August 31, 2008, 9:03 PM CT
Radiation Risks Among Heart Doctors
The IAEA is organizing a study to test the eyes of interventional cardiologists participating in a regional cardiology conference organized by SOLACI in Bogota, Colombia, in September. (Photo: Morguefile)
Patients are not the only ones at risk during cardiac procedures. Doctors performing heart surgery also face health risks, namely to their eyes.
The IAEA is helping to raise awareness of threats, through training in radiation protection correlation to medical uses of X-ray imaging systems.
The issue of radiation protection for medical personnel is especially acute in the case of lengthy angioplasty and other cardiac interventions performed under X-ray fluoroscopic guidance. The procedure can cause extensive radiation exposure to heart specialists that could lead to cataracts, alongside other longer term health risks. Fluoroscopy provides X-ray images of a patient that physicians can view on a display screen or monitor in real time.
The IAEA is helping the medical community to address this problem through a major international initiative aimed at training heart specialists and other medical professionals in radiation protection. This September in Latin America, the IAEA is organizing a study to test the eyes of interventional heart specialists participating in a regional medical conference. The Cardiology Conference is organized by the Latin American Society of Interventional Heart specialists (SOLACI) in Bogota, Colombia.
The study is being led by a team of experts, including Prof. Eliseo Vano, Radiology Department of the Complutense University of Madrid; Prof. Norman Kleiman, Columbia University, New York; local ophthalmologists from Bogota; and Mr. Raul Ramirez of the IAEA Department of Technical Cooperation. The initiative is part of an International Action Plan on the radiological protection of patients spearheaded by the IAEA.........
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August 31, 2008, 8:47 PM CT
Magnesium Sulfate Reduces Risk of Cerebral Palsy
Results of a 10-year study reported in the August 28 issue of the New England Journal (NEJM) observed that magnesium sulfate administered to women delivering before 32 weeks of gestation reduced the risk of cerebral palsy by 50 percent. The Beneficial Effects of Antenatal Magnesium Sulfate (BEAM) trial was conducted in 18 centers in the U.S., including Northwestern Memorial, and is the first prenatal intervention ever found to reduce the instance of cerebral palsy correlation to premature birth.
Magnesium sulfate is traditionally used in obstetrics to stop premature labor and prevent seizures in women with hypertension. The BEAM trial studied the link between magnesium sulfate and cerebral palsy by identifying 2,240 women who were likely to give birth more than two months premature. Half of the women intravenously received magnesium sulfate while the other half received a placebo. Children born to the women in the study were examined at two-years-old, and results observed that the children in the magnesium group were 50 percent less likely to develop cerebral palsy in comparison to children in the placebo group.
"This is a substantial breakthrough in maternal fetal medicine that could positively impact the health of thousands of babies," said Alan Peaceman, MD, chair of the Division of Maternal Fetal Medicine at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, and an investigator in the study. "After 10 years of studying the effects of magnesium sulfate, it has proven to be a successful method of reducing the outcome of cerebral palsy in premature births".........
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August 31, 2008, 8:40 PM CT
Professional guidelines for regarding earwax
Dr. Peter Roland, chairman of otolaryngology -- head and neck surgery, helped develop new national guidelines regarding the removal of wax from the ear.
Credit: UT Southwestern Medical Center
The age-old advice to routinely clean out earwax is discouraged under the first published guidelines from health care professionals about removing wax from the ear.
"Unfortunately, a number of people feel the need to manually remove earwax, called cerumen, which serves an important protective function for the ear," said the guidelines' lead author, Dr. Peter Roland, chairman of otolaryngology head and neck surgery at UT Southwestern Medical Center. "Cotton swabs and some other home remedies can push cerumen further into the canal, potentially foiling the natural removal process and instead cause build-up, known as impaction".
The guidelines recommend professionals use wax-dissolving agents, irrigation or ear syringing, or manually remove it with a suction device or other specialty instrument under supervised care to avoid damaging the ear or further impaction. The guidelines warn against using cotton-tipped swabs, and the home use of oral jet irrigators.
In addition, people with hearing aids should be checked for impaction during regular check-ups because cerumen can cause feedback, reduced sound intensity or damage the hearing aid, as per the guidelines.
The guidelines were created with input from family practitioners, pediatricians, internists, nurses, audiologists and emergency room doctors and have been endorsed by the American Academy of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery.........
