February 26, 2009, 6:07 AM CT
Retinal "Dark Cells" Imagined
A layer of "dark cells" in the retina that is responsible for maintaining the health of the light-sensing cells in our eyes has been imaged in a living retina for the first time.
The ability to see this nearly invisible layer could help doctors identify the onset of a number of diseases of the eye long before a patient notices symptoms. The findings are reported today's issue of Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science.
"Our goal is to figure out why macular degeneration, one of the most prevalent eye diseases, actually happens," says David Williams, director of the Center for Visual Science and professor in the Institute of Optics at the University of Rochester. "Macular degeneration affects one in 10 people over the age of 65, and as the average age of the U.S. population continues to increase, it is only going to get more and more common. We know these dark retinal cells are compromised by macular degeneration, and now that we can image them in the living eye, we might be able to detect the disease at a much earlier stage".
In 1997, Williams' team was the first to image individual photoreceptor cells in the living eye, using a technique called adaptive optics, which was borrowed from astronomers trying to get clearer images of stars. To image the dark cells behind the photoreceptors, however, Williams employed adaptive optics with a new method to make the dark cells glow brightly enough to be detected.........
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February 25, 2009, 6:27 AM CT
Smoking and socioeconomic inequities in lung cancer
Europeans with the least education have a higher occurence rate of lung cancer compared with those with the highest education. However, smoking history accounts for approximately half of this risk, as per a research studyin the February 24 online issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
Prior studies showed that individuals with a lower socioeconomic status have a higher risk for developing lung cancer. Some studies have also suggested that some of the excess risk of lung cancer is due to smoking.
To further investigate the contribution of smoking to the discrepancy in lung cancer incidence, Gwenn Menvielle, Ph.D., and his colleagues examined the association of smoking, diet, education, and lung cancer in 391,251 individuals in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition study. Menvielle, who conducted the research in The Netherlands at the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, Bilthoven, and the department of public health of the Erasmus MC, Rotterdam, is now at the Institut National de la Sant et de la Recherche Mdicale in Villejuif, France.
The scientists used participants' highest level of education achieved as an indicator of socioeconomic status and had smoking and diet information from questionnaires completed at study entry.........
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February 25, 2009, 6:25 AM CT
Goserelin improves survival in breast cancer
Goserelin, a lutenizing hormone-releasing hormone agonist, reduces the long-term risk of disease recurrence and deaths in premenopausal women with early breast cancer who did not take tamoxifen, as per trial data published in the February 24 online issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
Systematic reviews have shown that lutenizing hormone-releasing hormone agonists, including goserelin, reduce the risk of disease recurrence and death due to breast cancer in premenopausal women. However the long-term impact of goserelin was not known, especially compared to women who did or did not take tamoxifen.
Women with breast cancer were randomly assigned to take goserelin (Zoladex), tamoxifen, both agents, or neither drug for two years in the Zoladex in Premenopausal Patients study. In this analysis, which included 2,706 women, Allan Hackshaw, of the Cancer Research UK Trials Centre at University College London, and his colleagues examined the long-term impact of the agents on various outcomes, including the risk of the cancer returning and the risk of dying from breast cancer or any cause.
The effect of two years of goserelin therapy was comparable to that conferred by two years of tamoxifen. Among patients who took goserelin alone, there were 13.9 fewer events per 100 women 15 years after starting therapy, compared with those who did not take either drug. Among women who took both drugs, the benefit of adding goserelin to tamoxifen was smaller (2.8 fewer events per 100 patients) and did not reach statistical significance.........
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February 25, 2009, 6:22 AM CT
Stress among vets
Veterinarians frequently suffer psychosocial stress and demoralization linked to heavy workloads. Research published in BioMed Central's open access Journal of Occupational Medicine and Toxicology
analyses the extent of the problem and reveals a complex relationship with binge drinking, tobacco consumption and drug use.
