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August 16, 2007, 9:32 PM CT

Are too many people 'depressed?'

Are too many people 'depressed?'
Are too a number of people now diagnosed as having depression? Two experts give their views in this weeks BMJ.

Professor Gordon Parker, a psychiatry expert from Australia says the current threshold for what is considered to be clinical depression is too low. He fears it could lead to a diagnosis of depression becoming less credible.

It is, he says, normal to be depressed and points to his own cohort study which followed 242 teachers. Fifteen years into the study, 79% of respondents had already met the symptom and duration criteria for major, minor or sub-syndromal depression.

He blames the over-diagnosis of clinical depression on a change in its categorisation, introduced in 1980. This saw the condition split into major and minor disorders. He says the simplicity and gravitas of major depression gave it cachet with clinicians while its descriptive profile set a low threshold.

Criterion A mandatory a person to be in a dysphoric mood for two weeks which included feeling down in the dumps. Criterion B involved some level of appetite change, sleep disturbance, drop in libido and fatigue. This model was then extended to include what he describes as a seeming subliminal condition sub-syndromal depression.

He argues this categorisation means we have been reduced to the absurd. He says we risk medicalising normal human distress and viewing any expression of depression as necessary of therapy. He says:........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source

August 16, 2007, 8:59 PM CT

Whiplash may produce delayed jaw pain

Whiplash may produce delayed jaw pain
One in three people exposed to whiplash trauma is at risk of developing delayed TMJ symptoms that may require therapy, as per research reported in the recent issue of The Journal of the American Dental Association.

Scientists at Ume University, Sweden, studied short- and long-term temporomandibular joint (TMJ) pain and dysfunction in 60 patients in hospital emergency rooms directly after they were involved in a rear-end car collision and reviewed them again one year later.

As per the study, the occurence rate of new symptoms of TMJ pain, dysfunction or both between the initial examination and follow-up was five times higher in subjects than in uninjured control subjects. In the year between the two examinations, 7 percent of control subjects developed symptoms in the TMJ versus 34 percent of study subjects.

As per the American Dental Association, the TM joint is one of the most complex joints in the body. Located on each side of the head, these joints work together and can make a number of different movements, including a combination of rotating and translocational (gliding) action, used when chewing and speaking. Any problem that prevents this system of muscles, ligaments, discs and bones from working together properly may result in a painful TMJ disorder.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source

August 15, 2007, 8:16 PM CT

How To Vaccinate Hard-to-reach Populations?

How To Vaccinate Hard-to-reach Populations?
NEW YORK CITY, August 15 Most flu immunization plans in the United States do not address how to vaccinate hard-to-reach populations (HTR)--undocumented immigrants, substance users, the homeless, homebound elderly, and minorities--and this potentially dangerous omission can lead masses of people to become ill during an outbreak of pandemic flu or other contagious disease, as per a new study by The New York Academy of Medicine in the current issue of the Journal of Urban Health.

Hard-to-reach populations are important to vaccinate not only because theyre personally vulnerable, but because they could be widely transmitting disease to others, said lead author David Vlahov, PhD, Director of the Academys Center for Urban Epidemiologic Studies (CUES) and Senior Vice President for Research. The importance of achieving high flu immunization rates is magnified by concern over pandemic influenza.

Influenza vaccination will begin to be offered by some U.S. healthcare providers as early as next month in preparation for flu season, which commonly extends from November through April of each year. Considerable attention will be devoted once again to achieving high levels of vaccination, since the vaccine is the best way to reduce ones chance of getting the flu, as per the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Influenza is a serious disease, causing 36,000 deaths (mostly among those aged 65 years or older) and striking 10 to 20 percent of the American population each year.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source

August 15, 2007, 8:10 PM CT

Plain soap as effective as antibacterial

Plain soap as effective as antibacterial
Antibacterial soaps show no health benefits over plain soaps and, in fact, may render some common antibiotics less effective, says a University of Michigan public health professor.

In the first known comprehensive analysis of whether antibacterial soaps work better than plain soaps, Allison Aiello of the U-M School of Public Health and her team observed that washing hands with an antibacterial soap was no more effective in preventing infectious illness than plain soap. Moreover, antibacterial soaps at formulations sold to the public do not remove any more bacteria from the hands during washing than plain soaps.

