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December 1, 2008, 5:55 PM CT

Exercise helps prevent age-related brain changes

Exercise helps prevent age-related brain changes
Elderly adults who exercise regularly show increased cerebral blood flow and a greater number of small blood vessels in the brain, as per findings presented today at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).

The study, conducted at the University of North Carolina (UNC) Chapel Hill, is the first to compare brain scans of elderly adults who exercise to brain scans of those who do not.

"Our results show that exercise may reduce age-related changes in brain vasculature and blood flow," said presenter Feraz Rahman, M.S., currently a medical student at Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia. "Other studies have shown that exercise prevents cognitive decline in the elderly. The blood vessel and flow differences may be one reason".

The scientists recruited 12 healthy adults, age 60 to 76. Six of the adults had participated in aerobic exercise for three or more hours per week over the last 10 years, and six exercised less than one hour per week. All of the volunteers underwent MRI to determine cerebral blood flow and MR angiography to depict blood vessels in the brain.

Using a novel method of three-dimensional (3-D) computer reconstruction developed in their lab, the scientists were able to make 3-D models of the blood vessels and examine them for shape and size. They then compared the blood vessel characteristics and how they correlation to blood flow in both the active and inactive groups.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


December 1, 2008, 5:54 PM CT

Curbing hormones' effects in obese patients

Curbing hormones' effects in obese patients
Once-promising drugs that were abandoned in the fight against breast cancer still could be effective in obese patients, new research suggests.

In laboratory tests, hormones produced by fat cells stimulate breast cancer cells to migrate and invade surrounding tissues, researchers at Emory University School of Medicine found. A class of drugs called epithelial growth factor receptor (EGFR) inhibitors could block the stimulatory effects of the hormones.

The researchers' results are published online and are scheduled for publication in the recent issue of the journal Cancer Research

"This group of compounds was basically written off as far as breast cancer goes," says senior author Dipali Sharma, PhD, assistant professor of oncology/hematology at Emory University School of Medicine and Emory Winship Cancer Institute.

Sharma and her colleagues have been studying the effects of leptin, a hormone produced by adipocytes (fat cells), on breast cancer cells. One of leptin's functions is to send "had enough" signals to the hypothalamus, part of the brain that controls appetite, and it also regulates bone formation, reproductive functions and the growth of blood vessels.

Most obese people appear to produce an abundance of leptin but for them, leptin"s appetite-controlling effects are muted in ways that are poorly understood. In addition to leptin, obese people also have high levels of insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1), which is produced primarily by the liver.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


December 1, 2008, 5:50 PM CT

Bariatric surgery may resolve liver disease

Bariatric surgery may resolve liver disease
Obesity is a growing epidemic in the U.S. with a significant increase in prevalence from 15 percent to 32.9 percent from 1980 to 2004. Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is an emerging problem correlation to the obesity epidemic, becoming one of the most common causes of liver disease in the nation.

Bariatric surgery has become a popular and effective method for rapid and permanent significant weight loss in morbidly obese individuals. A recent study reports bariatric surgery results in improvement of histopathological features of NAFLD. Complications of NAFLD, including steatosis, steatohepatitis and fibrosis appeared to improve or completely resolve in a majority of patients after bariatric surgery-induced weight loss, as per results of a study published in Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, an official journal of the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) Institute.

"Even today, the effect of weight loss after bariatric surgery on the liver, especially NAFLD, remains unclear. There is a lack of well-defined trials exploring this relationship," said Gagan K. Sood, MD, of the University of Texas Medical Branch and lead author of the study. "Our team assessed and quantified this effect and found encouraging news: a majority of patients experience complete resolution of NAFLD after bariatric surgery, and the risk of progression of inflammatory changes and fibrosis seems to be minimal".........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


November 25, 2008, 9:47 PM CT

Link between obesity and bone mineral density

Link between obesity and bone mineral density
Scientists at the University of Toronto, Faculty of Medicine, Toronto, Canada, have discovered that adiponectin, a protein secreted from adipocytes, is a metabolic link that can explain, in part, the known positive relationship between obesity and both bone mineral density and reduced susceptibility to fractures. This study appears in the recent issue of Experimental Biology and Medicine Circulating adiponectin levels are significantly lower in obese humans and rodent models than in lean controls. It is known that excess body weight and elevated body mass index are strongly correlated with high bone mineral density, and that weight loss is linked to loss of bone mineral density and increased risk of fractures. However, the mechanism for this relationship is unclear.

