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September 8, 2008, 6:21 PM CT

Physical activity can blunt effect of obesity-related gene

Physical activity can blunt effect of obesity-related gene
High levels of physical activity can help to counteract a gene that normally causes people to gain weight, as per a new study by scientists at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. They analyzed gene variants and activity levels of the Old Order Amish in Lancaster County, Pa., and observed that the obesity-related FTO gene had no effect on individuals who were the most physically active.

"Our results strongly suggest that the increased risk of obesity due to genetic susceptibility can be blunted through physical activity," the authors conclude. "These findings emphasize the important role of physical activity in public health efforts to combat obesity, especially in genetically susceptible individuals." The results of the study are being reported in the Sept. 8, 2008, issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine

Soren Snitker, M.D., Ph.D., the senior author and an assistant professor of medicine and pediatrics at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, says, "Our study shows that a high level of physical activity can 'level the playing field,' equalizing the risk of obesity between those who have copies of the FTO gene variant and those who don't".

The FTO gene recently has been associated with obesity and increased body mass index, or BMI, in several large-scale studies. More than half of all people of European descent have one or two copies of a variation of this gene, British researchers reported last year. Individuals with two.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


September 8, 2008, 5:26 PM CT

Explaining winter blues

Explaining winter blues
Why do a number of Canadians get the winter blues? In the first study of its kind in the living human brain, Dr. Jeffrey Meyer and his colleagues at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) have discovered greater levels of serotonin transporter in the brain in winter than in summer. These findings have important implications for understanding seasonal mood change in healthy people, vulnerability to seasonal affective disorders and the relationship of light exposure to mood.

CAMH's scientific team discovered that the serotonin transporter levels were significantly higher in all investigated brain regions in individuals studied in fall/winter, in comparison to those studied in spring/summer in a study of healthy subjects. Serotonin transporters remove serotonin so this discovery argues that there is more serotonin removal in the fall/winter as in comparison to spring/summer. Also, the higher serotonin transporter binding values occurred at times when there is less sunlight. This is the first time researchers have found differences in serotonin transporter levels in the brain in fall/winter versus spring/summer.

Serotonin is involved in regulating physical functions such as eating and energy balance, and emotional functions like mood and energy levels. These phenomena vary across the seasons and the molecular background for why this happens was previously unknown. For this study, Dr. Jeffrey Meyer and his team used a world-leading positron emission tomography (PET) technology (originally created at CAMH by Dr. Alan Wilson) to detect these seasonal variations in serotonin transporter binding (the process that removes serotonin) in the living human brain and correlations between serotonin binding and duration of daily sunshine.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


September 4, 2008, 3:59 PM CT

More off-premise alcohol outlets can lead to more injuries

More off-premise alcohol outlets can lead to more injuries
Childhood injuries constitute a serious issue in the United States. In 2001, there were 12,249 deaths among children ages one to 14: injuries were the leading cause, accounting for 33.2 percent of all deaths for children ages one to four, and 39.4 percent of all deaths for children ages five to 14. A new study has observed that numerous off-premise alcohol outlets in neighborhoods can reduce overall guardianship of children's activities, leading to increased injuries.

Results would be reported in the recent issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research and are currently available at Early View.

"Neighborhood areas with high levels of social disorganization can make the children who live there more vulnerable to injury in many ways," explained Bridget Freisthler, assistant professor in the department of social welfare at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and affiliated research scientist at the Prevention Research Center, Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation (PRC/PIRE). This research was a joint project between UCLA and PRC/PIRE.

"Impoverished and disorganized neighborhoods may present more physically dangerous environments," said Freisthler. "Limited social capital restricts their ability to respond to social problems that might endanger children's health and well being. Reduced levels of social control may facilitate risky behaviors, such as playing in dangerous streets or vacant buildings. And, areas that have fewer adults available to monitor and supervise children's activities may further exacerbate problem behaviors".........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


September 3, 2008, 7:06 PM CT

Website review: InsuranceSpecialists.com

Website review: InsuranceSpecialists.com
Whether you're a first-time visitor to MedicineWorld.org, or a frequent reader, you know that the Internet is the best source of quick, easy information about the state of modern medicine, as well as tips to help you prevent common illnesses and improve your general health. It should come as no surprise, then, that the 'net is also the best place to go when you're shopping for health insurance. There are many insurance websites out there, but one we like is InsuranceSpecialists.com.

