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March 24, 2008, 8:07 PM CT

JAMA editor-in-chief comments on Pfizer lawsuit

JAMA editor-in-chief comments on Pfizer lawsuit
In an editorial published early online today, JAMA Editor-in-Chief Catherine D. DeAngelis, M.D., M.P.H., and JAMA Editorial Counsel Joseph P. Thornton, J.D., write about a recent court ruling regarding litigation involving JAMA and the Archives of Internal Medicine (AIM) that significantly threatened the integrity of our peer review process.

Attorneys for the pharmaceutical company Pfizer, Inc. had issued subpoenas last year to obtain confidential information from the journals concerning studies published on the pain relief medications called COX-2 inhibitors (cyclooxygenase 2 inhibitors) celecoxib and valdecoxib.

the subpoenas sought all documents regarding the decision to accept or reject manuscripts, copies of rejected manuscripts, the identities of peer reviewers and the manuscripts they evaluated, and the comments by and among peer reviewers and editor regarding manuscripts, revisions, and publication decisions. For months, JAMA and AIM consistently argued that the sanctity of the confidential peer review process should not be violated.

In a ruling issued March 14, 2008, the Court agreed with JAMA and AIM that information kept confidential from Pfizer, the general public, and the medical community at large was irrelevant to the pending claims.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


March 24, 2008, 7:53 PM CT

Obesity and cancer sreening

Obesity and cancer sreening
A review of cancer screening studies shows that white women who are obese are less likely than healthy weight women to get the recommended screenings for breast and cervical cancer, as per scientists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hills School of Public Health.

The trend was not seen as consistently among black women; however there were fewer high quality studies that examined black women separately.

Obesity is increasing, and so is the evidence that obesity increases the risk of certain cancers like colorectal cancer and post-menopausal breast cancer, said Sarah S. Cohen, lead author of the article published online today by the American Cancer Society. Its a disturbing trend, then, to see that women who are at increased risk of cancer because of their body size are less likely to be receiving screening tests that can detect cancer early, when it is treatable.

Cohen and her colleagues from the UNC School of Public Healths epidemiology department and the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center evaluated 32 relevant published studies on breast, cervical and colorectal cancers that considered associations between obesity and screening tests recommended for women in the United States.

The most consistent associations reported across all the studies were for cervical cancer screenings, with fewer women getting the recommended screening test (Papanicolaou or Pap tests) as body mass index increased. The studies showed a stronger trend among white women than black women.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


March 24, 2008, 7:50 PM CT

Dramatic Rise in Hepatitis C-Related Deaths in the United States

Dramatic Rise in Hepatitis C-Related Deaths in the United States
Hepatitis C-related deaths in the United States increased by 123 percent from 1995 through 2004, the most recent year for which data are available. Mortality rates peaked in 2002, then declined slightly overall, while continuing to rise among people 55 to 64 years old. These findings are reported in the recent issue of Hepatology, a journal of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD). The article is also available online at Wiley Interscience (www.interscience.wiley.com).

Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is the most common blood-borne infection in the United States, affecting about 1.3 percent of the population. Up to one-in-five sufferers develop liver cirrhosis, and up to one-in-20 develop liver cancer. HCV is the top reason for liver transplantation, and the 16th leading cause of premature death in the country. Recent evidence has suggested that disease burden and mortality from chronic HCV infection may increase in the coming years, as the number of persons with longstanding infections continues to rise.

To update estimates of trends and demographics of hepatitis C-related mortality in the U.S., a team of scientists led by Matthew Wise of UCLA and including scientists from the CDC and the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health analyzed mortality rates derived from U.S. Census and multiple-cause-of-death data from 1995-2004. They included 56,409 HCV related deaths, including those for which the disease was the underlying cause; those for which chronic liver disease was the underlying cause and hepatitis C was a contributing cause; and those for which HIV was the underlying cause and chronic liver disease and hepatitis C were contributing causes.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


March 18, 2008, 8:29 PM CT

Lack Of Exercise And Chronic Disease

Lack Of Exercise And Chronic Disease
For years, researchers have been proclaiming the benefits of exercise. Studies showing that regular exercise benefits human health have exploded in number, examining a number of health problems ranging from cancer and diabetes to arthritis and pre-mature death.

