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February 13, 2007, 9:51 PM CT

Flu shot might protect against H5N1

Flu shot might protect against H5N1
The yearly influenza vaccine that health officials urge people to get each fall might also offer certain individuals some cross protection against the H5N1 virus, usually known as bird flu, as per researchers at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

The researchers observed that a protein present in the annual influenza shot can act as a vaccine itself and trigger some cross protection against H5N1 in mice; and that some human volunteers already had antibodies directed against the same part of this virus. Cross protection occurs when the immune response triggered by a vaccine designed to protect against one germ also offers some protection against a different germ.

The finding also suggests that the annual influenza vaccine might be particularly beneficial to populations in areas of the world where H5N1 routinely infects birds and poses a threat to people.

"The jury is still out on whether the seasonal flu vaccine is definitely a reliable way to offer people some protection from H5N1," said Richard J. Webby, Ph.D., assistant member in the Virology division of the Department of Infectious Diseases at St. Jude. "But our initial results suggest that this is a research trail worth following." Webby is senior author of the report that appears in the Feb. 13 issue of the online journal PLoS Medicine at

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source

February 13, 2007, 9:17 PM CT

Be careful with garlic treatment for children

Be careful with garlic treatment for children
Parents and practitioners should know more about garlic before using it to treat children, as per a review of data conducted in part by the University of Alberta.

While using garlic to treat children for various ailments appears to be generally safe, more research needs to be done on its specific effects, and garlic is not recommended in at least one therapy, scientists found after reviewing several studies that used the plant to treat several childhood ailments. Their findings were published recently in Pediatrics in Review.

"Data are insufficient to recommend precise dosages when treating children," said Dr. Sunita Vohra, an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada. Despite its longtime use in a number of cultures for its purported pharmacologic benefits, further research will help answer questions surrounding garlic's use in children, Vohra noted.

The data review revealed that garlic tablets did appear to aid upper respiratory tract infections, resulting in a 1.7-fold reduction in morbidity compared with placebo and 2.4-fold reduction versus dibazole, a commercial parasiticide containing medication. Garlic applied briefly to warts also proved effective with resolution reported in all children after three to nine weeks of therapy.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source

February 13, 2007, 8:41 PM CT

Patients And Therapists Are 'Wired To Connect'

Patients And Therapists Are 'Wired To Connect'
Empathy is well known to be an important component of the patient-therapist relationship, and a new study has revealed the biology behind how patients and therapists connect during a clinical encounter. In the February Journal of Nervous and Mental Diseases, scientists from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) report the first physiologic evidence of shared emotions underlying the experience of empathy during live psychotherapy sessions. The scientists observed that, during moments of high positive emotion, both patients and therapists had similar physiologic responses and that greater levels of similarity were correlation to higher ratings of therapist empathy by patients.

This research supports brain imaging data that shows humans are literally wired to connect emotionally, says Carl Marci, MD, director of Social Neuroscience in the MGH Department of Psychiatry and the papers lead author. There is now converging evidence that, during moments of empathic connection, humans reflect or mirror each others emotions, and their physiologies move on the same wavelength.

As part of a research study that's ongoing of the role of empathy in psychotherapy, the MGH scientists videotaped therapeutic sessions of 20 unique patient-therapist pairs. The patients were being treated as outpatients for common mood and anxiety disorders in established therapeutic relationships. The participating therapists practiced psychodynamic treatment, an approach that uses the therapeutic relationship to help patients develop insight into their emotions.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source

February 12, 2007, 9:50 PM CT

Walkable Communities Make Elders Healthier

Walkable Communities Make Elders Healthier
Some of a neighborhood's features -- the length of its blocks, how a number of grocery stores or restaurants are nearby -- may be more than selling points for real estate agents. A new study suggests such factors may work to beat back obesity in older people by increasing a neighborhood's "walkability."