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August 31, 2008, 8:37 PM CT
Door to new cancer, aging treatments
Scientists at The Wistar Institute have deciphered the structure of the active region of telomerase, an enzyme that plays a major role in the development of nearly all human cancers. The landmark achievement opens the door to the creation of new, broadly effective cancer drugs, as well as anti-aging therapies.
Scientists have attempted for more than a decade to find drugs that shut down telomerasewidely considered the No. 1 target for the development of new cancer therapysbut have been hampered in large part by a lack of knowledge of the enzyme's structure.
The findings, published online August 31 in Nature,
should help scientists in their efforts to design effective telomerase inhibitors, says Emmanuel Skordalakes, Ph.D., assistant professor in Wistar's Gene Expression and Regulation Program, who led the study.
"Telomerase is an ideal target for chemotherapy because it is active in almost all human tumors, but inactive in most normal cells," Skordalakes says. "That means a drug that deactivates telomerase would likely work against all cancers, with few side effects".
The study elucidates the active region of telomerase and provides the first full-length view of the telomerase molecule's critical protein component. It reveals surprising details, at the atomic level, of the enzyme's configuration and how it works to replicate the ends of chromosomesa process critical to both tumor development and the aging process.........
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August 31, 2008, 8:20 PM CT
Sex hormones link to heart risk
Men are more prone to and likely to die of - heart disease compared with women of a similar age and sex hormones are to blame, as per a new University of Leicester led study.
The findings of a study by Dr Maciej Tomaszewski, New Blood Lecturer in Cardiovascular Medicine in the Department of Cardiovascular Sciences at the University of Leicester, suggest that this "male disadvantage" may be correlation to the sex-specific effects of naturally occurring sex hormones.
The research by Dr Tomaszewski and colleagues, which has been published on line in the journal Atherosclerosis, involved 933 men aged, on average, 19 years, from the Young Men Cardiovascular Association study. The scientists looked at ways that the sex hormones - estradiol, estrone, testosterone and androstenedione - interacted with three major risk factors of heart disease (cholesterol, blood pressure and weight).
They observed that two of these sex hormones (estradiol and estrone, called together estrogens) are associated with increased levels of bad cholesterol (LDL-cholesterol) and low levels of good cholesterol (HDL-cholesterol) in men.
This suggests that certain sex hormones may be important risk factors of heart disease in men, even before they present symptoms of coronary artery disease or stroke.........
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August 31, 2008, 8:15 PM CT
'Superbug' breast infections controllable in nursing mothers
A number of nursing mothers who have been hospitalized for breast abscesses are afflicted with the "superbug" methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus
, or MRSA, but as per new research by UT Southwestern Medical Center physicians, conservative therapy can deal with the problem.
The study focused on hospitalized women with mastitis, and showed that MRSA was much more likely to be found in those who had both mastitis (an inflammation of the milk glands) and abscesses (pockets of infection).
"The take-home message is that a patient with mastitis does not necessarily need an antibiotic against MRSA," said Dr. George Wendel, professor of obstetrics and gynecology and senior author of the study, which appears in the recent issue of the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology.
"She will improve with a less specific antibiotic as long as she also empties her breasts, either through feeding or pumping, and if there's an abscess, gets it treated".
The study also showed that if a nursing mother has an abscess, she does not immediately need antibiotics against MRSA, but can be switched to them if tests reveal she has MRSA.
The study was designed to determine which antibiotic therapy is best for severe cases of mastitis, which can be caused by clogged milk ducts with or without infection, and breast abscesses, which are caused by bacterial infections, generally by aureus. There are a number of strains of staph, one of which is MRSA.........
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August 27, 2008, 9:11 PM CT
Health risk behaviors and PSA awareness
As per a research studyconducted at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, health risk behaviors such as smoking and obesity are linked to lower awareness of the Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA), which could lead to a lower likelihood of undergoing actual prostate cancer screening. Eventhough prior studies have explored predictors of PSA test awareness, this is the first research to focus on health risk behaviors, such as smoking, physical inactivity, obesity, and excessive alcohol consumption. The study findings were published in the recent issue of The Journal of Urology
Awareness of PSA testing is considered an important cognitive precursor of prostate cancer screening and it was found to contribute to differences in prostate cancer screening rates. Earlier studies have suggested that persons who seek out cancer information are more likely to acquire knowledge, demonstrate healthy behaviors, and undergo cancer screening. As per the Mailman School study, a quarter of the men older than 50 years without a history of prostate cancer who were among the population of 7,000 men studied, remain unaware of the PSA test.
