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June 29, 2007, 5:02 AM CT

Therapeutic value of meditation unproven

Therapeutic value of meditation unproven
There is an enormous amount of interest in using meditation as a form of treatment to cope with a variety of modern-day health problems, particularly hypertension, stress and chronic pain, but the majority of evidence that seems to support this notion is anecdotal, or it comes from poor quality studies, say Maria Ospina and Kenneth Bond, scientists at the University of Alberta/Capital Health Evidence-based Practice Center in Edmonton, Canada.

In compiling their report, Ospina, Bond and their fellow scientists analyzed a mountain of medical and psychological literature813 studies in alllooking at the impact of meditation on conditions such as hypertension, cardiovascular diseases and substance abuse.

They found some evidence that certain types of meditation reduce blood pressure and stress in clinical populations. Among healthy individuals, practices such as Yoga seemed to increase verbal creativity and reduce heart rate, blood pressure and cholesterol. Typically however, ospina says no firm conclusions on the effects of meditation practices in health care can be drawn based on the available evidence because the existing scientific research is characterized by poor methodological quality and does not appear to have a common theoretical perspective.

Future research on meditation practices must be more rigorous in the design and execution of studies and in the analysis and reporting of results, Ospina explains.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source

June 28, 2007, 11:55 PM CT

Researchers identify alcoholism subtypes

Researchers identify alcoholism subtypes
Analyses of a national sample of individuals with alcohol dependence (alcoholism) reveal five distinct subtypes of the disease, as per a new study by researchers at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Our findings should help dispel the popular notion of the typical alcoholic, notes first author Howard B. Moss, M.D., NIAAA Associate Director for Clinical and Translational Research. We find that young adults comprise the largest group of alcoholics in this country, and nearly 20 percent of alcoholics are highly functional and well-educated with good incomes. More than half of the alcoholics in the United States have no multigenerational family history of the disease, suggesting that their form of alcoholism was unlikely to have genetic causes.

Clinicians have long recognized diverse manifestations of alcoholism, adds NIAAA Director Ting-Kai Li, M.D, and scientists have tried to understand why some alcoholics improve with specific medications and psychotherapies while others do not. The classification system described in this study will have broad application in both clinical and research settings. A report of the study is now available online in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source

June 27, 2007, 6:40 PM CT

Second-hand Smoke Causes Psychological Problems For Kids

Second-hand Smoke Causes Psychological Problems For Kids
Children whose mothers were exposed to second-hand smoke while they were pregnant have more symptoms of serious psychological problems compared to the offspring of women who had no prenatal exposure to smoke, according to a new University of Washington study.

Writing in the current issue of Child Psychiatry and Human Development, UW psychologists Lisa Gatzke-Kopp and Theodore Beauchaine provide the first evidence linking mothers second-hand smoke exposure while pregnant to their childrens attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and conduct disorder. Psychologists call these behaviors externalizing psychopathology and their symptoms include aggressive behavior, ADHD, defiance and conduct disorder, which encompasses truancy, fighting, school failure, breaking rules, substance use, stealing and destruction of property.

The research also supports a 2006 report by the U.S. Surgeon General that found passive smoke exposure poses a substantial risk to the general health of those who breathe the smoke, as well as to the fetuses of pregnant women.

Gatzke-Kopp and Beauchaine compared patterns psychopathology among three groups of 7- to 15-year-old children, all of whom had significant behavioral and/or emotional problems. One group experienced no prenatal smoke exposure. The second was made up of children whose mothers smoked during the final two trimesters of pregnancy. The third consisted of children whose mothers were exposed to second-hand smoke at work or in the home in the last two trimesters during pregnancy. A total of 171 children, primarily boys, and 133 women participated in the project.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source

June 27, 2007, 6:29 PM CT

Outdoor alcohol ads boost kids' urge to drink

Outdoor alcohol ads boost kids' urge to drink
In the world depicted in an alcohol billboard, bikini-clad babes clutch icy bottles, frothy beer flows over frosty mugs and the slogan reads, Life is good. Ads like these may target adults, but children are getting the message too, a University of Florida and University of Minnesota study shows.

