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March 14, 2006, 7:25 AM CT

Radon And Lung Cancer

Radon And Lung Cancer
Scientists and researchers point out that recently there is an increase in the number of lung cancer diagnosis among nonsmokers. This is particularly true for women. Recent sad and untimely demise of Dana Reeve has heightened public awareness about lung cancer, particularly among people who have never smoked.

While cigarette smoking is still the leading cause of lung cancer, other factors such as passive smoking and exposure to radon gas from the house environment are increasingly coming in to highlight. Lung cancer from smoking and passing exposure to smoke claims an estimated 163,000 lung cancer deaths in the U.S. every year. It is estimated that radon is the cause of another 21,000 cases of lung cancer deaths annually in the United States, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates.

Experts claim that a number of of these deaths due to exposure to radon gas could be prevented if enough precautions are taken. Nationally, about 1 in 15 homes has high radon levels, and that number is higher in some states.

It is not possible to detect the presence of radon gas in your house environment because it is a colorless, odorless tasteless gas. Radon gas is produced as part of the natural decay process of uranium. Areas, which have high content of mineral such as some mountainous areas, may have a higher risk of increased levels of radon gas.........

Posted by: Scott      Permalink

March 13, 2006, 10:39 PM CT

Obesity Surgery May Confer Cardiac Benefit

As rates of obesity in America continue to soar, surgery has become an increasingly popular solution when diet and exercise regimens fail. Bariatric surgery is now an approved therapeutic intervention for class II-III obesity, and may correlate to improved risk for heart disease. In a study presented today at the American College of Cardiology's 55th Annual Scientific Session, a team of scientists from the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota evaluated the effect of bariatric surgery on longterm cardiovascular risk and estimated prevented outcomes. ACC.06 is the premier cardiovascular medical meeting, bringing together over 30,000 cardiologists to further breakthroughs in cardiovascular medicine.

The team completed a historical study between 1990 and 2003 of 197 patients with class II-III obesity who undertook Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery (sometimes referred to as "stomach stapling"), compared to 163 control patients enrolled in a weight reduction program. With an average follow-up time of 3.3 years, the team recorded changes in cardiovascular risk factors such as cholesterol levels, body mass index (BMI) and diabetes criteria.

Though the team originally estimated a higher 10-year risk for cardiac events in the surgical group at the start of the study due to their associated conditions, scientists found at follow-up that the patients had a much lower risk than the control group for having a heart complication (18.3 vs. 30 percent). Using the study parameters and risk models based on previously published data, the team estimated that for every 100 patients, the surgery would prevent 16.2 cardiovascular events and 4.1 overall deaths, as compared to the control group. However, should the number of deaths during surgery approach 4 percent, the protective effect is limited, as may be in the case in centers with very low volumes of weight loss surgeries.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source

March 13, 2006, 10:28 PM CT

Coffee Reduces Risk Of Pancreatitis

Coffee Reduces Risk Of Pancreatitis
Researchers at the University of Liverpool have found how coffee can reduce the risk of alcohol-induced pancreatitis.

Pancreatitis is a condition in which the pancreas becomes inflamed, causing severe abdominal pain. It is often triggered by alcohol consumption which causes digestive enzymes to digest part of the pancreas.

Researchers have known for some time that coffee can reduce the risk of alcoholic pancreatitis, but have been unable to determine how. Scientists at the University have now discovered that caffeine can partially close special channels within cells, reducing to some extent the damaging effects of alcohol products on the pancreas.

Professor Ole Petersen and Professor Robert Sutton, from the University's Physiological Laboratory and Division of Surgery, have found that cells in the pancreas can be damaged by products of alcohol and fat formed in the pancreas when oxygen levels in the organ are low. Under these conditions, excessive amounts of calcium are released from stores within the cells of the pancreas. Special organelles, called mitochondria, also become damaged and cannot produce the energiser that normally allows calcium to be pumped out of the cells. The excess calcium then activates protein breakdown, destroying the cells in the pancreas.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source

March 13, 2006, 10:20 PM CT

Diabetic patients overestimate body weight

Diabetic patients overestimate body weight
Heavier patients with diabetes are more likely to overestimate their "healthiest" body weight compared to those of normal weight, as per a research studyreported in the current issue of Diabetes Care.

