September 12, 2006, 4:53 AM CT
Vitamin D Cuts Pancreatic Cancer Risk By Half
Consumption of Vitamin D tablets was found to cut the risk of pancreas cancer nearly in half, as per a research studyled by scientists at Northwestern and Harvard universities.
The findings point to Vitamin D's potential to prevent the disease, and is one of the first known studies to use a large-scale epidemiological survey to examine the relationship between the nutrient and cancer of the pancreas. The study, led by Halcyon Skinner, Ph.D., of Northwestern, appears in the recent issue of Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention.
The study examined data from two large, long-term health surveys and observed that taking the U.S. Recommended Daily Allowance of Vitamin D (400 IU/day) reduced the risk of pancreas cancer by 43 percent. By comparison, those who consumed less than 150 IUs per day experienced a 22 percent reduced risk of cancer. Increased consumption of the vitamin beyond 400 IUs per day resulted in no significant increased benefit.
"Because there is no effective screening for pancreas cancer, identifying controllable risk factors for the disease is essential for developing strategies that can prevent cancer," said Skinner.
"Vitamin D has shown strong potential for preventing and treating prostate cancer, and areas with greater sunlight exposure have lower incidence and mortality for prostate, breast, and colon cancers, leading us to investigate a role for Vitamin D in pancreas cancer risk. Few studies have examined this association, and we did observe a reduced risk for pancreas cancer with higher intake of Vitamin D".........
Posted by: Sue Permalink Source
September 12, 2006, 4:50 AM CT
Direct-to-consumer Drug Ads
Television ads for prescription drugs are everywhere, enticing people to ask their doctors for this drug or that one, but the effect this type of ad has on American healthcare may be more complicated than simply inducing patients to choose one brand or the other, as per a team of researchers.
"Up until 1997, manufacturers could not say both the product's name and what it was used for, in a TV ad," says Andrew N. Kleit, professor of energy and environmental economics and member of Penn State's Center for Health Care and Policy Research.
Since 1997, direct-to-consumer ads have flourished, even with the requirement that the ads must list all the potential side effects and counter indications. Some critics suggest that the ads get people to take the medications when they do not need them or are not good for them. Others argue that the ads are important to tell people that a medical solution to the problem is now available. Still others suggest that the ads make people more health conscious and spur them on to get the therapy that they need, no matter which medicine they eventually use. However, little research covers the effects of these television advertisements.
Kleit and a team of scientists from Medical University of South Carolina including project principal investigator David Bradford, professor, health administration and policy; Paul J. Nietert, assistant professor, biostatistics, bioinformatics and epidemiology; Terrence Steyer, assistant professor, family medicine; Thomas McIlwain, assistant professor health administration and policy and Steven Ornstein, department of family medicine, investigated how drug ads for two osteoarthritis drugs influenced patients' medical visits and doctors prescribing the drug.........
Posted by: Janet Permalink Source
September 11, 2006, 10:24 PM CT
Allocating HIV drugs to South African cities
The most effective way to control the AIDS pandemic in hard-hit South Africa would be to concentrate the allocation of scarce antiretroviral drugs in urban areas. This, however, would not be the most ethical approach, as per an innovative new study from the UCLA AIDS Institute.
The article is scheduled to be published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences online Early Edition http://www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.0609689103 during the week of Sept. 11-15.
Using data from the KwaZulu-Natal province for their parameters, scientists from UCLA and the University of California, San Francisco, devised a mathematical model to predict the impact of drug allocation strategies that the South African government is implementing to treat 500,000 people by 2008. These data included birth rates, natural death rates and death rates stemming from AIDS.
They looked at three drug allocation strategies: one that would allocate antiretroviral drugs only to the city of Durban and two making them available in both urban and rural areas.
Of those, the Durban-only strategy would be the most effective in preventing new infections, reducing them by up to 46 percent -- amounting to preventing an additional 15,000 infections by 2008 -- compared with the two strategies that would include both urban and rural areas. The strategy also would avert the greatest number of deaths from AIDS and generate the least amount of drug resistance.........
Posted by: Mark Permalink Source
September 11, 2006, 10:20 PM CT
An Artificial Cornea In Sight
If eyes are "the windows of the soul," corneas are the panes in those windows. They shield the eye from dust and germs. They also act as the eye's outermost lens, contributing up to 75 percent of the eye's focusing power. On Sept. 11 in San Francisco at the annual meeting of the American Chemical Society, chemical engineer Curtis W. Frank will present a novel biomimetic material that's finding its way into artificial corneas. It's a hydrogel, or polymer that holds a lot of water. That material may promise a new view for at least 10 million people worldwide who are blind due to damaged or diseased corneas or a number of millions more who are nearsighted or farsighted due to misshapen corneas.