Adolescents attending schools in neighborhoods where alcohol ads litter the landscape tend to want to drink more and, compared with other children, have more positive views of alcohol, scientists report in this months issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

UF and UM scientists counted the number of alcohol ads within a two-block radius of 63 Chicago schools and compared students opinions on drinking when they were in sixth grade and again two years later. The result" The more ads for alcohol there were in a neighborhood, the more students were interested in drinking alcohol, the findings show.

Most of the ads scientists found were beer signs in storefronts, eventhough they also counted billboards, bus stop signs and other types of ads. In total, there were about 931 ads for alcohol around the schools. On average, there were about 28 ads in each neighborhood, after excluding 22 schools where there were no ads. One school had more than 100.

The majority of the ads were just brand information only, said UF epidemiologist Kelli A. Komro, Ph.D., who studied these more subtle logo-only signs as well as more elaborate, image-laden billboards. Sometimes we believe that those as are not so powerful, but the majority of the ads we found were those kinds of ads and still we found the association with increased intentions to use alcohol.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source

June 27, 2007, 5:35 AM CT

Adding folic acid to bread

Adding folic acid to bread
A unique study by scientists at the University of York and Hull York Medical School has confirmed a link between depression and low levels of folate, a vitamin which comes from vegetables.

In research reported in the July edition of the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, the York team led by Dr Simon Gilbody, concluded that there was a link between depression and low folate levels, following a review of 11 prior studies involving 15,315 participants.

Last month, the Food Standards Agency recommended to UK Health Ministers the introduction of required fortification of either bread or flour with folic acid to prevent neural tube defects, which can result in miscarriage, neonatal death or lifelong disability. The York study suggests that the measure may also help in the fight against depression.

Dr Gilbody said: "Our study is unique in that for the first time all the relevant evidence in this controversial area has been brought together. Eventhough the research does not prove that low folate causes depression, we can now be sure that the two are linked. Interestingly, there is also some trial evidence that suggests folic acid supplements can benefit people with depression. We recommend that large trials should be carried out to further test this suggestion."........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source

June 27, 2007, 5:22 AM CT

Computerized doctors' orders reduce medication errors

Computerized doctors' orders reduce medication errors
Doctors are famous for sloppy scribbling and handwritten prescriptions lead to thousands of medicine errors each year. Electronics to the rescue: U.S. hospitals that switched to computerized doctor order entry systems saw a 66 percent drop in prescription errors, as per a new review of studies.

Illegible handwriting and transcription errors are responsible for as much as 61 percent of medicine errors in hospitals. A simple mistake such as putting the decimal point in the wrong place can have serious consequences because a patients dosage could be 10 times the recommended amount.

Drugs with similar names are another common source of error, such as the pain medicine Celebrex and the antidepressant Celexa, or the tranquilizer Zyprexa and the antihistamine Zyrtec.

These medicine errors are very painful for doctors, as well as the patients. Nobody wants to make a mistake, said Tatyana Shamliyan, lead review author and a research associate at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health.

The review appears online in the journal Health Services Research.

The University of Minnesota scientists looked at 12 studies that compared medicine errors with handwritten and computerized prescriptions from in-hospital doctors. Nearly a quarter of all hospital patients experience medicine errors, a rate that has increased from 5 percent in 1992, as per the study.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source

June 25, 2007, 8:08 PM CT

Scientists identify first gene linked to scoliosis

Scientists identify first gene linked to scoliosis
An X-ray of a case of scoliosis showing the abnormal curvature of the spine
Physicians have recognized scoliosis, the abnormal curvature of the spine, since the time of Hippocrates, but its causes have remained a mystery -- until now. For the first time, scientists have discovered a gene that underlies the condition, which affects about 3 percent of all children.

The new finding lays the groundwork for determining how a defect in the gene -- known as CHD7 -- leads to the C- and S-shaped curves that characterize scoliosis. The gene's link to scoliosis was identified by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, working in collaboration with researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children, both in Dallas, Rutgers State University of New Jersey and the University of Iowa. The group published its results in May in the American Journal of Human Genetics.

