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August 24, 2007, 5:08 AM CT

Bipolar disorder relapses halved

Bipolar disorder relapses halved
Melbourne mental health scientists have succeeded in halving the number of relapses experienced by people with bipolar disorder which strikes two in 100 Australians, accounts for 12 per cent of suicides each year and costs the country at least $1.5 billion annually(1).

With funding from the MBF Foundation and Beyond Blue, a team led by the Mental Health Research Institute of Victoria has developed an innovative structured group program to help people with bipolar disorder to better manage their condition.

The 12-session program, led by trained mental health clinicians, enables people battling the disorder to effectively monitor their mood, assess personal triggers and early warning signs of oncoming illness and take the necessary steps to stay well.

In a controlled randomised study of 84 people diagnosed with bipolar disorder, those on the special intervention program had half the number of relapses after 12 months as the control group which continued with normal therapy. Even with modern drug therapies that act as mood stabilisers, relapse rates for people with bipolar disorder are as high as 40 per cent in the first year and almost 75 per cent over five years.

MBF general manager health product, Michael Carafillis, said the new program provides a much-needed bridge between the mental health services that treat people when they are acutely ill and the GPs and private psychiatry experts who provide ongoing care.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


August 23, 2007, 10:22 PM CT

Techniques For Better Learning

Techniques For Better Learning
People have incredible amounts to learn throughout their lives, whether it be preparing for a test in middle school or training for a new job late in life. Given that time is often at a premium, being able to efficiently learn new information is important.

One way people can learn efficiently is to accurately evaluate their learning and decide how to proceed. For example, if you were studying for a final exam, you could most efficiently use your time if you were able to accurately judge between those concepts that you have learned and understood well versus those that you have not learned well. In doing so, you can invest your time on the latter.

This ability is known as metacomprehension, and psychological research has repeatedly demonstrated that people are not very accurate at judging how well they have learned complex materials. As a result, scientists have been searching for techniques to improve the accuracy of peoples judgments of their text learning, and most recently, some important discoveries have been made.

In an article reported in the recent issue of Current Directions in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, Kent State scientists John Dunlosky and Amanda Lipko examined techniques that can improve peoples comprehension of texts.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


August 21, 2007, 6:30 PM CT

Sewage tells tales about community-wide drug abuse

Sewage tells tales about community-wide drug abuse
Image courtesy of waterextraction.com
Public health officials may soon be able to flush out more accurate estimates on illegal drug use in communities across the country thanks to screening test described here today at the 234th national meeting of the American Chemical Society, the worlds largest scientific society. The test doesnt screen people, it seeks out evidence of illicit drug abuse in drug residues and metabolites excreted in urine and flushed toward municipal sewage treatment plants.

The approach could provide a fast, reliable and inexpensive way to track trends in drug use at the local, regional or state levels while preserving the anonymity of individuals, says lead researcher Jennifer Field, Ph.D., an environmental chemist at Oregon State University who works with colleagues at Oregon State University and at the University of Washington.

Past estimates of illicit drug abuse in a community were based largely on surveys in which children and adults were asked about their use of illegal drugs. Researchers knew that some were untruthful, with individuals reluctant to admit breaking the law.

Preliminary tests conducted in 10 U.S. cities show the method can simultaneously quantify methamphetamine and metabolites of cocaine and marijuana and legal drugs such as methadone, oxycodone, and ephedrine, according to Aurea Chiaia, a graduate student who is working to refine the process and described details at the ACS meeting.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


August 21, 2007, 5:18 PM CT

Newborn In-hospital Weight Loss

Newborn In-hospital Weight Loss
Healthy, full-term newborn babies tend to lose weight during the first few days after their birth. A groundbreaking new study reported in the latest issue of the Journal of Human Lactation explores the reasons why certain newborns lose more (or less) than others and what conclusions can be drawn from the research.

The purpose of the study, published by SAGE in the Journal of Human Lactation, for the International Lactation Consultant Association, was to determine the factors linked to in-hospital weight loss of healthy, full-term newborns, including birth and infant-feeding factors as well as maternal and newborn demographics.