The research team, Dr. Michael C. Archer, Earle W. McHenry Professor and Chair, Dr. Wendy E. Ward, Associate Professor, Dr. Kafi Ealey, Postdoctoral Fellow and predoctoral student Jovana Kaludjerovic, in the Department of Nutritional Sciences, investigated whether adiponectin modulates bone development using transgenic mice that overexpress this protein. These mice were initially developed by Dr. P. Scherer's research group at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, N.Y. Bone mineral density and biomechanical strength properties, surrogate measures of fracture risk at multiple skeletal sites, were the outcomes used to assess bone development. Female mice overexpressing adiponectin had weaker vertebra at 8 weeks of age than control mice and this delay in bone development persisted through to the end of the study period, representing early adulthood. The weaker vertebra model compression fractures of the lumbar spine in humans, among the most common type of fragility fracture linked to low bone mass and osteoporosis. The strength of the femur neck, representing the hip, was also weaker in both females and males overexpressing adiponectin. Serum adiponectin levels were inversely correlated with femur bone mineral content, further emphasizing that a high level of adiponectin impedes bone development at not only the lumbar spine but also the hip. Whether or not the delay in bone development resolves in later life or is sustained and leads to an increased risk of fragility fracture, especially during aging when bone loss rapidly occurs due to declining levels of sex steroids, requires further investigation.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


November 24, 2008, 9:53 PM CT

Why women should eat less and move more

Why women should eat less and move more
Weight and appetite experts from around the world met at a conference in Bangkok earlier this year to discuss sex differences in obesity. One line of discussion looked at factors leading to women's weight gain during menopause, and how it might be avoided.

Co-chairs of the conference, Dr Amanda Sainsbury-Salis from Sydney's Garvan Institute of Medical Research and Dr Jennifer Lovejoy from the University of Washington, Seattle have summarised the conference consensus for the recent issue of Obesity Reviews The paper is now available online.

"One of the most interesting things that came out of the conference with applicability to large numbers of women was the discussion about why women gain weight during menopause," said Dr Sainsbury-Salis.

"So a number of women get confused when they start to gain weight during menopause, because their eating habits haven't changed".

"What the research shows clearly is that menopause causes a dramatic and sudden reduction in physical activity levels. Just previous to menopause, women halve their amount of activity in comparison to pre-menopause levels".

"So one reason women gain weight in menopause is because of a reduction in energy expenditure. Combine this with unchanged eating habits and weight gain is almost inevitable".........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


November 19, 2008, 8:20 PM CT

Ban on fast food TV advertising

Ban on fast food TV advertising
A ban on fast food advertisements in the United States could reduce the number of overweight children by as much as 18 percent, as per a new study being published this month in the Journal of Law and Economics The study also reports that eliminating the tax deductibility linked to television advertising would result in a reduction of childhood obesity, though in smaller numbers.

The study was conducted by scientists from the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) with funding from the National Institutes of Health. NBER economists Shin-Yi Chou of Lehigh University, Inas Rashad of Georgia State University, and Michael Grossman of City University of New York Graduate Center co-authored the paper, which measures the number of hours of fast food television advertising messages viewed by children on a weekly basis.

The authors observed that a ban on fast food television advertisements during children's programming would reduce the number of overweight children ages 3-11 by 18 percent, while also lowering the number of overweight adolescents ages 12-18 by 14 percent. The effect is more pronounced for males than females.

Though a ban would be effective, the authors also question whether such a high degree of government involvementand the costs of implementing such policiesis a practical option. Should the U.S. pursue that path, they would follow Sweden, Norway and Finland as the only countries to have banned commercial sponsorship of children's programs.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


November 19, 2008, 7:36 PM CT

Track your fitness with new cell phone applications

Track your fitness with new cell phone applications
University of Washington
UbiFit display on a cell phone. Different colored flowers grow for different activities, and butterflies appear when the user reaches weekly goals.

Planning on gobbling a few extra treats this holiday season? Soon, your cell phone may be able to help you maintain your exercise routine and keep the pounds off over winter months, without your having to lift a finger to keep track.

Scientists at the University of Washington and Intel have created two new cell phone applications, dubbed UbiFit and UbiGreen, to automatically track workouts and green transportation. The programs display motivational pictures on the phone's background screen that change the more the user works out or uses eco-friendly means of transportation.

The applications are designed to change people's behavior for the better, said Sunny Consolvo, a recently graduated UW Information School doctoral student and one of UbiFit's creators. In a three-month field experiment, people using UbiFit with the background display kept up their workout routines over the winter holidays, a period when people typically slack off on exercise, while people without the display let their regimen slide.