, the material can swell to a water content of 80 percent--about the same as biological tissues. It's made of two interwoven networks of hydrogels. One network, made of polyethylene glycol molecules, resists the accumulation of surface proteins and inflammation. The other network is made of molecules of polyacrylic acid, a relative of the superabsorbent material in diapers.
"Think of a fishnet, but think of a 3-D fishnet," says Frank, the W. M. Keck, Sr. Professor in Engineering and a professor, by courtesy, of chemistry and of materials science and engineering. "It's a strong, stretchy material." That makes it able to survive suturing during surgery. The biocompatible hydrogel is transparent and permeable to nutrients, including glucose, the cornea's favorite food.........
Posted by: Mike Permalink Source
September 11, 2006, 10:12 PM CT
Wearing A Helmet Puts Cyclists At Risk
Drivers pass closer when overtaking cyclists wearing helmets than when overtaking bare-headed cyclists, increasing the risk of a collision, the research has found.
Dr Ian Walker, a traffic psychology expert from the University of Bath, used a bicycle fitted with a computer and an ultrasonic distance sensor to record data from over 2,500 overtaking motorists in Salisbury and Bristol.
Dr Walker, who was struck by a bus and a truck in the course of the experiment, spent half the time wearing a cycle helmet and half the time bare-headed. He was wearing the helmet both times he was struck.
He observed that drivers were as much as twice as likely to get especially close to the bicycle when he was wearing the helmet.
Across the board, drivers passed an average of 8.5 cm (3 1/3 inches) closer with the helmet than without.
The research has been accepted for publication in the journal Accident Analysis & Prevention.
"This study shows that when drivers overtake a cyclist, the margin for error they leave is affected by the cyclist's appearance," said Dr Walker, from the University's Department of Psychology.
"By leaving the cyclist less room, drivers reduce the safety margin that cyclists need to deal with obstacles in the road, such as drain covers and potholes, as well as the margin for error in their own judgements.........
Posted by: JoAnn Permalink Source
September 11, 2006, 10:06 PM CT
Diagnostic Method For Multiple Myeloma
A researcher at the University of Navarra, Borja Sáez Ochoa, has proposed a new genetic diagnostic method for multiple myeloma (MM), a type of bone marrow cancer, which permits the detection of this disease in earlier stages.
The dissertation of this biologist, produced in the Department of Genetics of the School of Sciences of the University of Navarra, and in the Institute of Human Genetics of the University Hospital of Schleswig-Holstein, en Kiel (Gera number of), is oriented towards the study of the genetic base of this cancer, and the posterior development of cytogenetic diagnostic strategies for the detection of alterations with prognostic value.
For this purpose, he has analyzed, by means of statistical methods, the cytogenetic changes in a group of patients with MM. This methodology haccording tomitted the discovery of associations between specific chromosomal changes, and thus the description of a new classification of the disease. In addition, the technique of hybridization in situ with fluorescence allowed him to identify new recurrent genetic changes that are involved in the appearance of this pathology.A disease linked to old age
Multiple myeloma is a disease which primarily affects persons above 60 years of age. In 2001 in Spain, 1716 new cases were detected, and 1554 patients with the disease died, with 20 of these in Navarra. As per Borja Sáez, with the new methods of diagnosis developed through this research project, such as the FISH and FICTION strategies, we will be able to detect genetic alterations rapidly and easily in the early stages of the disease, permitting its early diagnosis. In addition, he emphasized that these procedures will promote the description of molecular targets for future, more effective therapys of MM.........
Posted by: Janet Permalink Source
September 11, 2006, 9:59 PM CT
Do Not Rely Only On What Young Athletes Say
When it comes to managing concussions in sports, relying only on an athlete's self report of symptoms is inadequate and likely to result in under-diagnosing the injury and the athlete unsafely returning to play following the concussion, warn doctors at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) Sports Medicine Concussion Program. Along with assessing symptoms, the doctors stress, using computer-based neurocognitive function testing is crucial for accurate, objective evaluation of concussion and determining a safe return-to-play time for the athlete.