"We wanted to understand how well patients with diabetes could identify healthy body weight because self-management is an essential part of diabetes therapy," said Kathleen McTigue, M.D., M.P.H., assistant professor of medicine at the University of Pittsburgh and first author of the study. "Understanding weight-related health risk could be an important step toward setting healthy lifestyle goals and effective weight management."

In a survey of 2,461 diabetes patients, responses revealed that a number of had a less-than-accurate view of healthy body weight.

"Among respondents, 41 percent reported a 'healthiest' weight for their height that actually measured in the overweight body mass index (BMI) range, and 6 percent reported a 'healthiest' weight that was obese," said Dr. McTigue, who also is an internal medicine specialist associated with the University of Pittsburgh Diabetes Institute (UPDI). "One participant selected a BMI in the underweight range as 'healthiest.' ".

Among respondents whose BMI measurements classified them as obese, 66 percent identified overweight or obese dimensions as ideal for health. Among the overweight, some 41 percent chose a higher-than-optimal body weight as healthy. In contrast, only 4 percent of normal-weight patients overestimated healthy body weight.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source

March 13, 2006, 10:06 PM CT

A Woman With Amazing Memory

A Woman With Amazing  Memory
Scientists at UC Irvine have identified the first known case of a new memory syndrome - a woman with the ability to perfectly and instantly recall details of her past. Her case is the first of its kind to be recorded and chronicled in scientific literature and could open new avenues of research in the study of learning and memory.

Scientists Elizabeth Parker, Larry Cahill and James L. McGaugh spent more than five years studying the case of "AJ," a 40-year-old woman with incredibly strong memories of her personal past. Given a date, AJ can recall with astonishing accuracy what she was doing on that date and what day of the week it fell on. Because her case is the first one of its kind, the scientists have proposed a name for her syndrome - hyperthymestic syndrome, based on the Greek word thymesis for "remembering" and hyper, meaning "more than normal".

Their findings appear in the current issue of the journal Neurocase.

AJ first wrote McGaugh with the details of her extraordinary ability in 2000. She wrote that she "can take a date, between 1974 and today, and tell you what day it falls on, what I was doing that day and if anything of importance occurred on that day." She had been called "the human calendar" for years by her friends and acquaintances.........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source

March 12, 2006, 11:24 PM CT

Smokers' Children Carry Higher Levels of Harmful Bacteria

Smokers' Children Carry Higher Levels of Harmful Bacteria Image courtesy of
A number of of the medical risks associated with smoking, such as cancer, emphysema and heart attacks, are well-known to physicians and the general public. However, there is new evidence that more children exposed to tobacco smoke carry Streptococcus pneumoniae than children without smoking exposure, as per an article in the April 1 issue of Clinical Infectious Diseases, now available online.

S. pneumoniae often exists in the nose and throat, and children are more likely than adults to carry it. If the bacteria, also called pneumococci, grow out of control, infection can result in minor illnesses like ear infections or lead to more serious diseases like sinusitis, pneumonia and meningitis.

Scientists in Israel conducted a surveillance study of more than 200 young children and their mothers. They swabbed the noses and throats of the subjects to determine bacterial carriage rates, and then analyzed the data based on the children's and mothers' exposure to smoking. Seventy-six percent of the children exposed to tobacco smoke carried pneumococci, compared to 60 percent of those not exposed. Exposed children were also more likely than non-exposed children to carry pneumococcal serotypes responsible for most of the invasive S. pneumoniae disease. In the mothers, differences were also noted-32 percent of mothers who smoked carried S. pneumoniae, compared with 15 percent of mothers who were exposed to smoking and 12 percent of mothers not exposed to smoking.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source

March 9, 2006, 11:51 PM CT

children enter schools already overweight

children enter schools already overweight
A study reported in the current issue of The Journal of School Health finds that nearly one quarter of children, ages three to five years, were entering school in Chicago overweight. For the authors, this is an urgent problem reflecting the nutritional status and health influence of the children's home and community. The results signify a need for schools, in and outside the Chicago area, to develop protocol and procedures to support the physical and mental health of overweight and at risk of overweight children. "Cities that lack data on the weight status of their young children can use the data from Chicago..... to guide their planning until local data are available," the authors explain.

