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July 29, 2007, 9:53 PM CT

Research links genetic mutations to lupus

Research links genetic mutations to lupus
A gene discovered by researchers at Wake Forest University School of Medicine has been associated with lupus and related autoimmune diseases. The finding, published in the current issue of Nature Genetics, is the latest in a series of revelations that shed new light on what goes wrong in human cells to cause the diseases.

This research is a huge leap toward understanding the cause of lupus and related autoimmune diseases, said Fred Perrino, Ph.D., a co-author on the paper and a professor of biochemistry at Wake Forest. There had been few clues before now.

Perrino, who discovered the gene in 1998, said he suspected it was involved in human disease, but it took a group of scientists from around the world collaborating to put the puzzle together.

Weve known that lupus was a complex disease, but now we have a specific protein and a particular cellular process that appears to be one of the causes, said Perrino. Were connecting the dots to understand the biology of whats going on with the disease.

In Nature Genetics, lead author Min Ae Lee-Kirsch, M.D., from the Technische Universitt Dresden in Dresden, Gera number of, and his colleagues report finding variations of the TREX1 gene discovered by Perrino in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus. The.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


July 26, 2007, 9:42 PM CT

Weight and pregnancy

Weight and pregnancy
Gaining or losing weight in between pregnancies can have major health implications for an unborn baby, warn two senior obstetricians in todays BMJ.

While weight and obesity have long concerned women in relation to body image and lifestyle issues, few are aware of the possible risks that fluctuating weight could have on their unborn child, write Dr Jennifer Walsh and Professor Deirdre Murphy.

They point to two studies. The first, from Sweden, which observed that weight gain between pregnancies was strongly linked to major complications for the woman and baby in the months preceding, during and just after childbirth. This was independent of whether a woman was, by definition, overweight.

The scientists studied 207,534 women from the beginning of their first pregnancy to the beginning of their second. They found increased rates of pre-eclampsia, diabetes in the expectant mother, pregnancy induced hypertension and high birth weight if a womans body mass index (BMI) increased by just one to two units. A rise of more than three BMI units significantly increased the rate of stillbirths.

The key message, say the authors, is that women of normal weight should avoid gaining weight between pregnancies, while overweight and obese women are likely to benefit from weight loss before becoming pregnant.........

Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source


July 26, 2007, 9:40 PM CT

Malt Liquor Linked to Marijuana Use

Malt Liquor Linked to Marijuana Use
Image courtesy of lager57
Drinking malt liquor -- the cheap, high-alcohol beverage often marketed to teens -- may put young adults at increased risk for alcohol problems and use of illicit drugs, especially marijuana, as per a new study of malt liquor drinkers and marijuana use by researchers at the University at Buffalo's Research Institute on Addictions (RIA).

"In our study of young adults who regularly drink malt liquor," reports lead researcher R. Lorraine Collins, senior research scientist at RIA, "we observed that malt liquor use is significantly correlation to reports of alcohol problems, problems specific to the use of malt liquor and to marijuana use above and beyond typical alcohol use." Collins also is a research professor in the Department of Psychology, UB College of Arts and Sciences.

The study consisted of 639 young adults (456 men) of approximately 23 years of age who regularly consume 40 ounces or more of malt liquor per week. They were recruited from the community-at-large, as well as Buffalo Niagara area colleges. The participants were heavy drinkers, averaging 30 alcoholic drinks -- including 17 malt liquor drinks -- per week.

In addition to malt liquor use, marijuana was the illicit drug of choice, with 46 percent reporting simultaneous use of malt liquor and marijuana. Individuals who used malt liquor and marijuana together smoked 19 marijuana joints, on average, during a typical week, whereas those who did not use the two together smoked two marijuana joints, on average, during a typical week. Very few participants reported regular use of other illicit drugs.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


July 26, 2007, 9:31 PM CT

Nutritional Supplement Cuts Anemia In Poor Children

Nutritional Supplement Cuts Anemia In Poor Children
A nutritional supplement known as Sprinkles, which can be added to children's food, reduces anemia by more than half, as per a recent study reported in the Journal of Nutrition.

