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October 29, 2007, 10:10 PM CT

Ethnic Differences in Sleep Quality and Blood Pressure

Ethnic Differences in Sleep Quality and Blood Pressure
In the United States, African Americans have higher blood pressure and are at greater risk of high blood pressure than whites. In addition, African Americans report poorer sleep quality and exhibit a smaller nighttime decrease in blood pressure than whites, a phenomenon called blood pressure "dipping".

"This ethnic difference in blood pressure dipping may help explain why African Americans are at greater risk of hypertension," says Dr. Joel Hughes, Kent State assistant professor of psychology, "as a smaller dip in nighttime blood pressure has been linked to increased left ventricular mass and wall thickness in the heart".

In this month's issue of the American Journal of Hypertension, Hughes and colleagues examine the possibility that sleep quality may help account for ethnic differences in blood pressure dipping. They observed that African-American college students, in comparison to whites, spent less time in bed, slept for a shorter period of time and took longer to fall asleep. Thus, ethnic differences in sleep quality seemed to accompany ethnic differences in blood pressure dipping; however, it was not shown that these differences in sleep quality caused ethnic differences in nighttime blood pressure.

"Obviously, more studies are needed," says Hughes. "There are too few studies of ethnic differences in sleep, and the importance of sleep for health is becoming increasingly recognized".........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


October 29, 2007, 7:42 PM CT

Ten minutes of talking has a mental payoff

Ten minutes of talking has a mental payoff
Spending just 10 minutes talking to another person can help improve your memory and your performance on tests, as per a University of Michigan study would be reported in the February 2008 issue of the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.

"In our study, socializing was just as effective as more traditional kinds of mental exercise in boosting memory and intellectual performance," said Oscar Ybarra, a psychology expert at the U-M Institute for Social Research (ISR) and a lead author of the study with ISR psychology expert Eugene Burnstein and psychology expert Piotr Winkielman from the University of California, San Diego.

In the article, Ybarra, Burnstein and his colleagues report on findings from two types of studies they conducted on the relationship between social interactions and mental functioning.

Their research was funded in part by a grant from the National Science Foundation.

In one study, they examined ISR survey data to see whether there was a relationship between mental functioning and specific measures of social interaction. The survey data included information on a national, stratified area probability sample of 3,610 people between the ages of 24 and 96. Their mental function was assessed through the mini-mental exam, a widely used test that measures knowledge of personal information and current events and that also includes a simple test of working memory.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


October 28, 2007, 2:08 PM CT

Cancer Patients not getting live-saving flu and pneumonia shots

Cancer Patients not getting live-saving flu and pneumonia shots
Eventhough flu and pneumonia can be lethal for cancer patients, more than one quarter of patients undergoing radiation treatment are not complying with national guidelines to be vaccinated against these potentially life-threatening yet preventable illnesses, as per a research studypresented October 28, 2007, at the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncologys 49th Annual Meeting in Los Angeles.

While Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and the Joint Commission recommend an annual flu (influenza) vaccine for cancer patients aged 50 years or older, 25 percent of patients 50 years or older reported never having received the flu vaccine. Similarly, the pneumonia (pneumococcus) vaccine is recommended to all cancer patients 65 year or older; however, over one-third (36 percent) of cancer patients in this age range reported never having received the vaccine. Cancer patients are at a higher risk of acquiring and dying from these illnesses due to a weaker immune system, among other factors.

Three reasons accounted for almost 80 percent of why patients didnt receive either vaccine: Patients either believed they didnt need the vaccines, they didnt know about the recommended vaccination guidelines or their physicians didnt recommend the vaccines.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


October 23, 2007, 10:23 PM CT

Cannabis a double-edged sword

Cannabis a double-edged sword
A new neurobiological study has observed that a synthetic form of THC, the active ingredient in cannabis, is an effective anti-depressant at low doses. However, at higher doses, the effect reverses itself and can actually worsen depression and other psychiatric conditions like psychosis.

The study, reported in the October 24 issue of The Journal of Neuroscience, was led by Dr. Gabriella Gobbi of McGill University and Le Centre de Recherche Fernand Seguin of Hpital Louis-H. Lafontaine, affiliated with l'Universit de Montral. First author is Dr. Gobbi's McGill PhD student Francis Bambico, along with Noam Katz and the late Dr. Guy Debonnel* of McGill's Department of Psychiatry.

