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November 18, 2008, 5:13 AM CT

Exercise increases brain growth factor

Exercise increases brain growth factor
A new study confirms that exercise can reverse the age-related decline in the production of neural stem cells in the hippocampus of the mouse brain, and suggests that this happens because exercise restores a brain chemical which promotes the production and maturation of new stem cells.

Neural stem cells and progenitor cells differentiate into a variety of mature nerve cells which have different functions, a process called neurogenesis. There is evidence that when fewer new stem or progenitor cells are produced in the hippocampus, it can result in impairment of the learning and memory functions. The hippocampus plays an important role in memory and learning.

The study, "Exercise enhances the proliferation of neural stem cells and neurite growth and survival of neuronal progenitor cells in dentate gyrus of middle-aged mice," was carried out by Chih-Wei Wu, Ya-Ting Chang, Lung Yu, Hsiun-ing Chen, Chauying J. Jen, Shih-Ying Wu, Chen-Peng Lo, Yu-Min Kuo, all of the National Cheng Kung University Medical College in Taiwan. The study appears in the recent issue of the Journal of Applied Physiology, published by The American Physiological Society.

Rise in corticosterone or fall in nerve growth factor?

The scientists built on earlier studies that observed that the production of stem cells in the area of the hippocampus known as the dentate gyrus drops off dramatically by the time mice are middle age and that exercise can slow that trend. In the current study, the scientists wanted to track these changes in mice over time, and find out why they happen.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


November 17, 2008, 10:22 PM CT

Why only some former smokers develop lung cancer

Why only some former smokers develop lung cancer
Canadian scientists are trying to answer why some smokers develop lung cancer while others remain disease free, despite similar changes in lifestyle.

Results were presented at the American Association for Cancer Research's Seventh Annual International Conference on Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research.

As per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more people die from lung cancer than any other cancer type. In fact, as per 2004 data, more people died from lung cancer than breast, prostate and colon cancers combined.

Smoking is the biggest risk factor for developing lung cancer, even after quitting for long periods of time. "More than 50 percent of newly diagnosed patients with lung cancer are former smokers," said Emily A. Vucic, a graduate student at the British Columbia Cancer Research Centre, Vancouver, B.C. "Understanding why some former smokers develop lung cancer is clearly important to the development of early detection, prevention and therapy strategies".

The scientists studied how DNA methylation contributes to lung cancer development in former smokers. Methylation is an important event regulating gene expression during normal development. As we age and in cancer, proper patterns of DNA methylation become deregulated throwing off the tight control of gene activity that normally exists.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


November 14, 2008, 5:36 AM CT

Families, friends, schools and neighborhoods

Families, friends, schools and neighborhoods
Characteristics present in the four social environments in which young people livefamilies, peers, schools, and neighborhoodscontribute both positively and negatively to whether teens misuse alcohol, with risk from one area possibly being magnified or decreased by attributes of another.

That's the finding of a new longitudinal study conducted by scientists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the University of California at Davis, and the University of California at Irvine. The study appears in the November/December 2008 issue of the journal Child Development

Prior research on teen drinking has focused mostly on individuals' ties to friends and family members. This study suggests the need for a more inclusive view of the social world of adolescents and highlights the importance of examining the connections between all of the social environments in which they live.

The scientists used data from 6,544 teens ages 11 to 17 enrolled in three public school systems in North Carolina, surveying them every six months for a total of five times. The adolescents were in grades 6, 7, and 8 when they were first surveyed, and in grades 8, 9, and 10 at the end of the study. The study used information from the teens to measure their misuse of alcohol, including heavy drinking, and to gauge negative consequences linked to drinking, such as getting into fights.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


November 14, 2008, 5:26 AM CT

New program teaches preschoolers reading skills

New program teaches preschoolers reading skills
A study funded by the National Institutes of Health and other federal agencies shows that it's possible to teach preschoolers the pre-reading skills they need for later school success, while at the same time fostering the socials skills necessary for making friends and avoiding conflicts with their peers.

The findings address long standing concerns on whether preschool education programs should emphasize academic achievement or social and emotional development.

