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January 10, 2008, 10:38 PM CT

Eat less or exercise more?

Eat less or exercise more?
Overweight people who lose a moderate amount of weight get an immediate benefit in the form of better heart health, as per a research studyconducted at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. And the heart improvements happen whether that weight is shed by eating less or exercising more.

"If individuals want to do something that's good for their heart, then my message to them is lose weight by the method they find most tolerable," says the study's senior author Sndor J. Kovcs, Ph.D, M.D., director of the Cardiovascular Biophysics Laboratory and professor of medicine. "They're virtually guaranteed that it will have a salutary effect on their cardiovascular system".

Studying a group of healthy, overweight but not obese, middle-aged men and women, the scientists observed that a yearlong regimen of either calorie restriction or exercise increase had positive effects on heart function. Their analysis revealed that heart function was restored to a more youthful state so that during the heart's filling phase (called diastole) it took less time for participants' hearts to relax and fill with blood. The findings will appear in an upcoming issue of the American Journal of Physiology and are now available online.

"As we get older, our tissues become more fibrotic as collagen fibers accumulate," says co-author of study John O. Holloszy, M.D., professor of medicine in the Division of Geriatrics and Nutritional Science. "So the arteries and heart muscle stiffen, and the heart doesn't relax as well after contracting. Similar studies that we've conducted with members of the Caloric Restriction with Optimal Nutrition Society (CRONies) show they have heart function resembling much younger people." CRONies voluntarily consume about 25 percent fewer calories than the average American while still maintaining good nutrition.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


January 8, 2008, 8:59 PM CT

Americans pay the most for prescription drugs

Americans pay the most for prescription drugs
An international study of dialysis patients shows that eventhough U.S. residents have the highest out-of-pocket drug costs, even those who can afford their prescription drugs are far less likely to take them than patients in other countries.

The new research from the University of Michigan School of Public Health and the Arbor Research Collaborative for Health observed that high out-of-pocket drug costs are only a partial reason why fewer American dialysis patients took their medications than in other countries, said Richard Hirth, professor at the U-M School of Public Health.

"There is something about Americans that make them more noncompliant with their drugs even when you leave out the higher cost of the drugs," said Hirth, who co-authored the paper with Scott Greer, assistant professor at the School of Public Health. "The study looked at drug costs and adherence in hemodialysis patients from 12 developed countries participating in the Dialysis Outcomes and Practice Patterns Study.

Dialysis patients in the United Kingdom enjoyed the lowest out-of-pocket spending, at $8 per month, in comparison to $114 per month in the United States. The percentage of people who did not adhere to their drug regimens because of cost ranged from 3 percent in Japan to 29 percent in the United States-a percentage higher than expected, even accounting for the high cost of U.S. prescriptions, Hirth said.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


January 8, 2008, 5:18 AM CT

4 health behaviors can add 14 extra years of life

4 health behaviors can add 14 extra years of life
People who adopt four healthy behaviours not smoking; taking exercise; moderate alcohol intake; and eating five servings of fruit and vegetables a day live on average an additional fourteen years of life compared with people who adopt none of these behaviours, as per a research studyreported in the open access journal PLoS Medicine.

Rather than focusing on how an individual factor is correlation to health, the study calculates the combined impact of these four simply-defined forms of behaviour. The results suggest that several small lifestyle changes could have a marked impact on the health of populations.

There is overwhelming evidence showing that lifestyles such as smoking, diet and physical activity influence health and longevity but there is little information about their combined impact. Furthermore the huge amount of information provided by these studies and the varying definitions of a health behaviour that these studies use can often make them confusing for public health professionals and for the general public. For example: small amounts of alcohol appear to be correlation to lower risk of cardiovascular disease health but what is the overall impact on longevity ".

In order to examine the combined impact of lifestyle changes, Kay-Tee Khaw and his colleagues from the University of Cambridge and the Medical Research Council used a health behaviour score that is easy to understand in order to assess the participants in the study (who were from Norfolk, United Kingdom). Between 1993 and 1997, 20,000 men and women between the ages of 45 and 79, none of whom had known cancer or heart or circulatory disease, completed a questionnaire that resulted in a score between 0 and 4. A point was awarded for each of the following: not currently smoking; not being physically inactive (physical inactivity was defined as having a sedentary job and not doing any recreational exercise); a moderate alcohol intake of 1-14 units a week (a unit is half a pint of beer or a glass of wine); and a blood vitamin C level consistent with eating five servings of fruit or vegetables a day. Deaths among the participants were recorded unti l 2006.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