The findings by University of Washington and Group Health Cooperative scientists involved more than 900 elderly Group Health members living in Seattle and King County. The results could have broad implications for public health and planning officials throughout the United States, where obesity has been called an epidemic and as baby boomers start to retire.

"The area around someone's home is an opportunity to walk if the habitat is right," said Dr. Ethan Berke, lead researcher of the study reported in the recent issue of the American Journal of Public Health.

Scientists compared the study participants' self-reported walking behavior with geographic information relating to the location of their residences, as well as some 200 directly observable neighborhood attributes, including parks, streets and foot-and-bike trails, land slope and traffic. Scientists concluded that the chief factors contributing to an area's walkability were higher residential density and clusters of destinations such as grocery stores, restaurants and other services.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source

February 12, 2007, 9:43 PM CT

Whose tastes do you trust more?

Whose tastes do you trust more?
Whose tastes do you trust more? The person who loves the same things you love? Or the person who hates the same things you hate? Turns out, when were looking for advice, positivity reigns. A new study reveals that we trust those who love the same things we love more than those who hate the same things we hate. As the scientists explain in the recent issue of the Journal of Consumer Research, "There are few ways that products are loved, but a number of ways that they are hated".

Through a series of experiments, Andrew D. Gershoff (University of Michigan), Ashesh Mukherjee (McGill University), and Anirban Mukhopadhyay (Hong Kong University of Science and Technology) reveal that we are more willing to take the advice of someone with shared likes than someone with shared dislikes because of "attribute ambiguity." That is, consumers find it hard to isolate exactly what the recommender didnt like the offending characteristic of a movie, say, could be plot, acting, special effects, or any number of other factors.

"For a loved product, most people tend to love everything about it, and tend to hate nothing. But for a hated product, some people hate everything about it, some hate just one aspect while liking other aspects, and some like all the aspects individually, but hate how they go together," the authors explain.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source

February 12, 2007, 9:40 PM CT

More than meets the tongue

More than meets the tongue
Does orange juice taste sweeter if it's a brighter orange? A new study in the recent issue of the Journal of Consumer Research finds that the color of a drink can influence how we think it tastes. In fact, the scientists observed that color was more of an influence on how taste waccording toceived than quality or price information.

"Perceptual discrimination is fundamental to rational choice in a number of product categories yet rarely examined in consumer research," write JoAndrea Hoegg (University of British Columbia) and Joseph W. Alba (University of Florida). "The present research investigates discrimination as it pertains to consumers' ability to identify differenceor the lack thereofamong gustatory stimuli".

Hoegg and Alba are the first to look at how individual attributes -- such as color, price, or brand -- can affect which products we prefer. The scientists manipulated orange juice by changing color (with food coloring), sweetness (with sugar), or by labeling the cups with brand and quality information. They observed that though brand name influenced people's preferences for one cup of juice over another, labeling one cup a premium brand and the other an inexpensive store brand had no effect on perceptions of taste.

In contrast, the tint of the orange juice had a huge effect on the taster's perceptions of taste. As the authors put it: "Color dominated taste."........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source

February 9, 2007, 4:46 AM CT

New smear test policy puts young women at risk

New smear test policy puts young women at risk
Last month, the BMJ reported a fall in the number of young women attending smear tests. Now, two senior doctors warn that a new policy not to screen women aged 20-24 may be a factor in falling coverage and could increase the risk of cancer developing in young women.

Prevalence of carcinoma in situ (a precursor to cancer known as CIN3) has increased in women aged 20-24, write consultants Amanda Herbert and John Smith. This new policy will add more than 3000 women with untreated CIN3 to the larger numbers failing to accept their invitations later on, they warn.

The authors accept that CIN may regress, that invasive cervical cancer (ICC) is rare in women under 25, and that screening does little to reduce its incidence in such young women. However, they argue that ICC can develop within a couple of years of missed cell analysis, failure to investigate cell abnormalities, or incomplete therapy, emphasising the importance of treating high-grade CIN when it is found.

