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December 22, 2005

Holiday Safety Tips

Holiday Safety Tips
With the holidays fast approaching, Safe Kids Canada, the national injury prevention program of The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids), wants to remind parents and caregivers about some of the dangers at home for children during the holiday season. Here are a few simple precautions you can take to help keep children safe over the holidays: .

Think twice before gathering around the holiday fire.

Gas fireplaces are popular but children can easily burn their hands and fingers from contact with the glass barrier at the front of the gas fireplace. The fireplace glass can heat up to over 200 ° C (400 ° F) in about six minutes and takes an average of 45 minutes for the fireplace to cool to a safe temperature after a burning fire has been extinguished. Burns happen when toddlers fall towards the gas fireplace barrier or touch the glass for balance or out of curiosity. Safety gates should be installed to keep your child at a safe distance at all times. Consider not using the fireplace if you have young children, using it only after your children have gone to sleep, or turn the unit off completely, including the pilot flame, whenever the unit is not in use.

Make sure all holiday lights and electrical cords are in good repair and out of children's reach.

Each year, doctors at SickKids see children who have suffered electrical burns from touching hot bulbs or putting them into their mouths. Others have bitten electrical cords and mandatory plastic surgery.

New TV for Christmas? Be careful where you place it.

Each year, 100 children are injured when TV sets topple on them. In the majority of cases , the television was on a simple stand or cart, while others were on wall units, .

shelving or dressers. To prevent injuries, keep your television on low, sturdy furniture and push it as far back on the furniture as possible. Keep your TV cords behind the furniture, where children cannot reach them. When possible, use anchors, angle-braces, or furniture straps to secure furniture to the wall.........

JoAnn      Permalink

December 22, 2005

How Air Pollution

How Air Pollution
New York University School of Medicine researchers provide some of the most compelling evidence yet that long-term exposure to air pollution-even at levels within federal standards-causes heart disease. Previous studies have linked air pollution to cardiovascular disease but until now it was poorly understood how pollution damaged the body's blood vessels.

In a well-designed mouse study, where animals breathed air as polluted as the air in New York City, the researchers pinpointed specific mechanisms and showed that air pollution can be particularly damaging when coupled with a high-fat diet, according to new research published in the December 21 issue of JAMA.

"We established a causal link between air pollution and atherosclerosis," says Lung Chi Chen, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Environmental Medicine at NYU School of Medicine and a lead author of the study. Atherosclerosis-the hardening, narrowing, and clogging of the arteries-is an important component of cardiovascular disease.

The study, done in collaboration with the Mount Sinai School of Medicine and University of Michigan, looked at the effects of airborne particles measuring less than 2.5 microns, referred to as PM2.5, the size linked most strongly with cardiovascular disease. The emissions arise primarily from power plants and vehicle exhaust. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has regulated PM2.5 since 1997, limiting each person's average exposure per year to no more than 15 micrograms per cubic meter. These tiny particles of dust, soot, and smoke lead to an estimated 60,000 premature deaths every year in the United States.

Dr. Chen and his colleagues divided 28 mice, which were genetically prone to developing cardiovascular disease, into two groups eating either normal or high-fat diets. For the next six months, half of the mice in each feeding group breathed doses of either particle-free filtered air or concentrated air containing PM2.5 at levels that averaged out to 15.2 micrograms per cubic meter. This amount is within the range of annual EPA limits and equivalent to air quality in urban areas such as New York City.........

Daniel      Permalink

December 21, 2005

Resolved to Lose Weight in 2006?

Resolved to Lose Weight in 2006? Neal Barnard, M.D
With 2006 quickly approaching, losing weight is on the minds of a number of people considering a New Year's resolution. Doctors with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) suggest a new approach to weight loss based on a recent study showing that a low-fat vegan diet is an effective way to shed unwanted pounds.

PCRM's weight-loss study, published in September in The American Journal of Medicine, showed that a low-fat, plant-based diet is more effective at helping women lose weight and improve insulin sensitivity than an omnivorous diet.