At InsuranceSpecialists.com you'll find basic information about home and auto insurance, but you'll also find that health insurance is given equal weight. It's got its own page on the main menu, and offers a lot of information, cleanly and clearly presented. It opens with a rundown of HMO vs. PPO, for those who get confused by all the abbreviations, and also includes an explanation of indemnity plans – and that's just on page one. Deeper into the section, you'll find articles that focus on women and healthcare, including important points to consider, like whether you have direct access to an ob/gyn, or if annual mammograms are covered as part of your policy. Since Florida is home to a significant number of older adults, there's also a page devoted to the specific offerings in the Sunshine State, and these are just two of the topics listed in the sidebar.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more


September 3, 2008, 7:01 PM CT

College freshmen: pain killers and stimulants less risky than cocaine

College freshmen: pain killers and stimulants less risky than cocaine
First year college students think that occasional nonmedical use of prescription pain killers and stimulants is less risky than cocaine, but more risky than marijuana or consuming five or more alcoholic beverages every weekend, as per a new study reported in the recent issue of Prevention Science, the peer-evaluated journal of the Society for Prevention Research.

This is the first study to describe college students' perceptions about the potential harmfulness of nonmedical use of prescription pain killers and stimulants. Prior studies with high school students show that beliefs about harmfulness of illicit drugs are correlation to drug use. Nonmedical use of pain killers and stimulants can be addictive and can cause serious problems requiring emergency room therapy.

The study by Amelia Arria, Ph.D., of the Center for Substance Abuse Research at the University of Maryland, also observed that college students who can be described as "sensation-seekers" are more likely to use prescription drugs nonmedically; irrespective of how harmful they may perceive the drugs to be. Arria said "sensation-seekers are students who like novel experiences, who want to try something new and a little dangerous, like jumping off the highest diving board or placing themselves in high-risk situations. They are much more likely to use pain killers nonmedically even if they perceive the drugs to be quite harmful".........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


September 3, 2008, 6:44 PM CT

Substance found in fruits and vegetables reduces likelihood of the flu

Substance found in fruits and vegetables reduces likelihood of the flu
Mice given quercetin, a naturally occurring substance found in fruits and vegetables, were less likely to contract the flu, as per a research studypublished by The American Physiological Society. The study also observed that stressful exercise increased the susceptibility of mice to the flu, but quercetin canceled out that negative effect.

Quercetin, a close chemical relative of resveratrol, is present in a variety of fruits and vegetables, including red onions, grapes, blueberries, tea, broccoli and red wine. It has been shown to have anti-viral properties in cell culture experiments and some animal studies, but none of these studies has looked specifically at the flu.

The study, "Quercetin reduces susceptibility to influenza infection following stressful exercise," was carried out by J. Mark Davis, E.A. Murphy, J.L. McClellan, and M.D. Carmichael, of the University of South Carolina and J.D. Gangemi of Clemson University. The study appears in the current issue of the American Journal of Physiology-Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology.

The study was conducted using mice, but if quercetin provides a similar benefit for humans, it could help endurance athletes, soldiers and others undergoing difficult training regimens, as well as people under psychological stress, as per Davis.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


September 3, 2008, 6:42 PM CT

Higher rates of cervical cancer amongst immigrants

Higher rates of cervical cancer amongst immigrants
Gynaecological screening tests for cervical cancer have been available to all women in Sweden for almost four decades. Despite this, a number of immigrant women have a higher risk of developing the disease than Swedish-born women, as per a new study from Karolinska Institutet.

This is especially the case for women from other Nordic countries and Central America, the differences being associated with, amongst other things, variation in the occurence rate of the Human Pappiloma Virus (HPV) around the world. HPV is a significant risk factor for cervical cancer.

"But there are other risk factors too, such as smoking, sexual habits and not taking screening tests, which make it interesting to compare cervical cancer rates between different groups of immigrant women in Sweden and native Swedes," says Professor Pär Sparen, who has led the study at the Department of Medical epidemiology and Biostatistics.

