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October 18, 2010, 7:51 AM CT

Alcohol during pregnancy

Alcohol during pregnancy
Scientific data continue to indicate that higher intake of alcohol during pregnancy adversely affects the fetus, and could lead to very severe developmental or other problems in the child. However, most recent publications show little or no effects of occasional or light drinking by the mother during pregnancy. The studies also demonstrate how socio-economic, education, and other lifestyle factors of the mother may have large effects on the health of the fetus and child; these must be considered when evaluating the potential effects of alcohol during pregnancy.

A very large population-based observational study from the UK observed that at the age of 5 years, the children of women who reported light (no more than 1-2 units of alcohol per week or per occasion) drinking did not show any evidence of impairment on testing for behavioral and emotional problems or cognitive ability. There was a tendency for the male children of women reporting "heavy/binge" drinking during pregnancy (7 or more units per week or 6 or more units per occasion) to have poorer behavioural scores, but the effects were less clear among female offspring.

A second study, published in Pediatrics, based on a population in Western Australia examined the associations between dose, pattern, and timing of prenatal alcohol exposure (PAE) and birth defects and found similar results, that there was no association between low or moderate prenatal alcohol exposure and birth defects.........

Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source


October 18, 2010, 7:45 AM CT

Right foods aid memory and protect against disease

Right foods aid memory and protect against disease
For the first time scientists have found out what effect multiple, rather than just single, foods with anti-inflammatory effects have on healthy individuals.

The results of a diet study show that bad cholesterol was reduced by 33 per cent, blood lipids by 14 per cent, blood pressure by 8 per cent and a risk marker for blood clots by 26 per cent. A marker of inflammation in the body was also greatly reduced, while memory and cognitive function were improved.

"The results have exceeded our expectations! I would like to claim that there has been no prior study with similar effects on healthy subjects", says Inger Bjrck, professor of food-related nutrition at Lund University and head of the University's Antidiabetic Food Centre.

Forty-four healthy, overweight people between the ages of 50 and 75 took part in the diet study. For four weeks they ate foods which are presumed to reduce low-grade inflammation in the body, a condition which in turn triggers metabolic syndrome and thus obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

The test diet was high in antioxidants, low-GI foods (i.e. slow release carbohydrates), omega fatty acids, wholegrain products, probiotics and viscous dietary fibre. Examples of foods eaten were oily fish, barley, soy protein, blueberries, almonds, cinnamon, vinegar and a certain type of wholegrain bread. Some of the products in the food portfolio are still not available in the shops, but were developed specifically for the study.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


October 18, 2010, 7:43 AM CT

Adverse life events can make us stronger

Adverse life events can make us stronger
A study by University at Buffalo psychologist Mark Seery has found that it's true what they say: Whatever doesn't kill us makes us stronger.

Credit: University at Buffalo

We've all heard the adage that whatever doesn't kill us makes us stronger, but until now the preponderance of scientific evidence has offered little support for it.

However, a new national multi-year longitudinal study of the effects of adverse life events on mental health has observed that adverse experiences do, in fact, appear to foster subsequent adaptability and resilience, with resulting advantages for mental health and well being.

The study, "Whatever Does Not Kill Us: Cumulative Lifetime Adversity, Vulnerability and Resilience," to be reported in the forthcoming issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, is available on the website of the American Psychological Association at http://psycnet.apa.org/psycinfo/2010-21218-001/.

It examined a national sample of people who reported their lifetime history of adverse experiences and several measures of current mental health and well being.

Authors are Mark Seery, PhD, assistant professor of psychology at the University at Buffalo; E. Alison Holman, PhD, assistant professor of nursing sciences, University of California, Irvine; and Roxane Cohen Silver, PhD, professor of psychology and social behavior and medicine at UC Irvine.

Seery, senior author of the study, says prior research indicates that exposure to adverse life events typically predicts negative effects on mental health and well-being, such that more adversity predicts worse outcomes.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


October 18, 2010, 7:32 AM CT

Blood pressure, glaucoma links in migraine

Blood pressure, glaucoma links in migraine
Data on glaucoma risk in people with migraine and on innovative uses of mobile, digital technology are featured in today's Scientific Program, to be presented at the 2010 American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) Middle East-Africa Council of Ophthalmology (MEACO) Joint Meeting. The AAO-MEACO meeting is in session October 16 through 19 at McCormick Place, Chicago. It is the largest, most comprehensive ophthalmic education conference in the world.