The study was led by Purnima Menon, Cornell Ph.D. '02, a research associate in the Division of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell. It is the first to show, using a rigorous study design, that Sprinkles can reduce the occurence rate of anemia among poor children enrolled in an ongoing fortified food aid program implemented under challenging, real-life conditions in developing countries.

This research, which was conducted by Cornell's Division of Nutritional Sciences with the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), offers promising insights on how to reduce iron and other micronutrient deficiencies among poor people in developing countries. These deficiencies are a devastating problem worldwide, causing poor health, premature death and impaired development, says Menon. Children age 6 to 24 months are most vulnerable to suffering from iron-deficiency anemia.

"When combined with other food aid initiatives, the potential impact [of Sprinkles] is huge," said Marie Ruel, Cornell Ph.D. '90, director of IFPRI's Food Consumption and Nutrition Division and a co-author of the study.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


July 26, 2007, 5:10 AM CT

Why do people love horror movies?

Why do people love horror movies?
A bedrock assumption in theories that explain and predict human behavior is people's motivation to pursue pleasure and avoid pain. How can this be reconciled with the decision to engage in experiences known to elicit negative feelings, such as horror movies" It certainly seems counterintuitive that so a number of people would voluntarily immerse themselves in almost two hours of fear, disgust and terror. "Why do people pay for this?" "How is this enjoyable?" .

Investigators generally use one of two theories to explain why people like horror movies. The first is that the person is not actually afraid, but excited by the movie. The second explanation is that they are willing to endure the terror in order to enjoy a euphoric sense of relief at the end. But, a new study by Eduardo Andrade (University of California, Berkeley) and Joel B. Cohen (University of Florida) appearing in the recent issue of the Journal of Consumer Research argues that neither of these theories is correct.

We think that a reevaluation of the two dominant explanations for peoples willingness to consume negative experiences (both of which assume that people can not experience negative and positive emotions simultaneously) is in order, explain Andrade and Cohen in their study.

They continue: The assumption of peoples inability to experience positive and negative affect at the same time is incorrect.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


July 26, 2007, 4:59 AM CT

You're Not As Generous As You Think

You're Not As Generous As You Think
Christina Fong
A new study out of Carnegie Mellon University reveals that people who regard themselves as humanitarians are even more likely than others to base donations to the poor on whether they believe poverty is a result of bad luck or bad choices.

The study by Christina Fong, a research scientist in the Department of Social and Decision Sciences at Carnegie Mellon, supports prior findings that people are more likely to give money to the poor when they think that poverty is a result of misfortune rather than laziness. What's surprising is that this effect is largest among people who claim to have more humanitarian or egalitarian beliefs. In fact, humanitarians give no more than others when recipients are deemed to be poor because of laziness.

Fong's results, reported in the recent issue of the Economic Journal, are significant because altruistic behavior is not well explained by traditional economics, which assumes that self-interest is the prime motivator for human behavior.

"These findings, along with previous findings from social survey data and experiments, help economists develop more realistic models of human behavior so that they can better explain how societies deal with poverty and inequality. They imply that people may be more likely to support policies and charities that help insure people against bad luck rather than their own choices," Fong said.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


July 26, 2007, 4:55 AM CT

Unsubstantiated Claims About Cancer

Unsubstantiated Claims About Cancer
A new study from American Cancer Society scientists finds a surprising number of Americans believe scientifically unsubstantiated claims concerning cancer, and that population segments suffering the greatest burden of cancer are the most likely to be misinformed.

Evidence indicates that healthy behavior depends in part on an accurate assessment of proven risk factors. Prior research has shown that undue concern over unproven risk factors may distract some attention from proven risk factors and might actually result in decisions that are bad for the health. For the current report, reported in the September 1 issue of CANCER, a peer evaluated journal of the American Cancer Society, scientists led by Kevin Stein, PhD in the American Cancer Societys Behavioral Research Center used a nationwide telephone survey to assess the prevalence of unproven beliefs about cancer in the U.S.