"Because of the tendency of some athletes to under-report their symptoms, presumably in an attempt to speed their return to the playing field, neurocognitive testing following suspected concussion is especially important in keeping kids safe," said Mark Lovell, Ph.D., director of the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program. Research has shown at least one in 10 high school or college athletes sustains a concussion each year.
Dr. Lovell's alert is based on a recent UPMC study of concussed high school and college athletes that showed unreliability of the athletes' self-reported symptoms and demonstrated the value of neurocognitive testing in significantly increasing the capacity to detect post-concussion abnormalities, decreasing the potential of exposure to additional injury. Prior research has shown that young concussed athletes who are returned to play too soon, before their brains have healed, are highly vulnerable to further injury, including post-concussion syndrome, or in rare cases, fatal second-impact syndrome. The current study is published in the upcoming issue of the American Journal of Sports Medicine, available online at www.ajsm.org
Posted by: Daniel Permalink Source
September 11, 2006, 9:44 PM CT
Action To Avoid Heart Attack
Scientists working to decode chemical SOS signals sent out by disease-damaged hearts believe they now know better when to aggressively clear clogged arteries and when medical procedures may be unnecessary and even harmful.
The research, led by Uppsala University in Sweden, appears in the Sept. 19 edition of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
As per the research, high levels of two proteins in the bloodstream indicate that patients with acute coronary syndromes chest pain caused by lack of blood to the heart are at high risk of having potentially fatal heart attacks. Taking aggressive action to treat their blocked arteries will reduce their risk of dying within one year.
Conversely, patients with low levels of these proteins, also called biomarkers, are not at high risk for deadly heart attacks and may even be harmed by having angioplasty or bypass surgery to treat blocked arteries.
The proteins troponin-T (TnT) and N-terminal pro-B-type natriuretic peptide (NT-proBNP) are just two of the biomarkers being studied by physicians and researchers around the world in an effort to improve therapy for a wide range of illnesses.
"Biomarkers are analyzed in blood samples taken from patients when they are admitted to the hospital," said Stefan James, MD, PhD, senior consultant heart specialist and catheterization laboratory director for Uppsala University Academic Hospital's Department of Cardiology. "With a better understanding of these markers, we will be able to assess risk for individual patients more accurately.........
Posted by: Daniel Permalink Source
September 11, 2006, 8:45 PM CT
Ulcerative Colitis Responds To Arthritis Drug
In good news for patients with stubborn cases of ulcerative colitis, a serious intestinal disorder, a new research review suggests that the drug infliximab can be a useful alternative if other therapys don't work.
The drug is currently used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn's disease.
"For people with active ulcerative colitis who do not respond to corticosteroids or immunosuppressive agents, infliximab is effective in inducing clinical remission, inducing clinical response, promoting mucosal healing and reducing the need for colectomy, at least in the short term," said review co-author Dr. Anthony Kwaku Akobeng.
Akobeng, a gastroenterologist at Manchester Children's University Hospitals in England, and his colleagues examined seven randomized controlled studies comprising 860 patients that reviewed infliximab as a therapy for ulcerative colitis.
The review of studies appears in the latest issue of The Cochrane Library, a publication of The Cochrane Collaboration, an international organization that evaluates medical research. Systematic reviews like this one draw evidence-based conclusions about medical practice after considering both the content and quality of existing medical trials on a topic.
"Infliximab is another option if steroids fail," said Peter Higgins, M.D., an assistant professor in gastroenterology at the University of Michigan Medical Center in Ann Arbor.........
Posted by: Sue Permalink Source
September 11, 2006, 8:25 PM CT
Insights For Antibiotic Drug Development
University of Minnesota and University of Michigan scientists have discovered a new method of developing antibiotics, an important step in fighting the growing number of drug-resistant infections.
In two articles reported in the current online issue of Nature Chemical Biology, scientists describe an approach that is more efficient--and environmentally friendly--in developing new antibiotics, those needed to kill the increasing number of infections resistant to multiple drugs.
"We're striving to create new drugs that can have a positive impact on the growing threat of infectious diseases," says Robert Fecik, Ph.D., an assistant professor of Medicinal Chemistry at the University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy and one of the lead authors of the study. "This type of research can help us make new antibiotic molecules".
Officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have called antibiotic resistance one of the world's most pressing public health problems. Once only found in hospitals, these "superbugs" are now being found in community settings, including schools, nursing homes, and locker rooms.
These infections don't respond to common antibiotics such as erythromycin, which belong to a ring-shaped class of antibiotics called macrolides.........
Posted by: Mark Permalink Source