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January 26, 2009, 6:08 AM CT

What causes breast cancer on the other side?

What causes breast cancer on the other side?
HOUSTON - A preventive procedure to remove the unaffected breast in patients with breast cancer with disease in one breast may only be necessary in patients who have high-risk features as assessed by examining the patient's medical history and pathology of the breast cancer, as per scientists at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center.

Their findings, reported in the March 1, 2009 issue of Cancer, may help physicians predict the likelihood of patients developing breast cancer in the opposite breast (contralateral breast cancer), stratify risk and counsel patients on their therapy options.

"Women often consider contralateral prophylactic mastectomy (CPM) not because of medical recommendation, but because they fear having their breast cancer return," said Kelly Hunt, M.D., professor in the Department of Surgical Oncology at M. D. Anderson and main author on the study. "Currently it is very difficult to identify which patients are at enough risk to benefit from this aggressive and irreversible procedure. Our goal was to determine what characteristics defined these high-risk patients to better inform future decisions regarding CPM".

As per the researchers, approximately 2.7 percent of women diagnosed with breast cancer choose to have CPM. Recent statistics have shown that the rate of CPM in women with stage I-III breast cancer increased by 150 percent from 1998 to 2003 in the United States. Potential reasons patients with breast cancer choose to undergo CPM include risk reduction, difficult surveillance and reconstructive issues such as symmetry and/or balance.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


January 23, 2009, 6:28 AM CT

Better methods to quit smoking

Better methods to quit smoking
Scientists from the UK Centre for Tobacco Control Studies led by Dr Linda Bauld at Bath, along with colleagues from the University of Glasgow, have published research in the recent issue of Addiction journal comparing the success and cost-effectiveness of two types of stop smoking support services offered by the NHS. These are community-based group stop smoking support and one-to-one support provided in a pharmacy setting.

The study, funded by the Glasgow Centre for Population Health, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and Health Scotland, observed that more than a third of smokers using support groups quit smoking after four weeks; almost double the proportion of those using a pharmacy-based support scheme to help them quit.

Dr Linda Bauld said: "Smoking is the leading cause of preventable illness and death in the UK, and the single biggest cause of inequalities in health.

"These findings agree with prior research which shows that smokers who used a support group were more likely to quit. But we know that only a very small proportion of smokers using NHS stop smoking services in the UK use this form of help.

"We need to get the message across that group support, combined with stop smoking medications, works well for a number of people.

"However, we observed that both types of service in Glasgow are reaching and treating smokers from disadvantaged areas in substantial numbers, which is extremely encouraging and will contribute to efforts to reduce inequalities in health".........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


January 23, 2009, 6:17 AM CT

How some chemotherapy drugs block growth of blood vessels

How some chemotherapy drugs block growth of blood vessels
Scientists at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine have discovered how a whole class of usually used chemotherapy drugs can block cancer growth. Their findings, reported online this week at the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Early Edition, suggest that a subgroup of cancer patients might especially benefit from these drugs.

The anthracycline class of chemotherapeutics doxorubicin (Adriamycin), daunorubicin, epirubicin, idarubicin have been used for four decades to treat a number of types of cancer, including leukemia, lymphoma, sarcomas and carcinomas, The standard method of administration had been to use the highest tolerable dose every few weeks to kill all rapidly growing cells by preventing them from accurately copying their genetic material.

"But the late Judah Folkman discovered in 2000 that so-called metronomic therapy, giving patients lower doses of these drugs more frequently, can keep cancer growth at bay by blocking blood vessel formation, but the exact mechanism by which this occurred wasn't known," says Gregg L. Semenza, M.D., Ph.D., director of the vascular program at the Johns Hopkins Institute for Cell Engineering and a member of the McKusick-Nathans Institute of Genetic Medicine. "Now we've shown how it happens and what players are involved, which could help shape future clinical trials for patients with certain types of cancers".........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


January 23, 2009, 6:10 AM CT

Sleep Apnea may lead to diabetes

Sleep Apnea may lead to diabetes
In a study that addressed the issue of insulin sensitivity with respect to sleep disordered breathing (SDB), Naresh Punjabi, M.D., Ph.D. sought to examine the relationship between SDB and insulin resistance using the best tools at his disposal to do so.

