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March 24, 2008, 7:55 PM CT

The surprising power of the pill

The surprising power of the pill
Dr. Haim Pinkus
Women who have tried to conceive using in vitro fertilization (IVF) methods are painfully aware that timing is of the essence. There are cancelled vacations, too a number of sick days taken from work, and the necessity to plan everything around the therapy.

But thanks to a Tel Aviv University study, trying for a baby has just been made easier. In a surprising finding, scientists have discovered that the same pill used to prevent pregnancy can actually help a woman conceive.

Dr. Haim Pinkas MD, a senior doctor at the Rabin Medical Center and an academic staff member of Tel Aviv Universitys Sackler School of Medicine, and colleagues at the infertility center where he practices, have observed that a two-week intervention therapy using a standard low-dose birth control pill can help time egg harvesting, making the IVF process more convenient for both doctor and patient.

The study was done on 1,800 women at the Infertility and IVF Unit, Helen Schneider Hospital for Women, Rabin Medical Center, Petach Tikva and appeared in the Journal of Assisted Reproduction & Genetics in January of this year.

All in the Timing

As per the American Fertility Association, more than 15% of American couples have difficulty conceiving a child. There are currently two types of treatment natural methods and assisted reproductive techniques such as IVF. In a number of cases, IVF offers the last hope to conceive a child.........

Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source


March 24, 2008, 7:53 PM CT

Obesity and cancer sreening

Obesity and cancer sreening
A review of cancer screening studies shows that white women who are obese are less likely than healthy weight women to get the recommended screenings for breast and cervical cancer, as per scientists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hills School of Public Health.

The trend was not seen as consistently among black women; however there were fewer high quality studies that examined black women separately.

Obesity is increasing, and so is the evidence that obesity increases the risk of certain cancers like colorectal cancer and post-menopausal breast cancer, said Sarah S. Cohen, lead author of the article published online today by the American Cancer Society. Its a disturbing trend, then, to see that women who are at increased risk of cancer because of their body size are less likely to be receiving screening tests that can detect cancer early, when it is treatable.

Cohen and her colleagues from the UNC School of Public Healths epidemiology department and the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center evaluated 32 relevant published studies on breast, cervical and colorectal cancers that considered associations between obesity and screening tests recommended for women in the United States.

The most consistent associations reported across all the studies were for cervical cancer screenings, with fewer women getting the recommended screening test (Papanicolaou or Pap tests) as body mass index increased. The studies showed a stronger trend among white women than black women.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


March 24, 2008, 7:50 PM CT

Dramatic Rise in Hepatitis C-Related Deaths in the United States

Dramatic Rise in Hepatitis C-Related Deaths in the United States
Hepatitis C-related deaths in the United States increased by 123 percent from 1995 through 2004, the most recent year for which data are available. Mortality rates peaked in 2002, then declined slightly overall, while continuing to rise among people 55 to 64 years old. These findings are reported in the recent issue of Hepatology, a journal of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD). The article is also available online at Wiley Interscience (www.interscience.wiley.com).

Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is the most common blood-borne infection in the United States, affecting about 1.3 percent of the population. Up to one-in-five sufferers develop liver cirrhosis, and up to one-in-20 develop liver cancer. HCV is the top reason for liver transplantation, and the 16th leading cause of premature death in the country. Recent evidence has suggested that disease burden and mortality from chronic HCV infection may increase in the coming years, as the number of persons with longstanding infections continues to rise.

To update estimates of trends and demographics of hepatitis C-related mortality in the U.S., a team of scientists led by Matthew Wise of UCLA and including scientists from the CDC and the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health analyzed mortality rates derived from U.S. Census and multiple-cause-of-death data from 1995-2004. They included 56,409 HCV related deaths, including those for which the disease was the underlying cause; those for which chronic liver disease was the underlying cause and hepatitis C was a contributing cause; and those for which HIV was the underlying cause and chronic liver disease and hepatitis C were contributing causes.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


March 20, 2008, 7:44 PM CT

Solving the drug price crisis

Solving the drug price crisis
The cover of Finkelstein and Temin's book
The mounting U.S. drug price crisis can be contained and eventually reversed by separating drug discovery from drug marketing and by establishing a non-profit company to oversee funding for new medicines, as per two MIT experts on the pharmaceutical industry.

