near left, an ovarian follicle lacking the TAF4b protein results in a misshapen egg and withered granulosa cells whose bonds are broken. Image: Richard Freiman, Brown University
Human eggs rely on handmaidens. Called granulosa cells, they surround eggs and deliver nutrients and hormones. Without granulosa cells, eggs cannot mature and be successfully fertilized.

How do these handmaidens grow? Biologists at Brown University and the University of California-Berkeley have discovered that two proteins - TAF4b and c-Jun - team up to turn on about two dozen genes inside the nuclei of granulosa cells. This subset of genes, in turn, writes the genetic code for proteins that cause granulosa cells to multiply and nurture developing eggs.

The finding, published in an advanced online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, provides an important piece of the reproduction puzzle, and it points to possible drug targets for treating infertility and ovary cancer.

"Thousands of women in this country undergo fertility therapys each year and some have no idea why they can't get pregnant," said Richard Freiman, an assistant professor in the Department of Molecular Biology, Cell Biology and Biochemistry at Brown. "This research gives us important new information about fertility. It's a basic science finding, but it may provide answers for some of these women and, possibly, lead to better in-vitro fertilization therapies".........

Posted by: Emily      Permalink         Source


February 13, 2006, 11:27 PM CT

Stopping Antidepressant Use While Pregnant

Stopping Antidepressant Use While Pregnant
Pregnant women who discontinue antidepressant medications may significantly increase their risk of relapse during pregnancy, a new study funded by the National Institute of Health's National Institute of Mental Health found.

Women in the study who stopped taking antidepressants while pregnant were five times more likely than those who continued use of these medications to experience episodes of depression during pregnancy, reported Lee Cohen, M.D. of Massachusetts General Hospital and his colleagues in the February 1 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Depression is a disabling disorder that has been estimated to affect approximately 10 percent of pregnant women in the United States. Recently there has been concern about the use of antidepressants during pregnancy; however what has not been addressed is the risk of depression recurrence should someone discontinue antidepressant use. This study sheds light on the risk of relapse associated with discontinuing antidepressant treatment during pregnancy.

In the study, Cohen and his colleagues enrolled pregnant women already taking antidepressants and then noted how a number of of the women decided to stop taking their medications. They then assessed the risk of relapse for the women who stopped versus maintained antidepressant treatment.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink     


February 10, 2006, 7:32 AM CT

Use Of Lithium During Pregnancy

Use Of Lithium During Pregnancy
Pregnant women can take lithium safely for control of bipolar disorder as delivery approaches during late pregnancy provided they follow a series of guidelines designed to minimize risk to the developing fetus, as per Emory University School of Medicine scientists writing in a recent issue of the "American Journal of Psychiatry".

Maintaining a therapeutic dose of lithium until right before delivery can help pregnant women avoid symptoms of bipolar disorder without posing undue risks of harm to the fetus, says a team of scientists led by D. Jeffrey Newport, MD, MS, MDiv, assistant professor of psychiatry at the Emory University School of Medicine and associate director of the Emory Women's Mental Health Program. Co-author Zachary N. Stowe, MD, is an associate professor of psychiatry at Emory and serves as the program's director.

The Women's Mental Health Program is dedicated to the research and therapy of mental illness during pregnancy and the postpartum period. The study, which followed women receiving care through the program, is described in the November 2005 issue of the journal.

Bipolar disorder is equally distributed among men and women, and affects about 1 percent of the population. In both men and women, it is most likely to appear in the early twenties -- significantly, a woman's most common child-bearing years.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink    Source


February 6, 2006, 11:39 PM CT

Memory Problems At Menopause

Memory Problems At Menopause
Women who feel that they become more forgetful as menopause approaches shouldn't just "fuhgetabout it": There may be something to their own widespread reports that they're more likely to forget things as menopause approaches, say researchers who reported results from a small study today at the annual meeting of the International Neuropsychological Society in Boston.

The team from the University of Rochester Medical Center found that the issue is not really impaired memory. Instead, the team found a link between complaints of forgetfulness and the way middle-aged, stressed women learn or "encode" new information.

