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January 15, 2007, 9:33 PM CT

Common Gut Microbes May Contribute To Obesity

Common Gut Microbes May Contribute To Obesity
A link between obesity and the microbial communities living in our guts is suggested by new research at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. The findings indicate that our gut microbes are biomarkers, mediators and potential therapeutic targets in the war against the worldwide obesity epidemic.

In two studies published this week in the journal Nature, the researchers report that the relative abundance of two of the most common groups of gut bacteria is altered in both obese humans and mice. By sequencing the genes present in gut microbial communities of obese and lean mice, and by observing the effects of transplanting these communities into germ-free mice, the scientists showed that the obese microbial community has an increased capacity to harvest calories from the diet.

"The amount of calories you consume by eating, and the amount of calories you expend by exercising are key determinants of your tendency to be obese or lean," says lead investigator Jeffrey Gordon, M.D., director of the Center for Genome Sciences and the Dr. Robert J. Glaser Distinguished University Professor. "Our studies imply that differences in our gut microbial ecology may determine how a number of calories we are able to extract and absorb from our diet and deposit in our fat cells."........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


January 15, 2007, 5:10 AM CT

One In Four Specialist Trainee Doctors 'Very Worried'

One In Four Specialist Trainee Doctors 'Very Worried'
One in four specialist trainee doctors in England views their future job prospects as "poor" or "very worrying," as a result of changes in training and healthcare delivery, reveals a survey* published ahead of print in a special edition of Postgraduate Medical Journal.

While the government plans to shift the focus of care, especially for long term conditions, away from hospitals into the community, almost a third of those surveyed regarded working with patients directly in these settings as a "bad" or "very bad" development, the responses reveal.

Eight out of 10 respondents felt poorly prepared to meet the challenge of working as specialist practitioners in the community, and wanted additional training to enable them to work in the new environment.

Three out of four felt that this should take the form of a university based degree. But even with appropriate training, only half felt that they would be better equipped to find work as a consultant.

The study authors point out that by 2010, the number of medical graduates will have increased by 50%.

Coupled with the shift of emphasis to healthcare provision in community based facilities, and a much greater focus on prevention, this will create new responsibilities for doctors and drastically cut the number of hospital based specialists required, they say.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


January 15, 2007, 5:07 AM CT

New Genetic Clue To Cause Of Alzheimer's Disease

New Genetic Clue To Cause Of Alzheimer's Disease Tangles Alzheimer's
Variations in a gene known as SORL1 may be a factor in the development of late onset Alzheimer's disease, an international team of scientists has discovered. The genetic clue, which could lead to a better understanding of one cause of Alzheimer's, is reported in Nature Genetics online, Jan. 14, 2007, and was supported in part by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The scientists suggest that faulty versions of the SORL1 gene contribute to formation of amyloid plaques, a hallmark sign of Alzheimer's in the brains of people with the disease. They identified 29 variants that mark relatively short segments of DNA where disease-causing changes could lie. The study did not, however, identify specific genetic changes that result in Alzheimer's.

Richard Mayeux, M.D., of Columbia University, Lindsay Farrer, Ph.D., of Boston University, and Peter St. George-Hyslop, M.D., of the University of Toronto, led the study, which involved 14 collaborating institutions in North America, Europe and Asia, and 6,000 individuals who donated blood for genetic typing. The work was funded by NIH's National Institute on Aging (NIA) and National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), as well as by 18 other international public and private organizations.

"We do not fully understand what causes Alzheimer's disease, but we know that genetic factors can play a role," says NIA director Richard J. Hodes, M.D. "Researchers have previously identified three genes, variants of which can cause early onset Alzheimer's, and one that increases risk for the late onset form. This discovery provides a completely new genetic clue about the late onset forms of this very complex disease. We are eager to investigate the role of this gene further".........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


January 12, 2007, 4:57 AM CT

Bilingualism Has Protective Effect On Dementia

Bilingualism Has Protective Effect On Dementia
Canadian researchers have found astonishing evidence that the lifelong use of two languages can help delay the onset of dementia symptoms by four years in comparison to people who are monolingual.

There has been much interest and growing scientific literature examining how lifestyle factors such as physical activity, education and social engagement may help build "cognitive reserve" in later years of life. Cognitive reserve refers to enhanced neural plasticity, compensatory use of alternative brain regions, and enriched brain vasculature, all of which are thought to provide a general protective function against the onset of dementia symptoms.