January 6, 2008, 10:19 PM CT

Contact lenses purchased over Internet

Contact lenses purchased over Internet
Purchasing contact lenses online may save consumers time, but the process could cause more problems in the long run, as per a new study published in the recent issue of Optometry: Journal of the American Optometric Association. This research, which was conducted by Joshua Fogel, Ph.D., and Chaya Zidile of Brooklyn College, observed that individuals who did not purchase their contact lenses from an eye doctor, but from an online site or store, are potentially placing themselves at greater risk. The findings indicated that online and store purchasers (consumers who get their contacts at a wholesale club or optical chain outlet) are less likely to adhere to healthy eye care practices, as recommended by their eye doctor.

As per the Contact Lens Institute (CLI), more than 30 million individuals wear contact lenses. With the Fairness to Contact Lens Consumers Act taking effect in 2004, mandating that the prescribing eye doctor provide a copy of the contact lens prescription at no charge to the patient, consumers have the option to purchase their lenses (with a valid prescription) elsewhere. With the Internet becoming a more recognized source for health and medical information, consumers are increasingly purchasing their contact lenses online.

We observed that a pattern exists regarding the method of contact lens purchasing and following recommendations from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), said Dr. Fogel. Those who bought contact lenses at their doctors office followed many FDA recommendations more so than those who bought contact lenses elsewhere.........

Posted by: Mike      Read more         Source


January 3, 2008, 9:51 PM CT

Surprising findings about drinking behavior

Surprising findings about drinking behavior
Results are reported in the recent issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research

Most studies use survey methods that require people to recall their drinking behavior days, weeks or months previous and such recall is not always accurate, noted J.D. Clapp, director of the Center for Alcohol and Drug Studies and Services at San Diego State University and corresponding author for the study. By going out into the field and doing observations and surveys, including breath tests for alcohol concentrations, we were able to mitigate a number of of the problems linked to recall of behavior and complex settings.

In addition, said James A. Cranford, research assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Michigan, this study is unique in its focus on both individual- and environmental-level predictors of alcohol involvement. Rather than relying on students' reports of the environment, scientists actually gained access to college-student parties and made detailed observations about the characteristics of these parties.

For three academic semesters, scientists conducted a multi-level examination of 1,304 young adults (751 males, 553females) who were attending 66 college parties in private residences located close to an urban public university in southern California. Measures included observations of party environments, self-administered questionnaires, and collection of blood-alcohol concentrations (BrACs).........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


January 3, 2008, 9:46 PM CT

Internists prescribe placebos on occasion

Internists prescribe placebos on occasion
In the first study examining American physicians' use of placebos in clinical practice in the 21st Century, 45 percent of Chicago internists report they have used a placebo at some time during their clinical practice scientists report in the recent issue of Journal of General Internal Medicine.

This study indicates a need for greater recognition of the use of placebos and unproven therapies and discussion about its implications," say the study authors, Rachel Sherman, a fourth year medical student at the University of Chicago's Pritzker School of Medicine, and John Hickner, MD, MSc, professor of family medicine, at the University of Chicago and University of Chicago Medical Center.

The authors sent questionnaires inquiring about placebo use to 466 internists at the University of Chicago, Northwestern University, and University of Illinois Chicago. Fifty percent (231) of the physicians responded.

"Placebos have been used in medicine since ancient times, and remain both clinically relevant and philosophically interesting. In addition to their recognized use as controls in clinical trials, this study suggests that placebos themselves are viewed as therapeutic tools in medical practice," says Sherman.

Of the respondents who reported using placebos in clinical practice, 34 percent introduced the placebos to the patient as "a substance that may help and will not hurt." Nineteen percent said, "it is medication," and nine percent said, "it is medicine with no specific effect." Only four percent of the physicians explicitly said, "it is a placebo." In addition, 33 percent of the physicians reported they gave other information to patients, including, "this may help you but I am not sure how it works".........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


January 3, 2008, 9:19 PM CT

Why Some Depressed Girls Can't Smell The Roses

Why Some Depressed Girls Can't Smell The Roses
Can't smell the roses? Maybe you're depressed. Smell too much like a rose yourself? Maybe you've got the same problem. Researchers from Tel Aviv University recently linked depression to a biological mechanism that affects the olfactory glands. It might explain why some women, without realizing it, wear too much perfume.