Stan Finkelstein, M.D., senior research scientist in MIT's Engineering Systems Division, and Peter Temin, Elisha Gray II Professor of Economics, present their research and detail their proposal in their new book, "Reasonable Rx: Solving the Drug Price Crisis," published by Financial Times Press.

Finkelstein and Temin address immediate national problems--the rising cost of available medicines, the high cost of innovation and the 'blockbuster' method of selecting drugs for development--and predict worsening new ones, unless bold steps are taken.

"Drug prices in the United States are higher than anywhere else in the world. Right now, the revenues from those drugs finance research and development of new drugs. We propose to reduce prices, not at the expense of innovation, but by changing the way innovation is financed," said Temin, also the author of "Taking Your Medicine: Drug Regulation in the US."

"Nationally, if we keep the current structure, in 50 years only hedge fund managers will be able to afford prescription drugs. Drug development will focus on therapies for those small groups of people who can pay a thousand dollars a pill. With income distribution widening and insurance carriers already refusing some coverage, this would be a disaster," said Temin.........

Posted by: Sue      Read more         Source


March 18, 2008, 9:12 PM CT

Does stress damage the brain?

Does stress damage the brain?
Individuals who experience military combat obviously endure extreme stress, and this exposure leaves a number of diagnosed with the psychiatric condition of post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. PTSD is linked to several abnormalities in brain structure and function. However, as researcher Roger Pitman explains, Eventhough it is tempting to conclude that these abnormalities were caused by the traumatic event, it is also possible that they were pre-existing risk factors that increased the risk of developing PTSD upon the traumatic events occurrence. Drs. Kasai and Yamasue along with their colleagues sought to examine this association in a new study reported in the March 15th issue of Biological Psychiatry.

The authors measured the gray matter density of the brains of combat-exposed Vietnam veterans, some with and some without PTSD, and their combat-unexposed identical twins using a technology called magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The detailed images provided by the MRI scans then allowed the researchers to compare specific brain regions of the siblings. They observed that the gray matter density of the pregenual anterior cingulate cortex, an area of the brain involved in emotional functioning, was reduced in veterans with PTSD, but not in their twins who had not experienced combat. As per Dr. Pitman, this finding supports the conclusion that the psychological stress resulting from the traumatic stressor may damage this brain region, with deleterious emotional consequences.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


March 18, 2008, 9:05 PM CT

Grape skin compound fights the complications of diabetes

Grape skin compound fights the complications of diabetes
Research carried out by researchers at the Peninsula Medical School in the South West of England has observed that resveratrol, a compound present naturally in grape skin, can protect against the cellular damage to blood vessels caused by high production of glucose in diabetes, as per a paper reported in the science journal Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism this week.

The elevated levels of glucose that circulate in the blood of patients with diabetes causes micro- and macrovascular complications by damaging mitochondria, the tiny power plants within cells responsible for generating energy. When they are damaged they can leak electrons and make highly damaging free radicals.

Complications that can result when this happen include nephropathy (kidney disease), heart disease and retinopathy (which if left untreated can lead to blindness).

Resveratrol stops the damage by helping cells make protective enzymes to prevent the leakage of electrons and the production of toxic free radicals.

As well as being naturally present in grape skins, resveratrol is also present in seeds, peanuts and red wine.

Dr. Matt Whiteman, Principal Investigator and Senior Lecturer at the Institute of Biomedical and Clinical Science, Peninsula Medical School, commented: Resveratrols antioxidant effects in the test tube are well documented but our research shows the link between high levels of glucose, its damaging effect on cell structure, and the ability of resveratrol of protect against and mend that damage.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


March 18, 2008, 8:57 PM CT

Vegan Diet Promotes Atheroprotective Antibodies

Vegan Diet Promotes Atheroprotective Antibodies
A gluten-free vegan diet may improve the health of patients with rheumatoid arthritis, as per new research from Karolinska Institutet. The diet has a beneficial effect on several risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

Rheumatoid arthritis is linked to an increased risk of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and cardiovascular diseases. The underlying causes are unknown, but scientists suspect that the disturbed balance of blood fats seen in patients with rheumatoid arthritis may be part of the explanation.