The Blood Pressure-Glaucoma Connection in People with Migraine


Yury S Astakhov, MD, PhD, of Pavlov Medical University, St. Petersburg, Russian Federation, studied how day- and at night-time blood pressure levels appears to be correlation to the development of glaucoma in people with migraine. Understanding such effects is important for doctors in determining how to treat patients with multiple diseases.

Migraine is a known risk factor for open-angle glaucoma, a disease that can cause blindness due to damage to the optic nerve. The association between the two is stronger for people with "normal tension" glaucoma (NTG), in which the pressure within the eye is normal but optic nerve damage occurs nonetheless. It is also known that glaucoma patients who have low blood pressure at night are more likely to develop visual field loss (reduction of the full range of vision, which occurs first in the peripheral vision).........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


October 18, 2010, 7:26 AM CT

Key genetic trigger of depression

Key genetic trigger of depression
Yale University scientists have found a gene that seems to be a key contributor to the onset of depression and is a promising target for a new class of antidepressants, they report Oct. 17 in the journal Nature Medicine

"This could be a primary cause, or at least a major contributing factor, to the signaling abnormalities that lead to depression," said Ronald S. Duman, professor of psychiatry and pharmacology at Yale and senior author of the study.

Researchers have had a difficult time pinning down the cause of depression, which afflicts almost 16 percent of Americans in any given year and carries an annual economic burden of $100 billion.

Symptoms of depression vary widely among individuals. Most now think that multiple physiological processes are involved in major depressive disorder. That explains why people respond differently to most usually prescribed antidepressants, which work by manipulating the uptake of the neurotransmitter serotonin. However, as a number of as 40 percent of depressed patients do not respond to currently available medications, which take weeks to months to produce a therapeutic response.

Duman's team did whole genome scans on tissue samples from 21 deceased individuals who had been diagnosed with depression and compared gene expression levels to those of 18 individuals who had not been diagnosed with depression. They observed that one gene called MKP-1 was increased more than two hundred percent in the brain tissues of depressed individuals.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


October 18, 2010, 7:25 AM CT

Genetic test to predict early menopause

Genetic test to predict early menopause
The first research from the Breakthrough Generations Study could lead to a test to predict a woman's reproductive lifespan.

The findings, published recently in Human Molecular Genetics, could have considerable impact on women in the UK and other western countries, where a number of start having children at a later age. Early menopause affects one in 20 UK women.

The study from researchers at the University of Exeter Peninsula Medical School and The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR), funded by The Wellcome Trust, tested four genes linked to the menopause. They compared 2,000 women from the Breakthrough Generations Study who had experienced early menopause with a matched group of the same number. The four genes each affected risk of early menopause. In combination, they had a larger impact, which goes towards explaining why some women experience early menopause.

The Breakthrough Generations Study is a large and comprehensive study into the causes of breast cancer and a partnership between Breakthrough Breast Cancer and the ICR. The study will follow the 100,000 UK women participants for the next 40 years to unravel the lifestyle, environmental and genetic factors that cause the disease.

Eventhough early menopause is linked to a decreased risk of breast cancer, women who experience early menopause are susceptible to other health problems including osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease and a reduction in fertility.........

Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source


October 15, 2010, 7:01 AM CT

Advances against preeclampsia

Advances against preeclampsia
Surendra Sharma, professor of pediatrics
"Hopefully, preeclampsia can be controlled."
In as a number of as 8 percent of pregnancies worldwide, women who seem fine for months develop preeclampsia, a serious complication causing symptoms including high blood pressure, severe swelling, and problems with placental development. The untreatable and unpredictable condition, with no known cause, often requires premature delivery and is sometimes fatal to both mother and fetus.

In a newly released study, scientists led by a team at Brown University and Women & Infants Hospital describe two major advances: a well-defined animal model of preeclampsia and a potential lab test for diagnosing the disease in people.

"Our model is the first pregnancy-specific animal model," said Surendra Sharma, professor of pediatrics at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University and a research scientist at Women & Infants, "and our predictive assay is the first one where we can go back to the first trimester and predict problems".