Because of the way the main active ingredient---triclosan---in a number of antibacterial soaps reacts in the cells, it may cause some bacteria to become resistant to usually used drugs such as amoxicillin, the scientists say. These changes have not been detected at the population level, but e-coli bacteria bugs adapted in lab experiments showed resistance when exposed to as much as 0.1 percent wt/vol triclosan soap.

"What we are saying is that these e-coli could survive in the concentrations that we use in our (consumer formulated) antibacterial soaps," Aiello said. "What it means for consumers is that we need to be aware of what's in the products. The soaps containing triclosan used in the community setting are no more effective than plain soap at preventing infectious illness symptoms, as well as reducing bacteria on the hands."........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source

August 15, 2007, 6:11 AM CT

Air pollution linked to cardiovascular risk indices

Air pollution linked to cardiovascular risk indices
Scientists in Taiwan have shown for the first time that urban air pollution simultaneously affects key indicators of cardiovascular risk in young adults: inflammation, oxidative stress, coagulation and autonomic dysfunction.

The study, which appeared in the second issue for August of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, published by the American Thoracic Society, investigated the effect of common urban air pollutants on biological markers for inflammation, oxidative stress, coagulation and autonomic dysfunction in 76 healthy Taiwanese college students.

The scientists collected blood samples and performed electrocardiograms on each subject approximately every 30 days for the months of April, May and June in either 2004 or 2005. They then correlated the sample dates and time with monitoring data from a fixed-site air monitoring station on the students campus. The concentrations of common urban air pollutants were averaged over 24, 48 and 72 hours.

They found significant increases in all indices of cardiovascular risk were linked to increased exposure to common pollutants. This study provides evidence that urban air pollution is linked to systemic inflammation/oxidative stress, impairment of the fibrinogenic system, activation of blood coagulation and alterations in the autonomic nervous system in young, healthy humans, wrote the studys lead author Chang-Chuan Chan, Sc.D., of National Taiwan Universitys College of Public Health.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source

August 8, 2007, 9:35 PM CT

Drink Milk to Gain Muscle And Lose Fat

Drink Milk to Gain Muscle And Lose Fat
Part of a research study that's ongoing into the impact of drinking milk after heavy weightlifting has observed that milk helps exercisers burn more fat.

The study by scientists at McMaster University and published recently in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, was conducted by the Department of Kinesiologys Exercise Metabolism Research Group, lead by Stuart Phillips.

The scientists took three groups of young men 18 to 30 years of age 56 in total and put them through a rigorous, five-day-per-week weightlifting program over a 12-week period. Following their workouts, study participants drank either two cups of skim milk, a soy beverage with equivalent amounts of protein and energy, or a carbohydrate beverage with an equivalent amount of energy, which was roughly the same as drinking 600 to 700 milliliters of a typical sports drink.

Upon the studys conclusion, scientists observed that the milk drinking group had lost nearly twice as much fat - two pounds - while the carbohydrate beverage group lost one pound of fat. Those drinking soy lost no fat. At the same time, the gain in muscle was much greater among the milk drinkers than either the soy or carbohydrate beverage study participants.

The loss of fat mass, while expected, was much larger than we thought it would be, says Phillips, associate professor of kinesiology at McMaster. I think the practical implications of these results are obvious: if you want to gain muscle and lose fat as a result of working out, drink milk.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source

August 8, 2007, 6:51 PM CT

Testosterone Replacement Therapy

Testosterone Replacement Therapy
For decades, older women have taken hormone replacements to replenish estrogen and progesterone levels lost to aging. More recently, testosterone (the most important male hormone) supplements have been used by aging men to improve their muscle mass, bone strength, libido and quality of life. In 2002, the number of elderly American men taking testosterone replacement treatment was nearly 819,000, and the number is growing. The increased use has occurred despite the fact that the cardiovascular effects of chronic testosterone therapy in aging males are largely unknown, and the safety of testosterone replacement has not been reviewed.