A team of scientists co-ordinated by Melanie Harling, from the Institution for Statutory Accident Insurance and Prevention in Hamburg, Gera number of, reviewed 1060 practicing vets in north Gera number of via a carefully-designed, self-administered questionnaire. The scientists observed that the likelihood of psychosocial stress increased with the number of working hours and was a consequence of time pressure due to a heavy workload, difficulties in balancing professional life with private life, insufficient free time and dealing with difficult customers. The authors observed that a number of of the vets reported symptoms of demoralization - they were frequently dissatisfied with themselves, rarely optimistic or confident and almost never felt proud.
By close examination of their tobacco, alcohol and medical drug habits, Melanie and her colleagues described a series of complex inter-relationships. As per M. Harling "these results indicate that psychosocial stress at work is linked to a poor psychological state, high-risk alcohol consumption and regular drug use while demoralization is linked to tobacco consumption, problem drinking and regular drug intake. Furthermore psychosocial stress leads to demoralization which in turn leads to an increased consumption of psychotropic substances. One way of coping with psychosocial stress in the veterinary profession might be the consumption of psychotropic substances".........
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February 25, 2009, 6:21 AM CT
Yoga benefits breast cancer patients
Women undertaking a ten week program of 75 minute Restorative Yoga (RY) classes gained positive differences in aspects of mental health such as depression, positive emotions, and spirituality (feeling calm/peaceful) in comparison to the control group. The study, published recently in a special issue of Psycho-Oncology
focusing on physical activity, shows the women had a 50% reduction in depression and a 12% increase in feelings of peace and meaning after the yoga sessions.
RY is a gentle type of yoga which is similar to other types of yoga classes, moving the spine in all directions but in a more passive and gentle way. Props such as cushions, bolsters, and blankets provide complete physical support for total relaxation with minimal physical effort, and so people in differing levels of health can practice yoga more easily.
44 women participated in the study, with 22 undertaking the yoga classes and 22 in the waitlist control group. All of the women had breast cancer; 34% were actively undergoing cancer therapy while the majority had already completed therapy. All participants completed a questionnaire at the beginning and end of the ten week program, asking them to evaluate their quality of life through various measures. The results clearly showed that the women who had been given the RY classes experienced a wide range of benefits in comparison to the control group (who were later all invited to attend identical RY classes).........
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February 25, 2009, 6:19 AM CT
Diabetes can lead to postpartum depression
BOSTON, Mass. (Feb 23, 2009) Postpartum depression is a seriousand often undiagnosedcondition affecting about 10 to 12 percent of new mothers. Some of the causes might include personal history of depression, stressful life events, and lack of social, financial or emotional support. Left untreated, it can have lasting negative effects not only on the mother but on her child's development.
In the first study of its kind, researchers at Harvard Medical School and the University of Minnesota School of Public Health report that low-income women with diabetes have a more than 50% increased risk of experiencing this serious illness.
"While prior studies have linked diabetes and depression in the general population, this is the first time, to our knowledge, that the relationship has been studied specifically in pregnant women and new mothers," says Katy Backes Kozhimannil, research fellow in the Department of Ambulatory Care and Prevention at Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care. "We believe these findings may help clinicians better identify and treat depression in new mothers".
These findings are published in the February 25 edition of JAMA
, the Journal of the American Medical Association
For over 25 years, clinicians have been aware that new mothers are at risk for postpartum depression. However, the condition is difficult to identify. A number of symptoms are attributed to the every-day struggles of being a new mother. Others, such as irrational thoughts about harming the baby or, on the other hand, obsessing over the baby's health, are simply difficult for new mothers to admit.........
Posted by: JoAnn Read more Source
February 25, 2009, 6:17 AM CT
An angry heart can lead to sudden death
Before flying off the handle the next time someone cuts you off in traffic, consider the latest research from Yale School of Medicine scientists that links changes brought on by anger or other strong emotions to future arrhythmias and sudden cardiac arrests, which are blamed for 400,000 deaths annually.
The studyled by Rachel Lampert, M.D., associate professor of medicine at Yale School of Medicine, and reported in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology
deepens our understanding of how anger and other types of mental stress can trigger potentially lethal ventricular arrhythmias.
Lampert and her team studied 62 patients with implantable cardiovert and enlarged hearts. They were monitored three months after the ICD was implanted and then given a mental stress test requiring them to recall a stressful situation that angered them.