The study found a substantial difference in weight loss between exclusively breastfed and completely formula-fed newborns, which lost less. That disparity led the scientists to conjecture that formula-fed infants may be at risk of early overfeeding. Supplemented breastfed infants had similar weight loss patterns to the exclusively breastfed newborns.

Degree of weight loss is critical in the decision to supplement breastfed infants with formula, write the studys authors, Patricia J. Martens, IBCLC, PhD, and Linda Romphf, IBCLC. However, given the overhydration of newborns, the early loss of meconium, and small fluid intake in the first few days, loss of 5-7% of birth weight is considered physiologically appropriate.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


August 20, 2007, 9:42 PM CT

Women lose weight before developing dementia

Women lose weight before developing dementia
Women who have dementia start losing weight at least 10 years before the disease is diagnosed, as per a research studyreported in the August 21, 2007, issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

The scientists examined the records of 481 people with dementia and compared them to 481 people of the same age and gender who did not have dementia. The average weight was the same for those in the two groups from 21 to 30 years before the year the disease was diagnosed. But the women who would later develop dementia started losing weight up to 20 years before the disease was diagnosed. On average, those with dementia weighed 12 pounds less than those without the disease the year the disease was diagnosed.

One explanation for the weight loss is that, in the very early stages of dementia, people develop apathy, a loss of initiative, and also losses in the sense of smell, said study author David Knopman, MD, of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, and member of the American Academy of Neurology. When you cant smell your food, it wont have much taste, and you might be less inclined to eat it. And, apathy and loss of initiative may make women less likely to prepare nutritious meals and more likely to skip meals altogether.

Unlike women, men in this study who later developed dementia did not lose weight in the years before diagnosis. Knopman said the difference could be due to hormones, but a social reason seems just as likely.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


August 20, 2007, 9:34 PM CT

High alcohol consumption increases stroke risk

High alcohol consumption increases stroke risk
In a study likely applicable to men of other ethnicities, Tulane University scientists observed that heavy drinking (more than 21 drinks per week) may increase the risk of stroke in Chinese men. The results of the study are reported in the latest issue of Annals of Neurology.

Scientists led by Lydia Bazzano of Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine recently examined the relationship between alcohol consumption and stroke in a large nationally representative sample of Chinese men. In China, stroke is the leading cause of death for men, killing more than 20 percent of the male population. It is also the top reason for long-term disability. Alcohol use in China has increased in recent years alongside the countrys economic development.

The research team conducted a study of 64,338 men who participated in the 1991 China National High blood pressure Survey. At the start of the survey all of the men were over 40 years old and free of stroke. They provided information about their demographic characteristics, medical history and lifestyle risk factors, including alcohol consumption.

Between 1999 and 2000 the scientists followed up with the participants, determined all incidents of stroke and assessed any relationship between alcohol consumption and stroke.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


August 20, 2007, 9:33 PM CT

Genetic predisposition for childhood asthma

Genetic predisposition for childhood asthma
Children who carry variations in specific genes that metabolize vehicle emissions are more susceptible to developing asthma, especially if they live near major roadways, a study led by scientists at the University of Southern California (USC) suggests.

Scientists observed that children who carried variations in two genes and lived within 75 meters of a major road were up to nine times more likely to develop asthma than children who lived further away, says Muhammad T. Salam, Ph.D. candidate at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, and the studys lead author. The study will appear in the journal Thorax, and is now available online.

This is one of the first studies to report that children with certain genetic backgrounds are even more susceptible to asthma than if they lived near major roads and did not carry the variations, Salam says. We are working to understand how traffic-related exposures may interact with these genes, leading to asthma development.

Asthma is the most common chronic disease in children, and prior studies have shown that traffic-related pollution near the home increases asthma risk and reduces lung growth, as per USC experts.