The survey included 12 inaccurate or unlikely statements about cancer risk, risk factors, and prevention, some of which frequently show up in email inboxes, and asked participants to identify the statements as true or false. While more than two-thirds of the participants were able to identify seven of the 12 statements as false, five of the 12 statements were endorsed as true by at least a quarter of the respondents, and for seven of the statements, uncertainty was higher than 15 percent. Among the surveys findings:........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


July 25, 2007, 5:25 AM CT

Eat fish -- especially if you drink high levels of alcohol

Eat fish -- especially if you drink high levels of alcohol
Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are just that; an "essential" part of the total fat intake necessary for a healthy human diet. Most EFAs come from plants, but some are animal-sourced. A new study has observed that men who binge drink have substandard intake of n-3 fats, one of two types of EFAs, indicating poor dietary choices with negative long-term health consequences.

Results are reported in the recent issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research

"Essential fatty acids are important building blocks of living cells, making up a substantial part of cell walls," explained Norman Salem, Jr., chief of the Laboratory of Membrane Biochemistry & Biophysics at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism "EFAs also have a number of biological functions, and a lack of them leads to loss of growth and development, infertility, and a host of physiological and biochemical abnormalities." Salem is also the study's corresponding author.

The most important EFAs are polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), said J. Thomas Brenna, professor of human nutrition and of chemistry & chemical biology at Cornell University. Especially two types, Brenna noted: the omega-6 PUFA linoleic acid (LA), also called n-6 fats, and the omega-3 PUFA linolenic acid (ALA), also called n-3 fats. "Most Americans consume adequate amounts of LA in their diets through the use of vegetable oils, but tend to have low intakes of ALA," said Brenna.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


July 25, 2007, 5:04 AM CT

Autism: Women Carry the Disorder and Age is a Risk Factor

Autism: Women Carry the Disorder and Age is a Risk Factor
A new model for understanding how autism is acquired has been developed by a team of scientists led by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) and Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Autism is a developmental disorder, characterized by language impairments, social deficits, and repetitive behaviors. The scientists analyzed data on autism incidence and found a previously unrecognized pattern. The pattern can be explained by assuming that spontaneous germ-line mutation is a significant cause of the disorder. Parents, particularly women, who acquire the mutation - but do not exhibit severe symptoms of the disorder - have a 50% chance of passing the mutation on to their children. Sons often show the most severe symptoms.

Spontaneous mutations are changes in a chromosome that alter genes. Germ-line mutations are newly acquired in a germ cell of a parent, and sometimes are transmitted to offspring at conception. Men and women are equally as likely to acquire a spontaneous mutation that can cause autism, but autism is three times more likely in men, making women the more likely carriers of new mutations. "The fact that germ-line mutations increase with age places older parents at a higher risk of having children with autism, explaining a pattern that has been recently observed," said CSHL co-author of the study Michael Wigler, Ph.D.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


July 25, 2007, 5:01 AM CT

Metabolic Defect In Liver That Can Lead To Obesity

Metabolic Defect In Liver That Can Lead To Obesity
Scientists at the Monell Chemical Senses Center have identified a genetically-transmitted metabolic defect that can lead to obesity in some individuals. The defect involves decreased production of liver enzymes needed to burn fat and may help to explain why some people become obese while others remain thin.

The global obesity epidemic is believed to be caused in part by the increased availability and intake of high calorie foods rich in fat and carbohydrates. These foods promote weight gain in humans and other animals, leading to a diet-induced obesity. The propensity to gain weight and become obese when consuming a high-fat diet is at least partially controlled by genes.

Results of this study help explain the interaction between genes and diet that underlies diet-induced obesity, comments senior author Mark Friedman. They also point to a way to identify individuals at risk for dietary obesity, perhaps even during childhood before the development of unhealthy eating habits.

The current study, reported in the recent issue of Metabolism, demonstrates that genetic susceptibility to diet-induced obesity is due to a reduced capacity to burn fat.

Fat is one of the fuels that the bodys cells burn to provide energy. This process, known as fat oxidation, takes place inside mitochondria, the cells power plants for generating energy.........

Posted by: JoAnn      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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