It has been known for a number of years that depletion of the neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain leads to depression, so SSRI-class anti-depressants like Prozac and Celexa work by enhancing the available concentration of serotonin in the brain. However, this study offers the first evidence that cannabis can also increase serotonin, at least at lower doses.

Laboratory animals were injected with the synthetic cannabinoid WIN55,212-2 and then tested with the Forced Swim test a test to measure depression in animals; the scientists observed an antidepressant effect of cannabinoids paralleled by an increased activity in the neurons that produce serotonin. However, increasing the cannabinoid dose beyond a set point completely undid the benefits, said Dr. Gobbi.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


October 23, 2007, 10:21 PM CT

Link between obesity and viral infections

Link between obesity and viral infections
Experts dont dispute the important role that diet and activity play in maintaining a healthy weight. But can poor eating habits and a less active lifestyle fully explain the prevalence of obesity in the United States today? That question has led some scientists to ask whether there might be other causes for this serious problem. In the recent issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings, researcher Richard Atkinson, M.D., asserts that there is a growing body of evidence demonstrating that viruses may play a role in causing obesity in humans.

The cause of obesity is not a secret -- if you consume more calories than you burn in daily activity, you gain weight. What is interesting is that much of the obesity epidemic cannot be explained just by Americans eating more and exercising less. There are other factors at play, and viruses causing obesity may be one of them, say Dr. Atkinson.

Dr. Atkinson, director of Obetech Obesity Research Center in Richmond, Va., evaluated multiple published articles that demonstrate a correlation between viral infections and obesity. His article in Mayo Clinic Proceedings discusses five animal viruses and three human viruses that have been shown to cause obesity in laboratory studies.

As per Dr. Atkinson, several studies offer ample evidence that animals infected with certain human viruses experience excess weight gain and fat storage. When scientists infected animal subjects with a human virus known as Human Ad-36, they reported measurable increases in the infected animals body fat and the visceral fat that surrounds the organs deep within the belly. In addition, studies also demonstrated that infection with Ad-36 and the resulting weight gain could be transmitted from infected animals to uninfected animals.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


October 23, 2007, 10:19 PM CT

Mate tea lower cholesterol

Mate tea lower cholesterol
Mate
When a study in her lab showed that mate tea drinkers had experienced a significant increase in the activity of an enzyme that promotes HDL (good) cholesterol while lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol, University of Illinois scientist Elvira de Mejia headed for Argentina where mate tea has been grown and taken medicinally for centuries.

She returned with a five-year agreement signed by administrators of La Universidad Nacional de Misiones (UNaM) to cooperate in the study of 84 genotypes of mate tea, both cultivated and wild, never-before-studied, varieties. The arrangement calls for the writing of joint grants and an exchange of students and professors between UNaM and the U of I.

The scientist is also negotiating a grant from the National Institute of Yerba Mate to fund further research, she said.

Our studies show that some of the most important antioxidant enzymes in the body are induced by this herbal tea, said de Mejia of her study in Septembers Planta Medica.

Because Argentina has the different mate varieties, well be able to do more comparisons and characterizations between the different genotypes and the benefits of different growing conditionswhether in sun (on a plantation) or in shade (under the rainforest canopy), she added.

Not only does de Mejia hope to identify the most nutritionally beneficial genotypes of the herbal tea, she hopes that Argentine experience with drying and processing mate will lead to improved extraction of the teas bioactive compounds. Food companies are very interested in adding tea extracts to juices, soda, and even beer to increase the nutritional value of their products, she said.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


October 22, 2007, 8:52 PM CT

Is a good night's sleep crucial for your health?

Is a good night's sleep crucial for your health?
In spring 2005 a large European research and training network was established to investigate the causes and implications of poor sleep from a medical as well as from a social point of view. This EU-financed sleep research project, The biomedical and sociological effects of sleep restriction, is coordinated by Dr. Tarja Porkka-Heiskanen (Stenberg) MD, PhD, at the University of Helsinki, Institute of Biomedicine.

The other partners are from UK (University of Surrey), Belgium (Universit Libre de Bruxelles), Gera number of (Max Planck Institute for Psychiatry & Center of Mental Health, Klinikum Ingolstadt) and Switzerland (University of Zurich).

The topic of the project is important and timely: our environment is changing to a 24/7 society, which inevitably means that time spent in sleep decreases. What are the consequences of this reduction for human health and well-being" This is the central question of the present consortium.