Scientists drew upon data from the Childrens Health Study (CHS), a longitudinal study of respiratory health among school-age children in 12 Southern California communities. They compared associations between number of genetic variants and exposure to toxins among more than 3,000 study participants.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


August 20, 2007, 9:32 PM CT

Emergency treatment may be only skin deep

Emergency treatment may be only skin deep
Doctors' unconscious racial biases may influence their decisions to treat patients and explain racial and ethnic disparities in the use of certain medical procedures, as per Alexander Green from Harvard Medical School and his team. Their study1, published in Springer's Journal of General Internal Medicine, is the first evidence of how unconscious race bias among doctors affects their clinical decisions.

Green and his colleagues tested whether doctors showed unconscious race bias and whether the scale of such bias predicted recommendations for medical intervention to dissolve clots (thrombolysis) for black and white patients with acute coronary conditions. A total of 220 doctors from four academic medical centres in Atlanta and Boston were surveyed.

The scientists used a web-based survey tool that randomly assigned doctors to look at a picture of a black or white patient presenting to the emergency room department, alongside a brief clinical history and symptoms suggestive of a myocardial infarction. The doctors were then asked whether the chest pain was the result of coronary artery disease, whether they would give the patient thrombolysis and the strength of the recommendation on a scale of '1 - definitely' to '5 - definitely not'. The scientists used computer-based Implicit Association Tests (IATs) to measure unconscious bias. The software asked doctors whether they preferred white or black Americans and also about their beliefs concerning patients' cooperativeness in general and with regard to medical procedures in particular. Doctors' conscious racial bias was also assessed by questionnaire.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


August 20, 2007, 6:59 AM CT

How Air Force women are handling the stress

How Air Force women are handling the stress
About 20 percent of Air Force women deployed during the Iraq war report that they are experiencing at least one major symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), as per a University of Michigan survey of 1,114 servicewomen.

The scientists also assessed the prevalence of family-work conflicts among the military women surveyed, and analyzed the impact of these conflicts on mental health and job functioning.

"We were surprised to find that work-family conflict is an independent and significant predictor of PTSD, above and beyond combat exposure," said Penny Pierce, a colonel in the Air Force Reserve Program, who presented preliminary findings from the survey at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association. "This finding is important because there are things we can do to help minimize work-family stress and the toll it is taking on women in the military".

Conducted by the U-M Institute for Social Research (ISR) and funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Defense through the TriService Nursing Research Program, the survey is part of a research study that's ongoing headed by Pierce, an associate professor in the U-M School of Nursing and a faculty associate at the ISR and ISR research professor Amiram Vinokur.

"Since the Gulf War, the role of women in combat has been a subject of heated debate," said Pierce. "This study is the latest attempt to assess the impact of deployment-related stressors, including family separation, on military women, who now comprise 13 percent of our nation's armed forces".........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


August 16, 2007, 9:40 PM CT

Cannabis May Alleviate Allergic Skin Disease

Cannabis May Alleviate Allergic Skin Disease
Administering a substance found in the cannabis plant can help the bodys natural protective system alleviate an allergic skin disease (allergic contact dermatitis), an international group of scientists from Gera number of, Israel, Italy, Switzerland and the U.S. has found.

Allergic contact dermatitis is caused by reaction to something that directly contacts the skin. A number of different substances (allergens) can cause allergic contact dermatitis. Commonly these substances cause no trouble for most people, but if the skin is sensitive or allergic to the substance, any exposure will produce a rash, which may become very severe. Allergic contact dermatitis affects about 5 percent of men and 11percent of women in industrialized countries and is one of the leading causes for occupational diseases.

An article describing the work of the international research group, led by Dr Andreas Zimmer from the University of Bonn, was published recently in the journal Science. The article deals with alleviating allergic skin disease through what is called the endocannabinoid system. Among the members of the group is Prof. Raphael Mechoulam of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem School of Pharmacy.

In earlier work, Prof.Mechoulams research group at the Hebrew University isolated two naturally occurring cannabinoid (cannabis-like) components one from the brain, named anandamide (from the word ananda, meaning supreme joy in Sanskrit), and another from the intestines named 2-AG. These two cannabinoids, plus their receptors and various enzymes that are involved in the cannnabinoids syntheses and degradations, comprise the endocannabinoid system. These materials have similar effects to those of the active components in hashish and marijuana, produced from the cannabis plant.........

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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