"Hopefully, we can now begin to understand the steps by which the gene affects spinal development," says Anne Bowcock, Ph.D., professor of genetics, of medicine and of pediatrics. "If we understand the genetic basis of the condition, we can theoretically predict who is going to develop scoliosis and develop therapys to intervene before the deformity sets in. It may take a number of years to accomplish these goals, but I think it will eventually happen".........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source

June 25, 2007, 7:45 PM CT

Down in the mouth?

Down in the mouth?
A womans mouth has a lot to say, even when its not talking. Things that alter the female body, such as prescription medications to help prevent diseases such as osteoporosis or depression, diabetes, or a vitamin deficiency, can affect a womans oral health, as per John Svirsky, DDS, MED, who will lead a discussion titled Drugs I Have Known and Loved for Diseases That We Catch during the 55th annual meeting of the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD) in San Diego, June 27 July 1, 2007.

New Test Determines if Osteoporosis Treatment Drug May Cause Jawbone to Die.

Patients with breast cancer, individuals at risk for osteoporosis, and individuals undergoing certain types of bone cancer therapies often take drugs that contain bisphosphonates. Bisphosphonates may place patients at risk for developing osteonecrosis of the jaws, which is irreversible damage in which the jaw bone rots away.

Bisphosphonates are a family of drugs administered orally or intravenously and are used to prevent and treat osteoporosis, multiple myeloma, Pagets disease (bone cancers), and bone metastasis from other cancers. These drugs can bond to bone surfaces and prevent osteoclasts (cells that breakdown bone) from doing their job. As per Dr. Svirsky, adverse affects from oral bisphosphonates will not show up until three years after the therapy starts, and after that time, the chance of developing osteonecrosis is still low. However, the occurence rate of developing complications while taking bisphosphonates intravenously is much higher.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source

June 25, 2007, 7:43 PM CT

Acidic Foods Could Destroy Enamel

Acidic Foods Could Destroy Enamel
Fruit, yogurt, citric and soft drinks, may seem like harmless snacks and beverages, but improper consumption and overuse may lead to devastating and permanent damage to teeth. Its known as tooth erosion, the break down of tooth structure caused by the effect of acid on the teeth that leads to decay. As per David Bartlett, BDS, PhD, who will lead a discussion at the Academy of General Dentistrys 55th annual meeting in San Diego, June 27-July 1, 2007, titled, Acid Erosion-Why is it Important to My Patients", Early diagnosis and prevention of the effects of tooth erosion are fundamental to keeping teeth healthy for life.

Sipping or holding acidic drinks in the mouth before swallowing increases the risk of erosion on dental enamel, says Dr. Bartlett. Dental enamel is the thin, outer layer of hard tissue that helps maintain the tooth's structure and shape while protecting it from decay.

Soft drinks, which contain acids, break the tooth surfaces. These acids also damage tooth enamel over time by dissolving the mineral structure of teeth, thinning the teeth. Eventually, because of repeated exposure to acid, the tooths enamel will lose its shape and color and as the damage progresses; the underlying dentin, (which is the tissue that makes up the core of each tooth), becomes exposed causing the teeth to look yellow.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source

June 25, 2007, 7:41 PM CT

Monkey studies parallel WHI findings

Monkey studies parallel WHI findings
Studies in female monkeys helped raise important questions about hormone treatment that were addressed in a Womens Health Initiative study reported last week in the New England Journal (NEJM). The animal research, conducted at the Wake Forest University Primate Center, also suggests the role that stress can play in heart disease development and point to the need for early prevention of heart disease.

Our research in monkeys suggests that stress can affect estrogen levels and may set the stage for heart disease during the later part of life, as per Jay Kaplan, Ph.D., professor of comparative medicine and director of the primate center. It also suggests women need to start thinking about heart disease prevention before menopause. We observed that the five years before menopause are when heart vessel disease begins to accelerate.

Kaplan and Thomas Clarkson, D.V.M., have published numerous articles from their monkey research on the effects of hormone treatment on heart vessel disease. Their findings, along with research in humans, were a driving force behind the hypothesis that there is a window of opportunity during which hormone treatment can help prevent atherosclerosis. The theory was explored in the Womens Health Initiative Coronary Artery Calcium Study (WHI-CAC).........

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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