Scientific research that supports this theory was published this year in the journal Arthritis and Rheumatism. "Our scientific findings suggest that women who are depressed are also losing their sense of smell, and may overcompensate by using more perfume," explains researcher Prof. Yehuda Shoenfeld, a member of the Sackler Faculty of Medicine at Tel Aviv University. "We also think that depression has biological roots and may be an immune system response to certain physiological cues".

Women who are depressed are also more likely to lose weight. With a reduced sense of smell, they are less likely to have a healthy appetite, he says.

Prof. Shoenfeld draws his conclusions from lifetime research on autoimmune diseases, focusing on conditions such as lupus, arthritis and rheumatism.

More Than a Feeling

Affecting about 1.5 million Americans, depression accompanying lupus, Prof. Shoenfeld has found, is much more than an emotional reaction to being ill. It appears to have a biological cause.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


January 3, 2008, 9:10 PM CT

Healing Value of Magnets

Healing Value of Magnets
Thomas Skalak
(Photo: Melissa Maki)
Magnets have been touted for their healing properties since ancient Greece. Magnetic treatment is still widely used today as an alternative method for treating many conditions, from arthritis to depression, but there hasn't been scientific proof that magnets can heal.

Lack of regulation and widespread public acceptance have turned magnetic treatment into a $5 billion world market. Hopeful consumers buy bracelets, knee braces, shoe inserts, mattresses, and other products that are embedded with magnets based on anecdotal evidence, hoping for a non-invasive and drug-free cure to what ails them.

"The FDA regulates specific claims of medical efficacy, but in general static magnetic fields are viewed as safe," notes Thomas Skalak, professor and chair of biomedical engineering at U.Va.

Skalak has been carefully studying magnets for many years in order to develop real scientific evidence about the effectiveness of magnetic treatment.

Skalak's lab leads the field in the area of microcirculation research-the study of blood flow through the body's tiniest blood vessels. With a five-year, $875,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health's National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Skalak and Cassandra Morris, former Ph.D. student in biomedical engineering, set out to investigate the effect of magnetic treatment on microcirculation. Initially, they sought to examine a major claim made by companies that sell magnets: that magnets increase blood flow.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


January 3, 2008, 9:01 PM CT

Most TV prescription drug ads minimize risk information

Most TV prescription drug ads minimize risk information
Prescription drug ads on television first hit the airwaves just over a decade ago, but a new University of Georgia study finds that most of them still do not present a fair balance of information, particularly when it comes to the risk of side effects.

A team led by Wendy Macias, associate professor in the UGA Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, analyzed a week's worth of direct-to-consumer ads on broadcast and cable television. The observed that the average 60-second ad contained less than 8 seconds (13 percent of total ad time) of side effect disclaimers, while the average 30-second ad has less than 4.4 seconds (15 percent of total ad time) of disclaimers. Most of the 15-second ads studied devoted no time at all to disclaimers.

"These ads clearly don't devote enough time to information about risk," said Macias, whose results appear in the November/recent issue of the journal Health Communication. "Adding to the problem is that the information is often presented in a way that people aren't likely to comprehend or even pay attention to".

Macias and her team, which includes Kartik Pashupati at Southern Methodist University and Liza Lewis at The University of Texas at Austin, observed that almost all of the ads disclosed side effects solely in a voice-over portion of the ad. Only 2.2 percent of ads had the disclosure in voice-over as well as in text form.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


January 3, 2008, 8:43 PM CT

Acid Reflux and Survival

Acid Reflux and Survival
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), often known as acid reflux, is a common problem that has been linked to cancers, asthma, recurrent aspiration and pulmonary fibrosis. A new study published in The American Journal of Gastroenterology examines whether GERD sufferers may have shorter lifespans than those without the disease.

Drawing on over 50,000 person-years of data, the study provides reassuring evidence that people with acid reflux symptoms do not have an increased risk of death, finding no difference in survival rates between sufferers and non-sufferers.

In fact, the study finds that people with infrequent acid reflux may actually have better survival rates than those with either daily symptoms, or none at all. "It may be that occasional reflux symptoms are a reflection of potential protective behaviors that are linked to reflux, such as regular exercise or modest amounts of alcohol ingestion," suggest Nicholas J. Talley and G. Richard Locke, III, co-authors of the study.

The study adds perspective to the risk of acid reflux symptoms. While there are a large number of acid reflux sufferers in the U.S., incidences of related cancer are extremely rare. "Eventhough extraesophageal manifestations occur in some people with reflux disease, our results suggest that this disease is a non-malignant condition in the vast majority of sufferers," say the authors.........

Posted by: Sue      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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