The training network consists of 16 young Marie Curie Fellows from 12 countries, who are trained in the six consortium laboratories by experienced mentors. They are researching the role of sleep in the quality of life; in mood disorders, and how it can affect performance, accident rates, and cardiovascular diseases. Animal models complement the project aiming to understand the basic mechanisms underlying sleep regulation and thereby provide recommendations for the development of new hypnotics.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


October 21, 2007, 10:22 PM CT

Consumer Demand Flavors Food Import Safety Issues

Consumer Demand Flavors Food Import Safety Issues
An ever-changing U.S. consumer who enjoys the convenience of ready-to-eat produce and seasonable fruits during the dead of winter has brought new challenges to food import safety, experts said Oct. 18.

With U.S. food imports set to top more than $2 trillion this year and expected to triple by 2015, a panel on food safety commissioned by President Bush met at Texas A&M University to discuss ways to strengthen the national and global import infrastructure.

Dr. Andrew von Eschenbach, Food and Drug Administration commissioner, said the nation's consumer is one who "expects to eat strawberries in February."

That has led to more change and complexity among how food is processed and delivered into the U.S.

"This nation and the people we serve, and their health that's so critically important, is threatened - not that we haven't been doing a good job," he said.

"In fact, we've been doing an incredibly good job. But the world is rapidly changing around us. Eventhough we have been the gold standard (in food safety), we must respond and be prepared for new challenges that are emerging from radical changes".

Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples told the group "consumers' tastes and preferences are changing.

"They are demanding specialty products from around the world, seasonal products such as fruits and vegetables," Staples said.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


October 21, 2007, 10:20 PM CT

Key To Moonlight Romance

Key To Moonlight Romance
An international team of Australian and Israeli scientists has discovered what could be the aphrodisiac for the biggest moonlight sex event on Earth.

An ancient light-sensitive gene has been isolated by scientists from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (CoECRS) that appears to act as a trigger for the annual mass spawning of corals across a third of a million square kilometres of Australia's Great Barrier Reef, shortly after a full moon.

The genes, known as a cryptochromes, occur in corals, insects, fish and mammals - including humans - and are primitive light-sensing pigment mechanisms which predate the evolution of eyes.

In a new paper reported in the international journal Science today, the team, headed by Marie Curie Scholar Dr Oren Levy of CoECRS and the University of Queensland, reports its discovery that the Cry2 gene, stimulated by the faint blue light of the full moon, appears to play a central role in triggering the mass coral spawning event, one of nature's wonders.

Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, who leads the University of Queensland laboratory in which the genes were discovered, said "This is the key to one of the central mysteries of coral reefs. We have always wondered how corals without eyes can detect moonlight and get the precise hour of the right couple of days each year to spawn".........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


October 17, 2007, 9:19 PM CT

Newly qualified doctors feel well prepared

Newly qualified doctors feel well prepared
In comparison to 2000, significantly more newly qualified doctors think that their medical school training prepares them well for their first clinical posts, as per research reported in the online open access journal, BMC Medical Education.

The research team, led by Judith Cave from the Royal Free and University College Medical School in London, sent out questionnaires in 2005 to all doctors newly qualified from UK medical schools; more than half of those who responded said that their experience at medical school had prepared them well for their first year of employment. A similar survey conducted in 2000/2001 observed that only about third of doctors qualifying in those years felt prepared for their first year of work.

Between 2000 and 2005 graduates' feeling of "preparedness" increased at 19 medical schools, dropped in three schools and stayed stable in one school.

These findings suggest that the significant changes in the curriculum and teaching methods at most medical schools are beginning to have an impact. In 1993 the General Medical Council published the report Tomorrow's Doctors. It highlighted the need for changes in the medical curriculum and teaching methods (e.g. problem-based learning) so that students would be "properly prepared for their first day as a Pre Registration House Officer". This study found evidence that these changes are having an effect: in the 2005 cohort, a statistically significantly higher percentage of the respondents from schools with new-style courses felt well prepared.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source



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Did you know?
Adolescents who suffer physical injuries are vulnerable to emotional distress in the months following their hospitalization, yet almost 40 percent of hospitalized adolescents interviewed for a new study had no source for the follow-up medical care that could diagnose and treat symptoms of post-traumatic stress. These young trauma survivors are at risk for high levels of post-traumatic stress and depressive symptoms, as well as high levels of alcohol use, according to research by researchers at the Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center.

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