"This is not what most people think of traditionally when they think of memory loss," said co-author Mark Mapstone, Ph.D., assistant professor of Neurology. "It feels like a memory problem, but the cause is different. It feels like you can't remember, but that's because you never really learned the information in the first place".

The findings come from Mapstone and Miriam Weber, Ph.D., memory experts at the University's Memory Disorders Clinic who are seeing more and more middle-aged women who say they are having problems with forgetfulness.

The team found nothing to support the idea that such women are on their way to developing Alzheimer's disease, and they didn't find any problem with what most people consider "memory." But they did make a finding that helps explain why women in their 40s and 50s frequently say they're having memory problems: It's possible that their changing moods and hectic lives make it harder to keep track of everything.........

Posted by: Emily      Permalink


February 5, 2006, 10:30 PM CT

Pregnancy With Female Fetus Causes More Asthma Attacks

Women with asthma who are carrying a female fetus are more likely to experience worse asthma symptoms than asthmatic women carrying a male fetus, scientists at Yale School of Medicine report in the recent issue of American Journal of Epidemiology.

"This is one of the first and largest studies to investigate the effect of fetal sex on the severity of the mother's asthma, and one of the largest to investigate the effect of fetal sex on any disease of the mother," said senior author Michael B. Bracken, Susan Dwight Bliss Professor of Epidemiology in the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at Yale School of Medicine.

The scientists monitored 702 pregnant women throughout southern New England who were trained to assess their lung function for 10-day intervals at selected points in pregnancy. Lung function and a large number of other factors that might influence severity of the mother's asthma were recorded automatically.

Asthma worsened in mothers with either male or female fetuses until about 30 weeks gestation, after which there was an improvement in lung function. However, throughout pregnancy, mothers with a male fetus had 10 percent better lung function.

"This difference due to sex is potentially important but needs to be placed in the context of other factors which have a greater impact on the severity of mother's asthma, including inadequate medical management of asthma symptoms, and whether the mother was a smoker or not," said Bracken, who also co-directs the Yale Center for Perinatal, Pediatric and Environmental Epidemiology.........

Posted by: Emily      Permalink


January 26, 2006, 12:10 AM CT

Anxious fathers make caesarean ops more painful

Anxious fathers make caesarean ops more painful
In a study involving 65 women scheduled for an elective caesarean, scientists found that the way their birth partners felt during the operation influenced the womans own levels of fear and anxiety about the operation.

This increased the amount of pain the woman felt immediately after the operation, which could affect her immediate recovery as well as potentially influence other related factors such as breast feeding and parent-child bonding.

The lead scientists from the University of Bath (Dr Keogh) and Imperial College London (Dr Anita Holdcroft ) suggest that helping prepare the birth partner for a caesarean, both at antenatal classes and before the operation, could help reduce the pain experienced by the mother and improve the birth experience.

One in four babies born in the UK is now delivered by caesarean section (CS), with a number of hospitals delivering almost 30 per cent in this way. Fear of pain during childbirth is often cited as one of the contributory factors for the increasing rate of CS delivery.

But despite the popular notion that caesarean deliveries are the 'easy option', with respect to overall pain experiences compared with labour pain, this may not be the case.

"Caesarean sections involve major surgery and are often performed whilst the mother is awake under regional anaesthesia which numbs the lower part of the body, said Dr Ed Keogh from the University of Bath.........

Posted by: Emily      Permalink



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Did you know?
The addition of testosterone to hormone therapy in women after menopause enhances their sexual function. However, it may also reduce HDL cholesterol (the "good" cholesterol) in women, according to a systematic review of current evidence."If the reduction in HDL had been associated with an increase in triglycerides [fatty acids] or LDL cholesterol it would be of great concern," said Dr. Susan Davis, professor of medicine at Monash University, Melbourne, Australia, and study co-author "However, as an isolated finding the significance is difficult to interpret." She added, "Testosterone has not been found to alter other coronary heart disease risk factors.".

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