The height, weight, and age of more than 1,500 boys and girls from Chicago's public and Catholic schools were reviewed for the study. Twenty-four percent of the children were defined as "overweight," or having a sex- and age-specific body mass index (BMI) that was higher than ninety-five percent of their peers. This is more than twice the national prevalence of overweight children and three times that of the Midwest region. Sixteen percent were "at risk of overweight," with a BMI between the eighty-fifth and ninety-fourth percentile. "These results indicate an urgent problem facing Chicago children, families, health providers, and schools," the authors state. "Ongoing monitoring of child weight status is warranted."........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source

March 7, 2006, 8:33 PM CT

What Are The Qualities Of A Good Physician?

What Are The Qualities Of A Good Physician?
A study of Mayo Clinic patients has found seven behaviors define the 'ideal' doctor and supports an Institute of Medicine recommendation that quality medical care should include a patient-centered approach.

The Mayo Clinic-led study was designed to develop a comprehensive set of ideal doctor behaviors. Telephone interviews were conducted in 2001 and 2002 with 192 patients who were seen in 14 medical specialties of Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Ariz., and Rochester.

Reported in the recent issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings, the article was based on transcripts of patients detailing their best and worst experiences with a Mayo Clinic physician. From the transcripts, study authors identified seven behaviors that describe the ideal doctor -- confident, empathetic, humane, personal, forthright, respectful and thorough.

Conversely, patients who described a "worst physician" experience focused on traits reflecting opposites of desired doctor behaviors, particularly perceived insensitive or disrespectful behavior.

The study suggests that training new and practicing physicians about interpersonal skills could have far-reaching effects for patients. The quality of a patient's relationship with a doctor can affect not only a patient's emotional responses, but also behavioral and medical outcomes such as compliance and recovery.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source

March 4, 2006, 9:11 PM CT

Fighting Weight Gain a Different Way

Fighting Weight Gain a Different Way Volunteers in the Every Size approach were asked to find an enjoyable, appropriate form of physical activity, such as walking. The focus was on improving health, not losing weight.
Education and coaching centered on health-rather than on weight loss-may help chronic dieters improve their blood pressure, cholesterol and other health indicators.

That's as per a research studydocumented earlier in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association and newly summarized in an obesity-focused issue of Agricultural Research magazine. The magazine is published by the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief research agency.

ARS chemist Nancy Keim and physiologist Marta Van Loan, both with ARS' Western Human Nutrition Research Center in Davis, Calif., collaborated with University of California-Davis scientists for the study.

Seventy-eight obese women, aged 30 to 45, who volunteered for the investigation were assigned to either a health-centered team or a weight-loss-focused team. The teams met for specialized, 90-minute educational sessions weekly for the first six months of the year-long study, then met for six once-a-month sessions.

Both groups were instructed in nutrition basics. But women on the weight-loss track were taught how to monitor their weight and control their eating, while the other volunteers focused on how to build self-esteem and to recognize and follow the body's natural, internal cues to hunger and fullness.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink     

March 3, 2006, 7:20 AM CT

Confusable Drug Names

Confusable Drug Names
Was that Xanex or Xanax? Or maybe Zantac? If you're a health care professional you'd better know the difference--mistakes can be fatal.

An estimated 1.3 million people in the United States alone are injured each year from medicine errors, and the U.S. Federal Drug Administration (FDA) has been working to reduce the possibilities of these errors, such as a documented case in which a patient needed an injection of Narcan but received Norcuron and went into cardiac arrest.

A few years ago, the FDA turned to Project Performance Corporation (PPC), a U.S. software company, to ensure they don't approve the names of new drugs that may easily be confused with any one of the more than 4,400 drugs that have already been approved.

PPC looked at the problem and then, based on a tip from a professor at the University of Maryland, turned to Dr. Greg Kondrak, a professor in the University of Alberta Department of Computing Science.

"During my PhD research, I wrote a program called ALINE for identifying similar-sounding words in the world's languages. The program incorporates techniques developed in linguistics and bioinformatics," Kondrak said. "At the time some people criticized it because they felt it wouldn't ever have a practical application".

PPC analyzed Kondrak's program and felt it might help with their project. Kondrak gave them ALINE and then created a new program for them, BI SIM, which analyzes and compares the spelling of words.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         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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