A research team at Karolinska Institutet has shown in a new study that a gluten-free vegan diet has a beneficial effect on cardiovascular risk factors in people with rheumatoid arthritis. The effect was seen when a group of patients who kept to a gluten-free vegan diet for a year were compared with a control group which had followed ordinary dietary advice.

Vegan food had a positive effect on symptoms of the disease, which were more pronounced in the control group. Blood levels of oxidised LDL-cholesterol, a risk factor for atherosclerosis, were also lower in the group which kept to the vegan diet. The vegan group also had higher levels of anti-PC, a type of antibody that the scientists believe has a protective effect against atherosclerosis.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


March 18, 2008, 8:40 PM CT

Scientists successfully awaken sleeping stem cells

Scientists successfully awaken sleeping stem cells
Researchers at Schepens Eye Research Institute have discovered what chemical in the eye triggers the dormant capacity of certain non-neuronal cells to transform into progenitor cells, a stem-like cell that can generate new retinal cells. The discovery, reported in the recent issue of Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science (IOVS), offers new hope to victims of diseases that harm the retina, such as macular degeneration and retinitis pigmentosa.

This study is very significant. It means it might be possible to turn on the eyes own resources to regenerate damaged retinas, without the need for transplanting outside retinal tissue or stem cells, says Dr. Dong Feng Chen, associate scientist at Schepens Eye Research Institute and Harvard Medical School, and the principal investigator of the study. If our next steps work in animal disease models, we think that clinical testing could happen fairly quickly.

Researchers have long been aware of Mller cells (which exist in great abundance in the eye) and have generally assumed that they were responsible for keeping retinal tissue protected and clear of debris. In recent years, however, scientists have reported that these cells sometimes exhibit progenitor cell behavior and re-enter the cell cycle (dividing and differentiating into other type of cells). Progenitor cells are similar to stem cells but are more mature and are more limited in the number of cells types they can become.........

Posted by: Scott      Read more         Source


March 18, 2008, 8:39 PM CT

Risk of Alzheimer's disease in their lifetime

Risk of Alzheimer's disease in their lifetime
Scientists from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) have estimated that one in six women are at risk for developing Alzheimers disease (AD) in their lifetime, while the risk for men is one in ten. These findings were released recently by the Alzheimers Association in their publication 2008 Alzheimers Disease: Facts and Figures.

Stroke and dementia are the most widely feared age-related neurological diseases, and are also the only neurological disorders listed in the ten leading causes of disease burden.

The scientists followed 2,794 participants of the Framingham Heart Study for 29 years who were without dementia. They found 400 cases of dementia of all types and 292 cases of AD. They estimated the lifetime risk of any dementia at more than one in five for women, and one in seven for men.

The realization that the lifetime risk of stroke or dementia was more than one in three in both sexes, which is higher than the lifetime risk of coronary heart disease in women, is sobering, said lead author Sudha Seshadri, MD, an associate professor of neurology at BUSM and an investigator of the Framingham Heart Study.

As per the researchers, the greater lifetime expectancy for women translates into a greater lifetime risk of several diseases.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


March 18, 2008, 8:30 PM CT

Spring training for parents?

Spring training for parents?
As cries of play ball ring out this spring, they undoubtedly will be followed by complaints of anxiety and stress from young athletes wanting to quit sports.

Parents and coaches can make youth sports a fun, learning experience or a nightmare, as per sport psychology experts at the University of Washington. But to achieve the former, sports officials and organizations must provide more training programs, particularly for parents, as per Frank Smoll and Ron Smith, who have been studying the youth sport experience and designing programs to improve it for a quarter of a century.

There is no problem in getting coaches to attend educational workshops. The challenge is convincing organizations to offer parent workshops and getting parents to come, said Smoll. A number of youth sport organizations are saying, Yes, we are interested in offering these programs, but thats it. They are not delivering them to parents.

There has been a drive in the last 20 years to teach coaches how to create a healthy psychological environment for young athletes. A culture has been created and there is an expectation that coaches will receive training. Unfortunately, too a number of moms and pops are all too willing to assume they dont have a role in youth sports. However, they should support what trained coaches are trying to do. Parents and coaches working together are a powerful combination, he said.........

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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