"Fostering academic achievement in preschoolers need not come at the expense of healthy emotional development," said Duane Alexander, M.D., director of NIH's Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), which provided much of the funding for the study. "This study shows that it's possible to do both at the same time".

The study appears in the November/recent issue of Child Development and was conducted by Karen Bierman, Ph.D., distinguished professor of Psychology at Penn State University.

In recent years, education officials and scientists who study early childhood education have struggled with whether to emphasize academics in preschool programs or to instead try to advance preschoolers' social skills, explained the NICHD project officer for the study, James Griffin, Ph.D., deputy chief of the Child Development and Behavior Branch. The current study marks the first attempt to develop a curriculum that addresses both concerns equally, Dr. Griffin added.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


November 13, 2008, 10:29 PM CT

How eating red meat can spur cancer progression

How eating red meat can spur cancer progression
Scientists at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, led by Ajit Varki, M.D., have shown a new mechanism for how human consumption of red meat and milk products could contribute to the increased risk of malignant tumors. Their findings, which suggest that inflammation resulting from a molecule introduced through consumption of these foods could promote tumor growth, are published online this week in advance of print publication in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

Varki, UC San Diego School of Medicine distinguished professor of medicine and cellular and molecular medicine, and co-director of the UCSD Glycobiology Research and Training Center, and his colleagues studied a non-human cellular molecule called N-glycolylneuraminic acid (Neu5Gc). Neu5Gc is a type of glycan, or sugar molecule, that humans don't naturally produce, but that can be incorporated into human tissues as a result of eating red meat. The body then develops anti-Neu5Gc antibodies an immune response that could potentially lead to chronic inflammation, as first suggested in a 2003 PNAS paper by Varki.

"We've shown that tumor tissues contain much more Neu5Gc than is commonly found in normal human tissues," said Varki. "We therefore surmised that Neu5Gc must somehow benefit tumors".........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


November 12, 2008, 10:24 PM CT

Osteoporosis care at risk in the United States

Osteoporosis care at risk in the United States
Cuts to Medicare reimbursement of DXA undermine efforts to properly diagnose and treat osteoporosis and diminish quality of patient care.

As per a paper reported in the recent issue of the Springer journal Osteoporosis International, Medicare reimbursement for dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) has been cut to levels substantially below the cost to perform the procedure. As a result, a number of physicians and clinics around the country are likely to discontinue this critical health service ? greatly limiting the public's access to the test and jeopardizing those at risk for a fracture.

The reimbursement cuts run contrary to existing federal initiatives already in place to increase fracture prevention efforts and improve the prevention, diagnosis and therapy of osteoporosis.

The article shows that DXA is a key tool in identifying those at risk for osteoporosis and helping those with the disease monitor their bone health. It is a recognized tool for preventing and reducing costly fractures, which account for $18 billion in national healthcare costs and are projected to increase by 50 percent over the next two decades, reaching $25.3 billion in 2025.

The authors of the article, E.M. Lewiecki, S. Baim and E.S. Siris, stated their support for ".....federal efforts to contain healthcare costs and eliminate unnecessary medical services." However, with the Medicare cuts in reimbursement, "fewer patients at high risk for fracture will be identified and fewer patients will be treated. As a result, there will be more osteoporotic fractures".........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


November 11, 2008, 8:51 PM CT

Low Concentrations of Pesticides Can Become Toxic Mixture

Low Concentrations of Pesticides Can Become Toxic Mixture
Ten of the world's most popular pesticides can decimate amphibian populations when mixed together even if the concentration of the individual chemicals are within limits considered safe, as per University of Pittsburgh research published Nov. 11 in the online edition of "Oecologia." Such "cocktails of contaminants" are frequently detected in nature, the paper notes, and the Pitt findings offer the first illustration of how a large mixture of pesticides can adversely affect the environment.

Study author Rick Relyea, an associate professor of biological sciences in Pitt's School of Arts and Sciences, exposed gray tree frog and leopard frog tadpoles to small amounts of the 10 pesticides that are widely used throughout the world. Relyea selected five insecticides-carbaryl, chlorpyrifos, diazinon, endosulfan, and malathion-and five herbicides-acetochlor, atrazine, glyphosate, metolachlor, and 2,4-D. He administered the following doses: each of the pesticides alone, the insecticides combined, a mix of the five herbicides, or all 10 of the poisons.