Sharma is a senior author on the study, published online this month in The American Journal of Pathology. In addition to pediatrics researchers, the study also involved researchers at the Lifespan Center for International Health Research, Harvard Medical School in Boston, and Linkoping University and Helsingborg Hospital in Sweden.........

Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source


October 15, 2010, 6:59 AM CT

Fats galore in human plasma

Fats galore in human plasma
Edward A. Dennis of University of California, San Diego.

Credit: UC San Diego

Human blood is famously fraught with fats; now scientists have a specific idea of just how numerous and diverse these lipids actually are. A national research team, led by researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, has created the first "lipidome" of human plasma, identifying and quantifying almost 600 distinct fat species circulating in human blood.

"Everybody knows about blood lipids like cholesterol and triglycerides," said Edward A. Dennis, PhD, distinguished professor of pharmacology, chemistry and biochemistry at UC San Diego and principal investigator of LIPID MAPS, a national consortium studying the structure and function of lipids. "For the first time, we've identified and measured hundreds more and ultimately we might discover thousands. These numbers and their remarkable diversity illustrate that lipids have key, specific functions, most of which we do still not recognize or understand. This lipidome is a first step towards being able to investigate correlations between specific fat molecules and disease and developing new therapys."

The findings would be reported in the recent issue of the Journal of Lipid Research

In recent years, researchers have begun to appreciate the greater, more complex roles of lipids in human biology (among them the emergence of vitamin D). The utility of lipids in building cell membranes is well known, as is their function as repositories of stored energy. Less well-understood, however, is their role as signaling molecules.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


October 15, 2010, 6:57 AM CT

Need a study break to refresh?

Need a study break to refresh?
The Stanford researchers' study suggests that the need to take a break to clear your mind is all in your head
It could happen to students cramming for exams, people working long hours or just about anyone burning the candle at both ends: Something tells you to take a break. Watch some TV. Have a candy bar. Goof off, tune out for a bit and come back to the task at hand when you're feeling better. After all, you're physically exhausted.

But a newly released study from Stanford psychology experts suggests the urge to refresh (or just procrastinate) is - well - all in your head.

In a paper published this week in Psychological Science, the scientists challenge a long-held theory that willpower - defined as the ability to resist temptation and stay focused on a demanding task - is a limited resource. Researchers have argued that when willpower is drained, the only way to restore it is by recharging our bodies with rest, food or some other physical distraction that takes you away from whatever is burning you out.

Not so, says the Stanford team. Instead, they've observed that a person's mindset and personal beliefs about willpower determine how long and how well they'll be able to work on a tough mental exercise.

"If you think of willpower as something that's biologically limited, you're more likely to be tired when you perform a difficult task," said Veronika Job, the paper's main author. "But if you think of willpower as something that is not easily depleted, you can go on and on".........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


October 14, 2010, 8:04 AM CT

ver-the-counter weight-reducing products can cause harm

ver-the-counter weight-reducing products can cause harm
The desire for a quick-fix for obesity fuels a lucrative market in so-called natural remedies. But a study of medical records in Hong Kong revealed 66 cases where people were suspected to have been poisoned by a "natural" slimming treatment. In eight cases the people became severely ill, and in one case the person died. The study is published recently in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology

The scientists looked at the ingredients in the 81 slimming products that these people had taken. They found 12 different agents that fell into five categories: undeclared weight-loss drugs; drug analogues (unlicensed chemical derivatives of licensed drugs); banned drugs; drugs used for an inappropriate indication; and thyroid hormones.

"People like the idea of using a natural remedy because they believe that if it is natural, it will be safe. There are two problems here. Firstly not all natural agents are harmless, and secondly the remedies also contain potentially harmful manufactured drugs," says Dr Magdalene Tang, who works at the Toxicology Reference Laboratory at the Princess Margaret Hospital in Hong Kong.

She believes that fewer people would use these products if they were more aware of the potential risks involved.

While the research concentrated on cases in Hong Kong, the work raises worldwide concerns. These slimming products are widely available over the counter not only in Hong Kong, but in other countries where drug regulation is relatively non-comprehensive. In addition, anyone can buy them over the internet even if you do live in regions with tighter regulatory control.........

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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