The results definitively link SDB to pre-diabetic changes in insulin production and glucose metabolism. It was reported in the first issue for February of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, published by the American Thoracic Society.

"In the past scientists have used body mass index, or BMI, as a proxy measure for body fat, but we know this to be a variable and crude tool to assess the true percentage of body fat," said Dr. Punjabi. "In addition, prior studies have used surrogate measurements to assess the body's response to insulin without investigating the interaction that occurs between reduced insulin sensitivity and increased insulin production in the body".

To address the shortcomings of prior studies, Dr. Punjabi and his colleagues used two tools in their investigation into the link between SDB and insulin resistance: dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DEXA), a highly precise technique for assessing body fat, and frequently sampled intravenous glucose tolerance test (FSIVGTT), which provides a detailed picture of the subject's insulin sensitivity over time, rather than a simple snapshot at a specific moment.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


January 23, 2009, 6:06 AM CT

Do video games make you socially crippled?

Do video games make you socially crippled?
A newly released study connects young adults' use of video games to poorer relationships with friends and family and the student co-author expresses disappointment at his own findings.

Brigham Young University undergrad Alex Jensen and his faculty mentor, Laura Walker, publish their results Jan. 23 in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence

The research is based on information collected from 813 college students around the country. As the amount of time playing video games went up, the quality of relationships with peers and parents went down.

"It appears to be that young adults remove themselves from important social settings to play video games, or that people who already struggle with relationships are trying to find other ways to spend their time," Walker said. "My guess is that it's some of both and becomes circular".

For the record, Walker did not stand in the way of her family's wish for a Nintendo Wii. Jensen had hoped to find some positive results as justification for playing Madden NFL.

Study participants reported how often they play video games. They also answered a battery of questions measuring relationship quality, including how much time, trust, support and affection they share with friends and parents.

But the scientists say video games do not themselves mean "game over" for a relationship because the connection they found is modest.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


January 21, 2009, 11:06 PM CT

Smoking with most male cancer deaths

Smoking with most male cancer deaths
The association between tobacco smoke and cancer deaths beyond lung cancer deaths has been strengthened by a recent study from a UC Davis researcher, suggesting that increased tobacco control efforts could save more lives than previously estimated.

The epidemiological analysis, published online in BMC Cancer, linked smoking to more than 70 percent of the cancer death burden among Massachusetts men in 2003. This percentage is much higher than the prior estimate of 34 percent in 2001.

"This study provides support for the growing understanding among scientists that smoking is a cause of a number of more cancer deaths besides lung cancer," said main author Bruce Leistikow, a UC Davis associate adjunct professor of public health sciences. "The full impacts of tobacco smoke, including secondhand smoke, have been overlooked in the rush to examine such potential cancer factors as diet and environmental contaminants. As it turns out, much of the answer was probably smoking all along".

Leistikow used National Center for Health Statistics data to compare death rates from lung cancer to death rates from all other cancers among Massachusetts males. The assessment revealed that the two rates changed in tandem year-by-year from 1979 to 2003, with the strongest association among males aged 30-to-74 years.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


January 21, 2009, 10:59 PM CT

Novel target for treating arrhythmias

Novel target for treating arrhythmias
Abnormal heart rhythms arrhythmias are killers. They strike without warning, causing sudden cardiac death, which accounts for about 10 percent of all deaths in the United States.

Vanderbilt researchers have discovered a new molecular mechanism linked to arrhythmias. Their findings, reported in The Journal of Clinical Investigation, could lead to novel arrhythmia therapys.

"The current antiarrhythmic drugs do not prolong life," said Bjrn Knollmann, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of Medicine and Pharmacology and the senior author of the current report. "There's a large need for new approaches to antiarrhythmic treatment".

In their quest to understand how irregular heart rhythms arise as a way to find new molecular targets for therapy Knollmann and colleagues have focused on the role of calcium inside heart muscle cells.

Calcium is central to the contractile cycle. After it is released from its storage sites in heart muscle cells, it interacts with proteins called troponins, part of the cell's myofilament contractile apparatus. The interaction of calcium with troponins regulates myofilament activation and contraction.