Lampert and her team sought to discover whether T-wave alternans (TWA), which monitor electrical instability in the heart induced by anger, would predict future ventricular arrhythmias. The team observed that those in the group with more anger-induced electrical instability were more likely to experience arrhythmias one year after the study than those in the control group.
"Further studies are needed to determine whether there is a role for therapies which may reduce anger and the body's response to stress, thereby preventing arrhythmias in those at risk," said Lampert.........
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February 25, 2009, 4:55 AM CT
Determining Risk for Pancreatic Cancer
In the latest clinical trial for a technique to detect pancreas cancer, scientists found they could differentiate cells that are malignant from those that are benign, pre-malignant, or even early stage indicators called mucinous cystic lesions.
Pancreas cancer is dangerous to screen for, yet deadly if ignored. The pancreas is extremely sensitive--biopsies can lead to potentially fatal complications--but with few symptoms, the cancer is commonly detected too late.
The disease is the fourth largest cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States, with a five-year survival rate of less than 5 percent. If doctors can find ways to identify early precursor lesions, the disease can be prevented in most individuals.
Reporting online Feb. 10, 2009, in the journal Disease Markers, scientists from Northwestern University and Evanston Northwestern Healthcare report convincing results with their minimally invasive methods for detecting pancreas cancer.
"This technique allows us to detect changes in cells that look normal using microscopy," says co-author Vadim Backman of Northwestern University. "This level of detail allows us to detect cancer in its earliest stages".
Their techniques, called four-dimensional elastic light scattering fingerprinting (4D-ELF) and low-coherence enhanced backscattering spectroscopy (LEBS), identify the cancer and its precursors by analyzing light refracted through cells in the duodenum, a section of the small intestine adjacent to the pancreas.........
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February 24, 2009, 6:13 AM CT
Do experiences or material goods make us happier?
Should I spend money on a vacation or a new computer? Will an experience or an object make me happier? A newly released study in the Journal of Consumer Research
says it depends on different factors, including how materialistic you are.
Even though conventional wisdom says choose the vacation, authors Leonardo Nicolao, Julie R. Irwin (both University of Texas at Austin), and Joseph K. Goodman (Washington University, St. Louis) say the answer is more complicated than previously thought.
"Dating as early as David Hume and through Tibor Scitovsky and a number of others, the sentiment has been that individuals will be happier if they spend their money on experiences (theatre, concerts, and vacations) as opposed to material purchases (fancy cars, bigger houses, and gadgets)" write the authors.
The authors say this advice holds true for purchases that turn out well. But when it comes to negative purchases (a disappointing sofa, a bad vacation), their research shows that experiences decrease happiness more than material goods. "In other words, we show that the recommendation should include a caveat: Purchases that decrease happiness are less damaging when they are material purchases than when they are experiential purchases," the authors explain.
Highly materialistic individuals, the authors found, were equally happy with their positive purchases and equally unhappy with negative purchases whether they were experiences or material goods. The scientists also observed that emotional intensity decreases more quickly after material purchases than experiential ones.........
Posted by: JoAnn Read more Source
February 23, 2009, 10:11 PM CT
Are women more generous?
Why would women give more to the victims of Hurricane Katrina than to the victims of the Indian Ocean tsunami? A newly released study in the Journal of Consumer Research
sheds light onto the way gender and moral identity affect donations.
Authors Karen Page Winterich (Texas A&M University), Vikas Mittal (Rice University), and William T. Ross, Jr. (Pennsylvania State University) focused their research on how people choose among charities. With so a number of worthy charities soliciting donations, the scientists wanted to understand how people make these critical decisions.
"We gave people in the United States $5 that they could allocate to Hurricane Katrina victims, Indian Ocean tsunami victims, or themselves," explain the authors. "On average, people kept $1.10 for themselves and donated the rest. However, the actual amount donated to each charity depended on people's gender and moral identity".
The authors described moral identity as the extent to which being moral, fair, and just is part of someone's self-identity. Gender identity (which generally correlates with biological sex) is defined by how much a person focuses on communal goals, like considering the welfare of others (considered "feminine") versus "agentic" goals, like assertiveness, control, and focus on the self (considered "masculine").........
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