Now researchers with the Rotman Research Institute at the Baycrest Research Centre for Aging and the Brain have found the first evidence that another lifestyle factor, bilingualism, may help delay dementia symptoms. The study is reported in the February 2007 issue of Neuropsychologia (Vol.45, No.2).

"We are pretty dazzled by the results," says principal investigator Ellen Bialystok, Ph.D., whose research team at Baycrest included psychology expert Dr. Fergus Craik, a world authority on age-related changes in memory processes, and neurologist Dr. Morris Freedman, an eminent authority on understanding the mechanisms underlying cognitive impairment due to diseases such as Alzheimer's.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


January 11, 2007, 9:07 PM CT

Intervention Can Cut Job Stress

Intervention Can Cut Job Stress
A simple workplace intervention can reduce the impact of stress on the heart, scientists reported in Hypertension: Journal of the American Heart Association.

Office workers who faced layoffs - a significant stress-inducer - were able to achieve small, but significant changes in heart rate variability and a small decrease in arterial blood pressure by participating in a stress management program at work.

After participating in the year-long stress management program, workers' scores on a test that measures perceived stress were significantly lower than baseline scores. Moreover, workers said they felt less tired than they did before the stress management training.

"And we were able to achieve these results in a working environment, without impinging on productivity, and with zero cost to the company," said Massimo Pagani, M.D., senior author of the study and professor of medicine at the University of Milan in Italy.

Job-related stress is one of several factors that may increase the risk of heart attack. So by addressing stress "at work, where stress occurs, rather than in a clinic, we may be able to prevent these workers from becoming patients," Pagani said.

Scientists recruited 91 office workers at a DuPont subsidiary in Italy which was downsizing its workforce by 10 percent. The average age of the volunteers was 40 years of age, 59 were men, who were, on average, normal weight with a body mass index (BMI) of 24 kg/m2. All of the volunteers said they were experiencing work-related stress.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


January 11, 2007, 7:48 PM CT

A nanotech solution to wrinkled skin

A nanotech solution to wrinkled skin
Those of us unhappy with our ageing skin may find solace in nanotechnology. Researchers who have discovered that nanoparticles prevent thin polymer films from buckling say their concept could be applied to stop human skin wrinkling too.

Nanoparticles are already marketed in cosmetic skin products; usually because they can penetrate much deeper into skin than conventional creams, delivering vitamins that are supposed to plump and soften the skin, reducing wrinkling. The approach of Ilsoon Lee, of Michigan State University, US, is somewhat different: nanoparticles in sufficient concentration, he suggests, may stop the skin ever wrinkling in the first place.

That's because the same underlying principles of wrinkling lie behind human skin and the polymer film systems which Lee has been investigating. Human skin, Lee says, consists of a thinner outer layer (the epidermis, around 50-100 µm thick) resting on top of a thicker layer (the dermis, around 1-3 mm thick). Similarly, thin polymer films used to create anticorrosion, water-repelling, or biocompatible surfaces, and also in electronic devices like thin film transistor (TFT) screens, are formed on top of a thicker substrate - a flexible plastic, for example.

Although skin is a living material, vastly more complicated than a polymer film, Lee believes that both heated film and aged skin wrinkle permanently because they stiffen up more than the soft plastic or dermis below them. The same effect is seen in dried fruits, when thin dried skin stiffens over a soft interior.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


January 11, 2007, 4:38 AM CT

Less Experienced Surgeons Practice On Black Patients

Less Experienced Surgeons Practice On Black Patients
Cardiac surgeons who are less experienced with the recently introduced off-pump techniques in coronary bypass surgery are more likely to perform such operations on black patients, as per US researchers.

Writing in the Royal Society of Medicine's, Journal of Health Services Research & Policy, the findings are based on over 15,000 coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) patients in New York State.

Traditionally, CABG is performed using the cardiopulmonary bypass to circulate blood externally during the operation, giving the surgeon a stable and blood-free environment in which to operate. The use of the cardiopulmonary bypass is not without risk and a number of cardiac surgeons associate it with serious complications, including cognitive deficits, stroke, renal failure, and pulmonary dysfunction.

Off-pump surgery, which is performed on the beating heart without the use of the cardiopulmonary bypass, was reintroduced in the late 1990s because a number of surgeons believed it may decrease the occurence rate of complications.