"The study participants following the vegan diet enjoyed unlimited servings of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and other healthful foods that enabled them to lose weight without feeling hungry," says Dr. Neal Barnard, the study's lead author. "Anyone who wants to make healthy changes in the New Year will do well to try a plant-based diet".

Other scientific studies support the obesity-fighting power of plant-based diets. In a recent study of more than 55,000 Swedish women, Tufts University researcher P. Kirstin Newby and her colleagues found that 40 percent of meat-eaters were overweight or obese while only 25 to 29 percent of vegetarians and vegans were. Worldwide, vegetarian populations experience lower rates of heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure.

The simplicity of a vegan diet appeals to people busy with work and family, and a number of familiar recipes are easy to adapt. At least four studies published in peer-reviewed journals show that patients give the low-fat vegetarian diet a high rating in terms of acceptability, and that the transition only takes about three weeks or less.........

JoAnn      Permalink

December 21, 2005

It's never too late to quit smoking

It's never too late to quit smoking
There is never a bad time to stop smoking, but there is no time like the present to quit. November is Lung Cancer Awareness month, and with the holiday season approaching, quitting smoking is the best gift smokers can give themselves, their families and their friends.

According to the American Cancer Society, smoking is the most preventable cause of death in the United States, accounting for 440,000 deaths, or nearly one of every five deaths, each year. It also causes more than 80 percent of all lung cancers and increases the risk for a number of other types of cancer, including oral, throat pancreatic, uterine, bladder, and kidney cancers.

"Our most effective tool for treating lung cancer is to prevent it from ever happening," explains Bruce E. Johnson, MD, director of the Lowe Center for Thoracic Oncology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.

Johnson emphasizes that it is never too late to quit. People who stop and remain a nonsmoker for at least 10 to 20 years can cut their risk of developing lung cancer in half. Even those who quit smoking in their 60s, 70s, and 80s benefit by reducing their risk of dying from a heart attack or from developing lung or head and neck cancer, says Johnson.

Johnson offers the following tips to help people to quit smoking:

First, commit to quit

  • Remember reason for wanting to quit: Family, children, personal health

  • Tell friends and family

  • Recruit the help, support and encouragement of family and friends
  • ........

    Janet      Permalink

    December 21, 2005

    Happiness May Lead To Success Via Positive Emotions

    Happiness May Lead To Success Via Positive Emotions
    Personal and professional success may lead to happiness but may also engender success. Happy individuals are predisposed to seek out and undertake new goals in life and this reinforces positive emotions, say scientists who examined the connections between desirable characteristics, life successes and well-being of over 275,000 people.

    From a review of 225 studies in the current issue of Psychological Bulletin, published by the American Psychological Association (APA), lead author Sonja Lyubomirsky, Ph.D., of the University of California, Riverside found that chronically happy people are in general more successful across a number of life domains than less happy people and their happiness is in large part a consequence of their positive emotions rather than vice versa. Happy people are more likely to achieve favorable life circumstances, said Dr. Lyubomirsky, and "this may be because happy people frequently experience positive moods and these positive moods prompt them to be more likely to work actively toward new goals and build new resources. When people feel happy, they tend to feel confident, optimistic, and energetic and others find them likable and sociable. Happy people are thus able to benefit from these perceptions.

    Lyubomirsky and co-authors Laura King, Ph.D., of University of Missouri, Columbia and Ed Diener, Ph.D., of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and The Gallup Organization examined studies involving three different types of evidence - cross-sectional, longitudinal and experimental designs - to determine how happiness and positive affect are related to culturally-valued success.

    The authors chose to use these different types of evidence to bolster their confidence in establishing cause-and-effect relationships among happiness, positive affect, and success. Cross-sectional studies compare different groups of people and answer questions like, "Are happy people more successful than unhappy people? and "Does long-term happiness and short term positive affect co-occur with desirable behaviors? Longitudinal studies examine groups of people over a period of time and address questions like, "Does happiness precede success? and "Does positive affect pave the way for success-like behaviors? Finally, experimental studies manipulate variables to test whether an outcome will occur under controlled conditions and answer questions like, "Does positive affect lead to success-oriented behaviors?........