Now, a University of Missouri researcher has found direct evidence to support the claim of the Centers for Disease Control that a reduction in daily physical activity is an actual cause of a number of of the risk factors for chronic diseases, including diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The research team also observed that it only takes about two weeks of reduced activity for individuals to start noticing the effects. The study is being reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) this week.

A low level of daily physical activity not only doesnt help your current health status, it could be the reason you got sick in the first place, said Frank Booth, professor of biomedical sciences in the MU College of Veterinary Medicine. Our study looked at what happened when a group of individuals reduced their daily physical activity. Our findings indicated that if there is a lack of normal physical activity, a person greatly increases the chances of developing a chronic disease. Previously, we thought that not exercising just wasnt healthy, but we didnt believe that a lack of activity could cause disease. That assumption was wrong.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


March 18, 2008, 5:09 AM CT

Pycnogenol improves memory in elderly

Pycnogenol improves memory in elderly
New research accepted for publication in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, demonstrates Pycnogenol, (pic-noj-en-all), an antioxidant plant extract from the bark of the French maritime pine tree, improves the memory of senior citizens.

The study results revealed Pycnogenol improved both numerical working memory as well as spatial working memory using a computerized testing system. The research was presented last week at the Oxygen Club of California 2008 World Congress on Oxidants and Antioxidants in Biology in Santa Barbara, CA.

These results support research from a range of disciplines that suggest that antioxidants may have an effect in preserving or enhancing specific mental functions, said Dr. Con Stough, lead researcher of the study. Cognitive research in this area specifically indicates that the putative benefits linked to antioxidant supplementation are linked to memory.

The double-blind, placebo controlled, matched pairs study, which was held at the Centre for Neuropsychology at Swinburne University, Melbourne Australia, examined the effects of Pycnogenol on a range of cognitive and biochemical measures in 101 senior individuals aged 60-85 years old. The study also examined the oxidative stress hypothesis of ageing and neurological degeneration as it relates to normal changes in cognition in elderly individuals. Participant screening for the study included medical history and cognitive assessment. Participants consumed a daily dose of 150mg of Pycnogenol for a three-month therapy period and were assessed at baseline then at one, two and three months of the therapy. The control and Pycnogenol groups were matched by age, sex, BMI, micronutrient intake and intelligence. The cognitive tasks comprised measures of attention, working memory, episodic memory and psycho-motor performance.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


March 17, 2008, 10:13 PM CT

Curbing teen drinking difficult in urban areas

Curbing teen drinking difficult in urban areas
Keeping middle schoolers from alcohol is a tougher task in the inner city than in rural areas, even for experts armed with the best prevention programs, a new University of Florida study shows.

A three-year, three-pronged prevention program did little to keep Chicago middle schoolers from drinking or using drugs, despite its previous success in rural Minnesota, where the program reduced alcohol use 20 to 30 percent, UF and University of Minnesota scientists recently published in the online edition of the journal Addiction.

The intervention found to be effective in rural areas was not effective here, which really surprised us, said Kelli A. Komro, a UF associate professor of epidemiology in the UF College of Medicine and the studys lead author. This is an important finding to realize this program was not enough. The bottom line is this: Low-income children in urban areas need more, long-term intensive efforts.

Adolescents who drink by age 15 -- about half of teens -- are more likely to struggle in school, abuse alcohol during the later part of life, smoke cigarettes and use other drugs than those who dont. Even worse, exposure to alcohol at a young age may damage the developing brain, as per a 2007 U.S. Surgeon General report.

Almost any problem kids might have, alcohol increases that risk, Komro said.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


March 12, 2008, 9:29 PM CT

Ibuprofen Works Against Aspirin

Ibuprofen Works Against Aspirin
Stroke patients who use ibuprofen for arthritis pain or other conditions while taking aspirin to reduce the risk of a second stroke undermine aspirin's ability to act as an anti-platelet agent, scientists at the University at Buffalo have shown.

In a cohort of patients seen by physicians at two offices of the Dent Neurologic Institute, 28 patients were identified as taking both aspirin and ibuprofen (a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, or NSAID) daily and all were found to have no anti-platelet effect from their daily aspirin.

Thirteen of these patients were being seen because they had a second stroke/TIA while taking aspirin and a NSAID, and were platelet non-responsive to aspirin (aspirin resistant) at the time of that stroke.

The scientists observed that when 18 of the 28 patients returned for a second neurological visit after discontinuing NSAID use and were tested again, all had regained their aspirin sensitivity and its ability to prevent blood platelets from aggregating and blocking arteries.