UbiFit and UbiGreen are part of a larger project at the UW to use mobile computing in everyday activities and long-term goals such as fitness, said project leader James Landay, UW computer science and engineering associate professor. "You can't get fit in a short period of time in one place," he said. "It happens long-term, in a number of different places and ways."........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


November 18, 2008, 5:20 AM CT

Anorexia impairs adolescent bone development

Anorexia impairs adolescent bone development
Children and teenagers with even mild cases of anorexia exhibit abnormal bone structure, as per a new study appearing in the recent issue of Radiology and presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).

"Adolescence is the most critical period for growth of bone mass, and the onset of anorexia interferes with that process," said Miriam A. Bredella, M.D., musculoskeletal radiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital and assistant professor of radiology at Harvard Medical School in Boston. "Impairment of bone development may permanently alter bone structure and increase the risk of fractures and osteoporosis in adult life".

Anorexia is an eating disorder characterized by emaciation, distorted body image and intense fear of gaining weight. People with the disorder are obsessed with weight control and often perceive themselves as overweight, even when they are dangerously thin. The disorder primarily occurs among young women and affects one in 100 adolescent girls, as per the National Women's Health Information Center.

Among the a number of health problems linked to anorexia is bone loss. Typically, dual energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) is used to test bone mineral density in adolescents with anorexia.

Dr. Bredella and his colleagues set out to determine if alterations in bone structure occur before significant decreases in bone mineral density become evident.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


November 12, 2008, 10:33 PM CT

A large waist can almost double your risk of premature death

A large waist can almost double your risk of premature death
Having a large waistline can almost double your risk of dying prematurely even if your body mass index is within the 'normal' range, as per a new study of over 350,000 people across Europe, published recently in the New England Journal (NEJM)

The study provides good evidence that storing excess fat around the waist poses a significant health risk, even in people not considered to be overweight or obese. It suggests that doctors should measure a patient's waistline and their hips as well as their body mass index as part of standard health checks, as per the researchers, from Imperial College London, the German Institute of Human Nutrition, and other research institutions across Europe.

Comparing subjects with the same body mass index, the risk of premature death increased in a linear fashion as the waist circumference increased. The risk of premature death was around double for subjects with a larger waist (more than 120cm or 47.2in for men and more than 100cm or 39.4in for women) in comparison to subjects with a smaller waist (less than 80cm or 31.5in for men and less than 65cm or 25.6in for women). Body mass index is usually used to assess if a person is of 'normal' weight.

Each 5cm increase in waist circumference increased the mortality risk by 17% in men and 13% in women.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


November 12, 2008, 10:20 PM CT

Exercise improves quality of life for heart failure patients

Exercise improves quality of life for heart failure patients
Heart failure patients who regularly exercise fare better and feel better about their lives than do similar patients who do not work out on a regular basis, say scientists at Duke University Medical Center.

The findings, reported today at the annual meeting of the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2008, go a long way toward addressing concerns about the value of exercise for the nation's five million patients with heart failure. They also raise important policy questions for the country's Medicare program and other insurers.

"Past studies have sent mixed signals about the merit of exercise for patients with heart failure. The HF-ACTION study (A Controlled Trial Investigating Outcomes Exercise TraiNing) shows that exercise is not only safe for patients, but also helps to improve the quality of their lives, overall," says Kathryn Flynn, PhD, a health services researcher at Duke Clinical Research Institute (DCRI) and lead author of the study.

HF-ACTION is the largest clinical trial to date examining the value of exercise in the therapy of heart failure. Investigators enrolled 2331 patients with moderate to severe heart failure at 82 sites throughout the U.S., Canada and France from 2003 to 2008.

Funded by a $37 million grant from the National Heart, Blood, and Lung Institute, scientists randomized participants to receive either standard care or standard care plus an exercise program. The exercise regimen consisted of three months of supervised aerobic training on a bicycle or treadmill, followed by instruction for continued home-based training. Scientists set the exercise goal at five, 40-minute workouts, or 200 minutes of exercise per week. Participants reached about 60 percent of that goal at one year.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source



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Did you know?
Exercise can't stop the aging process, but experts at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston say that for the elderly, whether it's weight training, walking, swimming or biking, 30 minutes of exercise three to five times a week is a good prescription for aging."It's never too late to start exercising," said Dr. Robert Roush, an associate professor of medicine-geriatrics at BCM. "Being physically active and exercising regularly can help prevent or delay some diseases and disabilities as people age.".

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