Mutations in troponin genes had been associated with inherited forms of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), which carries a high risk of sudden cardiac death. HCM is perhaps most famous as a cause of sudden cardiac death in young athletes, but it can affect individuals of any age.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


January 21, 2009, 10:54 PM CT

Altered brain activity in schizophrenia

Altered brain activity in schizophrenia
Schizophrenia may blur the boundary between internal and external realities by overactivating a brain system that is involved in self-reflection, and thus causing an exaggerated focus on self, a new MIT and Harvard brain imaging study has observed.

The traditional view of schizophrenia is that the disturbed thoughts, perceptions and emotions that characterize the disease are caused by disconnections among the brain regions that control these different functions.

But this study, appearing Jan. 19 in the advance online issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, observed that schizophrenia also involves an excess of connectivity between the so-called default brain regions, which are involved in self-reflection and become active when we are thinking about nothing in particular, or thinking about ourselves.

"People normally suppress this default system when they perform challenging tasks, but we observed that patients with schizophrenia don't do this," said John D. Gabrieli, a professor in the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT and one of the study's 13 authors. "We think this could help to explain the cognitive and psychological symptoms of schizophrenia."

Gabrieli added that he hopes the research might lead to ways of predicting or monitoring individual patients' response to therapys for this mental illness, which occurs in about 1 percent of the population.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


January 20, 2009, 7:28 PM CT

Is genetic theory of inheritance incorrect?

Is genetic theory of inheritance incorrect?
Scientists at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) have detected evidence that DNA may not be the only carrier of heritable information; a secondary molecular mechanism called epigenetics may also account for some inherited traits and diseases. These findings challenge the fundamental principles of genetics and inheritance, and potentially provide a new insight into the primary causes of human diseases.

Your mother's eyes, your father's height, your predisposition to disease-- these are traits inherited from your parents. Traditionally, 'heritability' is estimated by comparing monozygotic (genetically identical) twins to dizygotic (genetically different) twins. A trait or disease is called heritable if monozygotic twins are more similar to each other than dizygotic twins. In molecular terms, heritability has traditionally been attributed to variations in the DNA sequence.

CAMH's Dr. Art Petronis, head of the Krembil Family Epigenetics Laboratory, and his team conducted a comprehensive epigenetic analysis of 100 sets of monozygotic and dizygotic twins in the first study of its kind. Said Dr. Petronis, "We investigated molecules that attach to DNA and regulate various gene activities. These DNA modifications are called epigenetic factors."

The CAMH study showed that epigenetic factors acting independently from DNA were more similar in monozygotic twins than dizygotic twins. This finding suggests that there is a secondary molecular mechanism of heredity. The epigenetic heritability may help explain currently unclear issues in human disease, such as the presence of a disease in only one monozygotic twin, the different susceptibility of males (e.g. to autism) and females (e.g. to lupus), significant fluctuations in the course of a disease (e.g. bipolar disorder, inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis), among numerous others.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


January 20, 2009, 7:25 PM CT

Socially active and not easily stressed?

Socially active and not easily stressed?
A newly released study shows that people who are socially active and not easily stressed appears to be less likely to develop dementia. The research is reported in the January 20, 2009, print issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

The study involves 506 older people who did not have dementia when first examined. The group was given questionnaires about their personality traits and lifestyle. The personality questions identified people with different degrees of neuroticism, a term meaning easily distressed. The questions also measured extraversion, or openness to talking to people. Those who were not easily distressed were calm and self-satisfied, whereas people who were easily distressed were emotionally unstable, negative and nervous. Outgoing people scored high on the extraversion scale and were socially active and optimistic in comparison to people with low extraversion who were reserved and introspective.

The lifestyle questionnaire determined how often each person regularly participated in leisure or organizational activities and the richness of their social network. Participants were followed for six years. During that time, 144 developed dementia.

The study observed that people who were not socially active but calm and relaxed had a 50 percent lower risk of developing dementia compared with people who were isolated and prone to distress. The dementia risk was also 50 percent lower for people who were outgoing and calm in comparison to those who were outgoing and prone to distress.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source



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Did you know?
Studies in monkeys and women suggest that unlike traditional estrogen therapy, a diet high in the natural plant estrogens found in soy does not increase the risk of uterine cancer in postmenopausal women, according to Mark Cline, D.V.M., Ph.D., an associate professor of comparative medicine at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center.

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