A team of scientists has been using an animal model to investigate potential links between testosterone supplements and cardiovascular and renal disease. The team, comprised of Radu Iliescu, Licy L. Yanes, Julio C. Sartori-Valinotti, and Jane F. Reckelhoff, is affiliated with the University of Mississippi Medical Center's Department of Physiology and Biophysics, Jackson, MS. Their most recent study and an overview of data from other human and animal studies is part of the upcoming conference, Sex and Gender in Cardiovascular-Renal Physiology and Pathophysiology. The meeting, sponsored by The American Physiological Society (APS;, is being held August 9-12, 2007 at the Hyatt Regency Austin on Town Lake, Austin, TX.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source

August 6, 2007, 4:58 PM CT

Early-childhood Intervention Improves Well-being

Early-childhood Intervention Improves Well-being
Minority preschoolers from low-income families who participated in a comprehensive school-based intervention fared better educationally, socially and economically as they moved into young adulthood, as per a report by University of Minnesota professors Arthur Reynolds and Judy Temple. The study is published recently in the Journal of the American Medical Associations (JAMA) Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. Reynolds is a child development professor in the College of Education and Human Development and Judy Temple is a professor in the department of applied economics and in the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs.

This study is the first to show that large-scale established programs run by schools can have enduring effects into adulthood on general health and well-being, Reynolds says. Early childhood programs can promote not only educational success but health status and behavior.

Reynolds research group discovered that by age 24, children who were involved in preschool programs were more likely to finish high school, attend four-year colleges and have health insurance coverage, and less likely to be arrested for a felony, be incarcerated or develop depressive symptoms. For example, the preschool group had higher rates of high school completion with 71.4 percent finishing high school compared with a 63.7 percent finish rate among those in the non preschool group. Those who attended preschool also were more likely to have health insurance with 70.2 percent having insurance compared with 61.5 percent of those not in preschool. Those children in the program also had lower rates of felony arrests with 16.5 percent compared with 21.1 percent and lower depressive symptoms with 12.8 percent compared with 17.4 percent.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source

August 3, 2007, 5:29 AM CT

Controlling stress helps fight chronic diseases such as Lupus

Controlling stress helps fight chronic diseases such as Lupus
Lupus is an autoimmune disease affecting more than 5 million people around the world, and makes the immune system attack the body's cells and tissue as if they were enemies.

- It especially affects women of fertile age between 15 and 44 years old.

- A study conducted at the University of Granada (Universidad de Granada) shows that reducing stress in people suffering from lupus also decreases some symptoms of this disease such as inexplicable loss of weight, feeling of fatigue, continuous fever or pain and inflammation in joints.

- Patients who received psychological treatment significantly reduced their levels of stress, anxiety and depression, achieving even lower levels than those of the general population.

C@MPUS DIGITAL Lupus is an autoimmune disease which produces antibodies causing injuries to the body's cells and tissue. It makes the immune system go out of control and the organism attack healthy cells instead of the germs on them. This pathology, which affects more than 5 million people around the world, is more developed in women of fertile age between 15 and 44 years old.

A study conducted in the Department of Medicine at the University of Granada determined that daily stress (which occurs in circumstances of little importance but of high frequency) could exacerbate the symptoms of patients suffering from lupus. In other words, controlling the stress level of those suffering from this disease allows the determination of its negative effects, such as inexplicable loss of weight, feeling of fatigue, continuous fever or pain and inflammation in joints.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source

August 3, 2007, 5:13 AM CT

Should patients be paid to take medicines?

Should patients be paid to take medicines?
Last week, it was announced that drug addicts in England are to be given shopping vouchers for complying with therapy programmes. In this weeks BMJ, two experts debate whether it is acceptable for people to be paid to adhere to medication.

Rewarding patients to cooperate is not new, argues Tom Burns, a senior psychiatry expert at Warneford Hospital in Oxford. Most mental health practitioners reward patients for healthy behaviour and financial incentives are no different.

People who criticise money for medicines emphasise the exploitation of impoverished patients and worries about how patients would spend the money. But whether a payment represents a just reward or immoral exploitation depends on the circumstances not the transaction, he writes.

Far from being unethical and unacceptable, he believes that money for medicine is a refreshingly honest acknowledgement of the different perspectives of the two parties involved.

Rather than a way to manipulate patients to do what we want them to do it provides a model of respectful exchange, he concludes.

But Joanne Shaw, Chairman of Ask About Medicines, believes that payment is not the way to solve the high costs of non-adherence to medication. Paying for adherence, whether in the form of cash or non-financial benefits, creates perverse incentives and undermines the therapeutic alliance between patients and doctors that is needed for long term health care, she writes.........

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. Archives of society medical news blog

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