    JoAnn      Permalink

    December 21, 2005

    Chronic Disability in Older Americans

    Chronic Disability in Older Americans
    The rates of chronic disability in older Americans has been substantially overestimated by about forty percent, scientists at Yale School of Medicine report in the December 12 Archives of Internal Medicine.

    "Our projections yielded about two million fewer chronically disabled older Americans in 1999, relative to the published estimate of seven million," said Thomas M. Gill, M.D., who co-authored the study with Evelyne A. Gahbauer, M.D.

    Gill, associate professor of medicine/geriatrics, obtained his findings using data from the "Yale PEP Study," which seeks to better understand how older persons manage day-to-day activities and remain independent at home. Titled "Epidemiology of Disability and Recovery in Older Persons," the PEP study includes 754 participants age 70 or older from the Greater New Haven area. Over the last eight years, participants have shared their experiences during a series of home assessments and monthly telephone interviews focusing on essential activities of daily living, such as bathing, dressing and walking.

    Patients were classified as having chronic disability based on the presence of disability during consecutive monthly interviews immediately before or after the fourth comprehensive assessment. Of the 552 participants, 16.1 to 17.2 percent met criteria for chronic disability, leading to a national estimate ranging from 4.9 to 5.3 million chronically disabled older Americans.

    Gill said accurate estimates of chronic disability are important for a variety of reasons. From a policy perspective, these estimates are often used to inform decisions regarding the current and future health care needs of older persons and to forecast the likely demand for long-term care. From an epidemiologic perspective, the causes of chronic disability, including pre-disposing risk factors and subsequent precipitants, may differ from those of short-term disability.........

    Janet      Permalink

    December 20, 2005

    Hormone Therapy Goes On Trial

    Hormone Therapy Goes On Trial Marcelle Cedars, MD
    Scientists at UCSF Medical Center are about to embark on a study with a controversial theme: Despite its bad reputation at present, can hormone treatment (HT) after menopause protect women from heart disease.

    "Heart disease is still the nation's leading killer of women, and we need to understand how the disease develops in women," said lead investigator Marcelle Cedars, MD, director of the Division of Reproductive Endocrinology in the UCSF Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences.

    UCSF is one of eight centers nationwide participating in the Kronos Early Estrogen Prevention Study, known as KEEPS, which is being by coordinated by the Phoenix-based Kronos Longevity Research Institute.

    UCSF is recruiting 90 healthy, recently menopausal women who have not had a hysterectomy, are six months to three years from their last menses, and are 42 to 58 years of age.

    KEEPS is a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind trial of 720 women designed to provide prospective data on the risks and benefits of HT in women who have recently begun menopause. Of particular interest is the role of estrogen during menses as it relates to the progression of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).

    Previous to 2002, most studies suggested that HT reduced the risk of heart disease by 30 to 50 percent. But in July of that year, the widely published Women's Health Initiative (WHI) was halted by the National Institutes of Health when results showed no preventive benefit against heart disease in women who were a number of years past menopause. The WHI was a primary prevention trial of estrogen plus progestin hormone treatment in 16,608 postmenopausal women between the ages 50-79. It was the first randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind trial of HT, and for this reason its results were believed to be nearly definitive, according to Cedars.........

    Emily      Permalink

    December 20, 2005

    Preventing Winter Sports Related Injuries

    Preventing Winter Sports Related Injuries
    Before you know it, snow will be falling and the wind-chills will be hovering down below zero. Now is the time to begin thinking about preventing winter sports and cold-related injuries. Dr. Trish Palmer, a sports medicine specialist and family medicine doctor at Rush University Medical Center, says most cold-related injuries can be prevented with a little planning, preparation and proper equipment.

    One of the most common winter related injuries is due to shoveling snow. "It is vigorous exercise and a big strain on the back that people don't appreciate," says Palmer. "The weight and position are really bad for two parts of your back. A disc could be compressed resulting in a pinched nerve. Also, the muscles in the lower back are small and easily strained".

    Palmer suggests preventing problems with good positioning and exercise. When you lift 10 pounds close to your body it exerts 10 pounds of pressure on the back. If you lift that same 10 pounds away from your body, as people often do when shoveling, it is seven times heavier exerting 70 pounds of pressure on the back.