"Our research shows that surgeons who have less experience with the off-pump technique are more likely to perform this technique on black patients, rather than on white patients," said Professor Dana Mukamel of the University of California, Irvine.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


January 10, 2007, 8:46 PM CT

People With Mental Health Disabilities

People With Mental Health Disabilities
Sixteen years after Congress enacted the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), people with psychiatric disabilities are faring worse in court cases against employers for discrimination than are people with physical disabilities, scientists have found in a national study.

"People with psychiatric disabilities were less likely to receive a monetary award or job-related benefit, more likely to feel as though they were not treated fairly during the legal proceedings and more likely to believe they received less respect in court," said Jeffrey Swanson, Ph.D., a study investigator and an associate professor of psychiatry at Duke University Medical Center.

"When people with disabilities sue their employers for discriminating against them, they are hoping to achieve a tangible result, such as getting their job back or receiving some monetary compensation," Swanson said. "But that's not the only thing that matters. They want to be heard and treated fairly. Sometimes that alone can signal victory for a plaintiff, but if that doesn't happen, it can add insult to injury."

The findings are reported in the current issue (Volume 66, Issue 1) of the Maryland Law Review. The research was funded by the National Institute of Mental Health.

The scientists said the study is the first to examine how individuals with psychiatric disabilities fare in the court system.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


January 10, 2007, 5:07 AM CT

Milk Eliminates Cardiovascular Health Benefits Of Tea

Milk Eliminates Cardiovascular Health Benefits Of Tea
Tests on volunteers showed that black tea significantly improves the ability of the arteries to relax and expand, but adding milk completely blunts the effect. Supporting tests on rat aortas (aortic rings) and endothelial (lining) cells showed that tea relaxed the aortic rings by producing nitric oxide, which promotes dilation of blood vessels. But, again, adding milk blocked the effect.

The findings, by heart specialists and researchers from the Charite Hospital, Universitätsmedizin-Berlin, Gera number of, are bad news for tea-drinking nations like the British, who normally add milk to their beverage. The results have led the scientists to suggest that tea drinkers who customarily add milk should consider omitting it some of the time.

Their study showed that the culprit in milk is a group of proteins called caseins, which they found interacted with the tea to decrease the concentration of catechins in the beverage. Catechins are the flavonoids in tea that mainly contribute to its protection against cardiovascular disease.

Senior researcher Dr Verena Stangl, Professor of Cardiology (Molecular Atherosclerosis) at the hospital, said: "There is a broad body of evidence from experimental and clinical studies indicating that tea exerts antioxidative, anti-inflammatory and vasodilating effects, thereby protecting against cardiovascular diseases. As worldwide tea consumption is second only to that of water, its beneficial effects represent an important public health issue. But, up to now, it's not been known whether adding milk to tea, as widely practised in the UK and some other countries, influences these protective properties. So, we decided to investigate the effects of tea, with and without milk, on endothelial function, because that is a sensitive indicator of what is happening to blood vessels."........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


January 9, 2007, 10:00 PM CT

Calcium For Nursing Mothers' Oral Health

Calcium For Nursing Mothers' Oral Health
Mothers who breastfeed should be sure to have enough Calcium in their diet, or may risk bone loss around their teeth and gums, as per a new study that appears in the recent issue of the Journal of Periodontology (JOP).

Scientists from Tohoku University in Japan investigated if lactation affects alveolar bone loss, the bone surrounding the roots of teeth, in rat models of experimental periodontitis. They found mothers who are lactating could put the bone structures around their teeth at risk, particularly when there was not enough Calcium in their diet.

"Our research emphasized the importance of having a high-Calcium diet while breast-feeding," said Dr. Kanako Shoji, Division of Periodontology and Endodontology at Tohoku University. "While our study was on a rat population, the evidence confirmed that breastfeeding can cause increased bone loss in the mother, particularly when the mother has insufficient Calcium intake. But additional studies in human populations are necessary to confirm these findings."

The study showed that all groups with insufficient Calcium intake saw an acute inflammatory reaction in periodontal tissues and disruption of the gingival epithelium, the tissues surrounding the teeth, in addition to increased attachment loss, and increased alveolar bone loss. Those groups which were lactating saw even greater attachment loss and bone loss.........

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.

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