"Our primary findings suggested that smoking, physical inactivity and obesity are inversely linked to awareness of the PSA test. These risk behaviors are linked with higher prostate cancer morbidity and mortality," said Firas S. Ahmed, MD, MPH, Mailman School of Public Health, and first author. This finding may be due to a general lack of concern about health maintenance or less interactions with health care providers by smokers, as per Dr. Ahmed.........
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August 27, 2008, 6:57 PM CT
Factors may prevent postpartum smoking relapse
Eventhough a number of women quit smoking during pregnancy to protect their unborn children from the effects of cigarettes, half of them resume the habit within a few months of giving birth.
By shedding light on the factors that enable the other half to put down that cigarette for good, a study by scientists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill could lead to programs designed to help women quit and stay quit.
As per the study, women with a live-in partner who shared some of the burden of child-rearing were more likely to remain smoke free, while women who were single mothers or who lacked the social and financial resources to deal with being a new parent were more likely to relapse.
"In the future we can look at these and other factors in women who quit smoking during pregnancy to assess who is at low or high risk of relapse," said Carol E. Ripley-Moffitt, MDiv, research associate in UNC's department of family medicine and the study's lead author. "We can then offer more intensive interventions for those at higher risk to address the physical, behavioral and social issues correlation to relapse".
Smoking during pregnancy increases the risks of pregnancy complications, decreased birth weight and SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), Ripley-Moffitt said. She noted that the past 15 years have seen a steady decrease in the number of women who smoke while pregnant, in part because of an overall decline in smoking rates among all women of childbearing age and in part because of interventions targeting women during the prenatal period.........
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August 25, 2008, 10:33 PM CT
Alcohol consumption can cause too much cell death
The initial signs of fetal alcohol syndrome are slight but classic: facial malformations such as a flat and high upper lip, small eye openings and a short nose.
Scientists want to know if those facial clues can help them figure out how much alcohol it takes during what point in development to cause these and other lifelong problems.
They have strong evidence that just a few glasses of wine over an hour in the first few weeks of fetal life, typically before a woman knows she's pregnant, increases cell death. Too few cells are then left to properly form the face and possibly the brain and spinal cord.
"It's well known that when you drink, you get a buzz. But a couple of hours later, that initial impact, at least, is gone," says Dr. Erhard Bieberich, biochemist in the Medical College of Georgia Schools of Medicine and Graduate Studies. "But, your fetus may have experienced irreversible damage".
He thinks the damage results from the death of neural crest cells, versatile cells that travel a lot during development, ultimately helping form bone, cartilage, connective tissue, the heart and more. These cells are in the process of developing at the same time as neural tube cells that form the brain and spinal cord. Consequently, the telltale facial abnormalities in a newborn also may foretell problems with learning, memory, vision, hearing and more.........
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August 21, 2008, 8:30 PM CT
How addiction develops
Permanent drug seeking and relapse after renewed drug administration are typical behavioral patterns of addiction. Molecular changes at the connection points in the brain's reward center are directly responsible for this. This finding was published by a research team from the Institute of Mental Health (ZI) in Mannheim, the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) in Heidelberg and the University of Geneva, Switzerland, in the latest issue of Neuron
The results provide scientists with new approaches in the medical therapy of drug addiction.
Addiction leaves detectable traces in the brain: In particular regions of the central nervous system, which produce the messenger substance dopamine, the drug cocaine causes molecular restructuring processes at the synapses, the points of correlation between two neurons. As a reaction to the drug, protein subunits are exchanged in specific receptor complexes. As a result, the modified synapse becomes able to transmit nervous signals with enhanced strength a phenomenon that has been termed 'drug-induced synaptic plasticity'. Scientists have suspected for a number of years that drug-induced synaptic plasticity plays a crucial role in addiction development. However, this hypothesis has still not been proven experimentally.
Using genetic engineering, scientists headed by Professor Dr. Gnther Schtz at the German Cancer Research Center (Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum, DKFZ) have now been able to selectively switch off those protein components in dopamine-producing neurons that are integrated into the receptor complexes under the influence of cocaine. Jointly with the team of Professor Dr. Rainer Spanagel at the Central Institute of Mental Health (Zentralinstitut fr Seelische Gesundheit, ZI) in Mannheim and the research group of Professor Dr. Christian Lscher at Geneva University, the Heidelberg scientists studied the changes in physiology and behavior of the genetically modified animals.........
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