    The best advice is don't do it. "Our bodies are not built to shovel snow," says Palmer. "Get a snowblower or pay the neighbor kid to do it for you".

    If you insist on shoveling yourself, Palmer suggests you start exercising now. "You need to get in shape and build up those back muscles before the snow falls".

    That advice holds true for winter sports as well. Exercising in cold weather places extra demands on the body. If you haven't exercised regularly in months, you are more likely to suffer an injury on the ski slopes or at the ice rink. Palmer, who is also a doctor committee member of the United States Ski and Snowboard Association, suggests paying special attention to muscles particular to your chosen sport.........

    Sue      Permalink

    December 19, 2005

    Good For The Heart And For The Wallet

    Good For The Heart And For The Wallet
    Health care costs often increase when newer, more effective therapies are introduced to the marketplace, placing a financial burden on patients and insurers that can last for years. However, the same may not be true for a drug recently shown to greatly improve outcomes in African-American heart failure patients.

    According to a report in today's issue of Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association, this heart failure drug is not only a promising therapy option, but one that is cost-effective as well.

    A team of scientists led by Derek Angus, M.D., M.P.H., professor of critical care medicine at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, examined data from the African-American Heart Failure Trial (A-HeFT) study in order to determine the trial participants' ongoing health care costs. AHeFT, the results of which were published November 2004 in the New England Journal of Medicine, compared outcomes in patients who took a medicine with two active drug ingredients, isosorbide dinitrate and hydralazine (ISDN/HYD), to those in patients receiving a placebo regimen. The trial demonstrated the effectiveness of ISDN/HYD for treating heart failure in African-American patients.

    According to the new analysis, total health care costs for the AHeFT participants who were treated with ISDN/HYD were 22 percent lower. Their total health care costs - those resulting from hospitalizations, doctors visits for any conditions or illnesses, but not including the cost of the drug itself - averaged $15,384 over the course of the 12-month trial. Such costs for patients who did not receive the drug averaged $19,728. Health care costs specifically related to heart failure were almost 34 percent lower on average, $5,997 versus $9,144. When the cost of the drug was factored in, there was still an average savings of 6 percent, or $533, on heart failure-related costs for ISDN/HYD patients compared to those who didn't receive the drug, and a 9 percent, or $1,730, average savings on total health care costs.........

    Daniel      Permalink

    December 19, 2005

    Survey Shows Continued Decline in Drug Use by Students

    Survey Shows Continued Decline in Drug Use by Students
    Overall, the 2005 Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey showed good news. While there was no substantive change in any illicit drug use between 2004 and 2005, analysis of the survey revealed an almost 19 percent decline in past month use of any illicit drug by 8th, 10th, and 12th graders between 2001 and 2005. This trend is driven largely by decreasing rates of marijuana use among these students. For example, since 2001, past month use of marijuana has fallen by 28 percent among 8th graders and by 23 percent among 10th graders.

    Since 1975 the MTF survey has measured drug, alcohol, and cigarette use and related attitudes among adolescent students nationwide. Survey participants report their drug use behaviors across three time periods: lifetime, past year, and past month. Overall, 49,347 students in the 8th, 10th, and 12th grades from 402 public and private schools participated in this year's survey. The survey is funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and conducted by the University of Michigan.

    While the 2005 survey showed a continuing general decline in drug use, there are continued high rates of non-medical use of prescription medications, particularly opioid painkillers. For example, in 2005, 9.5 percent of 12th graders reported using Vicodin in the past year, and 5.5 percent of these students reported using OxyContin in the past year. Long term trends show a significant increase in the abuse of OxyContin from 2002 to 2005 among 12th graders. Also of concern is the significant increase in the use of sedatives/barbiturates among 12th graders since 2001.

    "I'm pleased to see the decreased drug use noted in this survey; however, the upward trend in prescription drug abuse is disturbing," says NIH Director Dr. Elias Zerhouni. "We need to ensure that young people understand the very real risks of abusing any drug."........

    JoAnn      Permalink

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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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