Relyea observed that a mixture of all 10 chemicals killed 99 percent of leopard frog tadpoles as did the insecticide-only mixture; the herbicide mixture had no effect on the tadpoles. While leopard frogs perished, gray tree frogs did not succumb to the poisons and instead flourished in the absence of leopard frog competitors.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


November 4, 2008, 9:34 PM CT

Healthy bones program reduces hip fractures by 37 percent

Healthy bones program reduces hip fractures by 37 percent
Proactive measures can reduce hip fracture rates by an average of 37.2 percent -- and as much as 50 percent -- among those at risk, as per a research studyconducted by Kaiser Permanente Southern California. The study was published online on November 3 by The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery, a peer-evaluated journal.

The largest study of its kind, the five-year study tracked more than 625,000 male and female patients over the age of 50 in Southern California who had specific risk factors for osteoporosis and/or hip fractures. The implementation of many initiatives in the Kaiser Permanente Southern California Healthy Bones Program reduced the hip fracture rates beyond the goal rate of 25 percent.

"One-half of all women and one-third of all men will sustain a fragility fracture in their lifetime. The mortality rate due to osteoporosis-related fractures is greater than the rates for breast cancer and cervical cancer combined," said study lead author Richard M. Dell, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at the Kaiser Permanente Bellflower Medical Center. "Yet it's a misconception that nothing can be done to prevent or treat osteoporosis. It is possible to achieve at least a 25 percent reduction in the hip fracture rate in the United States if a more active role is taken by all orthopedic surgeons in osteoporosis disease management."........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


October 31, 2008, 5:28 AM CT

Personality shapes perception of romance

Personality shapes perception of romance
Psychology professor Glenn Roisman and graduate student Ashley Holland found that measuring the quality of romantic relationships is more complex than earlier studies suggest.
Personality scientists have long known that people who report they have certain personality traits are also more (or less) likely to be satisfied with their romantic partners. Someone who says she is often anxious or moody, for example, is more likely than her less neurotic counterpart to be dissatisfied with her significant other.

In a new analysis, scientists at the University of Illinois observed that measuring the quality of romantic relationships is more complex than these earlier studies suggest. While personality has been found to be predictive of perceived relationship satisfaction and success, other measures of relationship quality may offer additional insight into how a romantic relationship is functioning.

"Obviously there are going to be strong links between how you perceive your relationship and how you perceive yourself," said Ashley Holland, a doctoral student in developmental psychology who led the research as part of her master's thesis. "But maybe there are not going to be such strong links between how you perceive yourself and how well you actually interact with your partner".

"Our question was whether personality traits get reflected not just in how people perceive their relationships, but actually how they're behaving toward one another - and how their bodies respond while they interact," said Illinois psychology professor Glenn Roisman, a co-author on the study.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


October 31, 2008, 5:26 AM CT

Drinking milk to ease milk allergy?

Drinking milk to ease milk allergy?
Giving children with milk allergies increasingly higher doses of milk over time may ease, and even help them completely overcome, their allergic reactions, as per the results of a study led by the Johns Hopkins Children's Center and conducted jointly with Duke University.

Despite the small number of patients in the trial 19 the findings are illuminating and encouraging, researchers say, because this is the first-ever double-blinded and placebo-controlled study of milk immunotherapy. In the study, the scientists compared a group of children receiving milk powder to a group of children receiving placebo identical in appearance and taste to real milk powder. Neither the patients nor the researchers knew which child received which powder, a rigorous research setup that minimizes the chance for error and bias.

The findings of the study are reported online ahead of print, Oct. 28, in the Journal of Allergy & Clinical Immunology

"Our findings suggest that oral immunotherapy gradually retrains the immune system to completely disregard or to better tolerate the allergens in milk that previously caused allergic reactions," says Robert Wood, M.D., senior investigator on the study and director of Allergy & Immunology at Hopkins Children's. "Albeit preliminary and requiring further study, these results suggest that oral immunotherapy may be the closest thing yet to a 'true' therapy for food allergy".........

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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