The study included more than 750,000 resident immigrant women from different countries, all of whom are registered on Karolinska Institutets national database of womens health. During the period under study (1968 to 2004) there were 1,991 cases of cervical cancer in this group. Compared with Swedish-born women in general, this represents a slightly higher risk of developing the disease (10 per cent). Also, the incidence proportion of cervical cancer amongst women who had immigrated to Sweden was lower than amongst women in their respective countries.........

Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source


September 3, 2008, 6:38 PM CT

NTP finalizes report on Bisphenol A

NTP finalizes report on Bisphenol A
Current human exposure to bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical used in a number of polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins, is of "some concern" for effects on development of the prostate gland and brain and for behavioral effects in fetuses, infants and children, as per a final report released recently by the National Toxicology Program (NTP).

The report provides the NTP's current opinion on BPA's potential to cause harm to human reproduction or development. The conclusions are based primarily on a broad body of research involving numerous laboratory animal studies. The report is part of a lengthy review of the scientific literature on BPA and takes into consideration public and peer review comments received on an earlier draft report. The final report is available at http://cerhr.niehs.nih.gov/chemicals/bisphenol/bisphenol.pdf.

"There remains considerable uncertainty whether the changes seen in the animal studies are directly applicable to humans, and whether they would result in clear adverse health effects," said NTP Associate Director John Bucher, Ph.D. "But we have concluded that the possibility that BPA may affect human development cannot be dismissed."

About the impact that these findings may have on consumers, CERHR Director Michael Shelby, Ph.D., said, "Unfortunately, it is very difficult to offer advice on how the public should respond to this information. More research is clearly needed to understand exactly how these findings relate to human health and development, but at this point we can't dismiss the possibility that the effects we're seeing in animals may occur in humans. If parents are concerned, they can make the personal choice to reduce exposures of their infants and children to BPA".........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


September 2, 2008, 8:08 PM CT

Age-related memory loss tied to slip in filtering information quickly

Age-related memory loss tied to slip in filtering information quickly
Researchers have identified a way in which the brain's ability to process information diminishes with age, and shown that this break down contributes to the decreased ability to form memories that is linked to normal aging.

The finding, published in the current online early edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, fuels the researchers' efforts, they say, to explore strategies for enhancing brain function in the healthy aging population, through mental training exercises and pharmaceutical therapys.

This research, which was conducted by University of California, San Francisco and University of California, Berkeley scientists, builds on the team's seminal 2005 discovery ("Nature Neuroscience," October 2005) that the brain's capacity to ignore irrelevant information diminishes with age.

The capacity to ignore irrelevant information -- such as most of the faces in a crowded room when one is looking for a long-lost friend and to enhance pertinent information -- such as the face of a new acquaintance met during the search for the old friend is key to memory formation. This process is known as top-down modulation.

In the 2005 study, the team recorded brain activity in younger and elderly adults given a visual memory test in which they were shown sequences of images (sets of two faces and two scenes), told to remember a specific category, and then asked to identify an image from that category nine seconds later. The scientists, using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), determined that the neurons of the older participants (ages 60 to 72) responded excessively to the images they should have ignored, in comparison to the younger adults (ages 19 to 33). This attention to the distracting information directly correlated with how well the participants did on the memory test.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


August 31, 2008, 9:07 PM CT

Chewing gum may help reduce stress

Chewing gum may help reduce stress
WHAT: "An investigation into the effects of gum chewing on mood and cortisol levels during psychological stress," to be presented at the 2008 10th International Congress of Behavioral Medicine, observed that chewing gum helped relieve anxiety, improve alertness and reduce stress among individuals in a laboratory setting.* The study examined whether chewing gum is capable of reducing induced anxiety and/or acute psychological stress while participants performed a battery of 'multi-tasking' activities. The use of chewing gum was linked to higher alertness, reduced anxiety and stress, and improvement in overall performance on multi-tasking activities.

WHO: Andrew Scholey, Ph.D., professor of Behavioral and Brain Sciences, Swinburne University in Melbourne, Australia led the research study and can discuss the effect of chewing gum on stress relief and focus and concentration.

Gilbert Leveille, Ph.D., executive director, Wrigley Science Institute, will also be available to discuss research on the benefits of chewing gum correlation to stress relief and alertness and concentration in addition to other areas including weight management and oral health.

WHEN: Study to be presented orally on Saturday, August 30 at Rissho University in Tokyo, Japan at the 10th International Congress of Behavioral Medicine.........

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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