The study is the first to show the clinical consequences of the aspirin/NSAID interaction in patients being treated for prevention of a second stroke, and presents a possible explanation of the mechanism of action.

The Food and Drug Administration currently warns that ibuprofen might make aspirin less effective, but states that the clinical implications of the interaction have not been reviewed.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


March 11, 2008, 10:10 PM CT

Revise guidelines for weight gain during pregnancy

Revise guidelines for weight gain during pregnancy
Current recommendations for weight gain during pregnancy developed by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) in 1990 should be revised, as per an internationally recognized obesity expert and chairman of the department of obstetrics, gynecology and womens health at Saint Louis University.

The editorial by Raul Artal, M.D., who has conducted extensive research on obesity during pregnancy, appears in the recent issue of Expert Review of Obstetrics and Gynecology, an international medical journal.

Recommendations by the IOM, which are followed worldwide by obstetricians, encourage obese women to gain at least 15 pounds during pregnancy and specify no upper limit for weight gain. The IOM is a panel of national experts who provide advice on medical and health issues.

Overweight or obese women dont need to gain that much weight and should exercise and watch their calorie consumption during pregnancy, Artal said.

Pregnancy has become over the years a state of indulgence and confinement, he wrote. Pregnancy is an ideal time for behavior modification that includes physical activity and with proper medical supervision it can be safely prescribed.

The IOM guidelines were not grounded in scientific evidence, Artal said, and focused primarily on preventing low birth-weight deliveries, which generally occur when women who are underweight and of normal weight dont gain enough weight during pregnancy.........

Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source


March 11, 2008, 5:32 AM CT

Life expectancy rises for the educated

Life expectancy rises for the educated
It's no secret that over the last few decades, life expectancy in the United States has been rising. However, recent data shows that not everyone has benefited from this encouraging trend. New findings from Harvard Medical School and Harvard University demonstrate that individuals with more than 12 years of education have significantly longer life expectancy than those who never went beyond high school.

We like to believe that as we as a country get healthier, everyone benefits, says David Cutler, dean for social sciences at the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University, and co-author of study. Here weve observed that you can have a rising tide that only lifts half the boatsand the ones lifted are the ones doing better to begin with.

The research, which was conducted by Cutler and Ellen Meara, assistant professor of health care policy at Harvard Medical School, appears in the March/April edition of the journal Health Affairs.

Over the years, much attention has been paid to mortality rates based on socio-economic status, but less attention has been paid to recent trends in life expectancy, mortality, and education level. To understand recent mortality trends, Meara and Cutler combined death certificate data with census population estimates and data from the National Longitudinal Mortality Study. Restricting analyses to whites and non-Hispanic blacks, the team created two separate data sets, one covering 1981-1988, and the other 1990-2000.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


March 9, 2008, 5:08 PM CT

Profound Impact Of Our Unconscious On Reaching Goals

Profound Impact Of Our Unconscious On Reaching Goals
Whether you are a habitual list maker, or you prefer to keep your tasks in your head, everyone pursues their goals in this ever changing, chaotic environment. We are often aware of our conscious decisions that bring us closer to reaching our goals, however to what extent can we count on our unconscious processes to pilot us toward our destined future?

People can learn rather complex structures of the environment and do so implicitly, or without intention. Could this unconscious learning be better if we really wanted it to?.

Hebrew University psychology experts, Baruch Eitam, Ran Hassin and Yaacov Schul, examined the benefit of non-conscious goal pursuit (moving toward a desired goal without being aware of doing so) in new environments. Existing theory suggests that non-conscious goal pursuit only reproduces formerly learned actions, therefore ineffective in mastering a new skill. Eitam and his colleagues argue the opposite: that non-conscious goal pursuit can help people achieve their goals, even in a new environment, in which they have no previous experience.

In the first of two experiments, Eitam and his colleagues had participants complete a word search task. One half of the participants' puzzles included words linked to achievement (e.g. strive, succeed, first, and win), while the other half performed a motivationally neutral puzzle including words such as, carpet, diamond and hat. Then participants performed a computerized simulation of running a sugar factory. Their goal in the simulation was to produce a specific amount of sugar. They were only told that they could change the number of employees in the factory. Eventhough participants were not told about the complex relationship that existed between the number of employees and past production levels (and could not verbalize it after the experiment had ended); they gradually grew better in controlling the factory.........

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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