Screening in the UK has been highly successful and, since 1988, incidence and mortality have fallen by more than 40% despite increased risk of disease. This has been achieved by treating high-grade CIN, especially CIN3, in young women, say the authors. The peak prevalence of CIN3 is in women aged 25-29 amongst whom the fall in coverage has been greatest.........

Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source

February 9, 2007, 4:41 AM CT

Abortion -- where do we draw the line?

Abortion -- where do we draw the line?
The 40th anniversary in October this year of the passing of the UK Abortion Act is certain to be marked by attempts to reopen the debate about lowering the upper limit for legal terminations. In a special report in this weeks BMJ, journalist Jonathan Gornall examines current arguments for reform.

Any challenge to the upper limit of 24 weeks poses big questions about viability, infant suffering, and the capabilities of neonatal care, writes Gornall and the danger is that this vital debate is taking place increasingly on emotional rather than scientific grounds.

The ProLife Alliance can take much of the credit for having put abortion back on the public and political agenda over the past decade. The organisation was set up in 1996 as a political party to show the reality of abortion and was also behind the ultimately failed attempt in 2003 by Joanna Jepson, a trainee vicar, to have police prosecute two doctors over the late abortion of a fetus with a cleft lip and palate.

Now the alliance has turned its attention away from pictures of dead babies to 4D ultrasound images of live ones in the womb.

The technique was pioneered by Stuart Campbell, head of obstetrics and gynaecology at St Georges Hospital, London, who is convinced that his 4D images have undermined the validity of the current time limit for abortion.........

Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source

February 7, 2007, 9:02 PM CT

Take More Breaks To Avoid Back Injury

Take More Breaks To Avoid Back Injury
Workers who lift for a living need to take longer or more frequent breaks than they now do to avoid back injury, as per a new study at Ohio State University.

The study also suggests that people who are new on the job need to take breaks even more often than experienced workers, and that the risk of injury is higher at the end of a work shift.

People who took part in the study lifted boxes onto conveyor belts for eight hours, while scientists measured the amount of oxygen that was reaching the muscles in their lower back.

The oxygen level indicated how hard the muscles were working, and whether they were becoming fatigued, explained William Marras, professor of industrial welding and systems engineering at Ohio State. His research and others' has shown that muscle fatigue is associated with back injury.

The study, which appeared in a recent issue of the journal Clinical Biomechanics, is the first to examine what happens to muscle oxygenation over a full workday.

Despite the fact that the study participants were performing the same job at the same pace all day, their back muscles needed more oxygen as the day went on. Taking a half-hour lunch break helped their muscles recover from the morning's exertion, but once they started working again, their oxygen needs rose steeply and kept climbing throughout the afternoon.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source

February 7, 2007, 5:10 AM CT

Children's perceptions and antisocial behavior

Children's perceptions and antisocial behavior
Children who grow up in antisocial families are more likely to be antisocial themselves. Much of the research into why this is so has focused on parents' behavior. A new study finds that the way children perceive their parents' behavior provides clues as to why children of antisocial parents may grow up to be antisocial.

The study, conducted by scientists at the University of California, Davis, and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, appears in the January/February 2007 issue of the journal Child Development. The research was funded in part by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and the National Institute of Mental Health.

In an effort to determine how antisocial behavior in one generation is transmitted to the next, scientists looked at 430 adolescents and their biological parents across the children's high school years. Specifically, the study examined the adolescents' level of antisocial behavior, the level of such behavior in parents, and the teens' general perceptions of their parents' behavior. Antisocial behavior was defined in terms of substance use, recklessness and breaking laws, arguments and conflicts with others, and lying. The study examined if the effect of parents' antisocial behavior on the teens' antisocial behavior could be explained by the teens' perceptions of their parents as antisocial, as well as by disrupted parenting practices, such as poor monitoring, hostility, and harsh and inconsistent discipline.........

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. Archives of society medical news blog

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