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August 28, 2006, 10:06 PM CT

Lowering Diabetes Risk In Youth

Lowering Diabetes Risk In Youth
As schools across the country reopen their doors this fall, hundreds of sixth graders in 42 middle schools will begin taking part in a study sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The HEALTHY study will determine if changes in school food services and physical education (PE) classes, along with activities that encourage healthy behaviors, lower risk factors for type 2 diabetes, an increasingly common disease in youth.

"The alarming rise in obesity and type 2 diabetes in all age groups poses a major public health crisis for this country. This important study is one component of a multi-faceted research agenda to address this dual epidemic, which threatens the health of our youth and the vitality of our health care system," said NIH Director Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D.

Participating schools will be randomly assigned to a program group, which implements the changes, or to a comparison group, which continues to offer food choices and PE programs typically seen in middle schools across the country. Students in the program group will have .
  • healthier choices from the cafeteria and vending machines (e.g., lower fat foods, more fruits and vegetables, and drinks with no added sugar)
  • longer, more intense periods of physical activity, and
........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


August 28, 2006, 10:02 PM CT

A switch between life and death

A switch between life and death
Cells in an embryo divide at an amazing rate to build a whole body, but this growth needs to be controlled. Otherwise the result may be defects in embryonic development or cancer in adults. Controlling growth requires that some cells divide while others die; their fates are determined by signals that are passed from molecule to molecule within the cell. Scientists at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory [EMBL] in Heidelberg have now discovered how one of these signaling pathways controls the life and death of cells in the fruit fly. The study will be published in this week's issue of the journal Cell.

The breakthrough came as Barry Thompson from Stephen Cohen's group at EMBL looked at a recently discovered signaling pathway called Hippo.

"Hippo acts as a switch between cell division and death," says Barry Thompson, "if the pathway is too active, tissues overgrow because too a number of cells divide and too few die. But until now, we hadn't found a correlation between the signals and the cellular machinery that drives growth."

Using sophisticated genetic techniques, Thompson and Cohen established that a small molecule, a microRNA called bantam, makes this link. Without bantam, tissues grow too slowly and remain smaller than normal. The amount of bantam produced by the cell directly depends on the amount of traffic on the Hippo signaling pathway, and higher levels of bantam prompt more cell division.........

Posted by: Emily      Permalink         Source


August 28, 2006, 9:46 PM CT

Video Game For Stroke Rehabilitation

Video Game For Stroke Rehabilitation A patient attempts to wipe clean four vertical bars that obscure an image on a computer display
Credit: Rutgers University
Engineers at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, have modified a popular home video game system to assist stroke patients with hand exercises, producing a technology costing less than $600 that may one day rival systems 10 times as expensive.

The Rutgers hand rehabilitation system is an example of virtual rehabilitation, which combines virtual reality computer-generated interactive visual environments in which users control actions in a lifelike way with traditional treatment techniques. Virtual rehabilitation gives therapists new tools to do their jobs more effectively and engages patients who may otherwise lack interest or motivation to complete normal exercise regimens.

The Rutgers engineers are describing their work at the fifth International Workshop on Virtual Rehabilitation taking place Aug. 29 and Aug. 30 in New York City.

"Virtual reality is showing significant promise for promoting faster and more complete rehabilitation, but the cost of a number of systems is still prohibitive for widespread deployment in outpatient clinics or patients' homes," said Grigore Burdea, professor of electrical and computer engineering and a noted inventor of virtual rehabilitation technology. "While it's essential to keep pursuing breakthrough technologies that will initially be costly, it's just as important that we find ways to make innovative therapys accessible to the a number of patients who need them".........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source


August 28, 2006, 9:41 PM CT

Serious Mental Illness In Katrina Survivors

Serious Mental Illness In Katrina Survivors New Orleans Katrina survivors take the bus to schools Houston. (Photo DOD)
As per the most comprehensive survey yet completed of mental health among Hurricane Katrina survivors from Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi, the proportion of people with a serious mental illness doubled in the months after the hurricane in comparison to a survey carried out several years before the hurricane. The study also observed that thoughts of suicide did not increase despite the dramatic increase in mental illness. The authors suggest that this low rate of suicide thoughts is due to optimistic beliefs about the success of future recovery efforts. The research, which was published recently in a special online edition of the Bulletin of the World Health Organization, was led by scientists from Harvard Medical School (HMS).

"The increase in mental illness among Katrina survivors is not surprising, but the low suicidality is a surprise," says Ronald Kessler, PhD, professor of health care policy at HMS and lead author of the study. "Our concern, though, is that this lowering of suicidal tendencies appears to be strongly linked to expectations for recovery efforts that might not be realistic."

This report is the first in a planned series based on the Hurricane Katrina Community Advisory Group, a statistically representative sample of hurricane survivors participating in ongoing tracking surveys to monitor the pace and mental health effects of hurricane recovery efforts. The project is funded by the National Institute of Mental Health and the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services for Planning and Evaluation.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


August 28, 2006, 9:25 PM CT

Lead Exposure Leads To Brain Cancer

Lead Exposure Leads To Brain Cancer Lead paint
People who are routinely exposed to lead on the job are 50 percent more likely to die from brain cancer than people who are not exposed, as per a University of Rochester Medical Center study.

More than 18,000 brain and spinal cord tumors will be diagnosed in the United States this year. Yet little is known about what causes brain cancer; the only established risk factor is radiation, as per the American Cancer Society.

Results of other studies attempting to show a clear link between lead and cancer have been inconclusive. The new data, based on information from the U.S. Census Bureau and the National Death Index, may be the largest study ever to find a lead-cancer link. In doing so it provides further evidence that widespread environmental risk factors such as lead must be explored, said study author Edwin van Wijngaarden, Ph.D.

"If we are able to help explain the cause of even 1 or 2 percent of the total number of cases, that's important," said van Wijngaarden, an assistant professor and epidemiologist in the Department of Community and Preventive Medicine at the University of Rochester.

Reported in the Sept. 1, 2006, issue of the International Journal of Cancer, the study computed the risk estimates for lead exposure and brain cancer from a census sample of 317,968 people who reported their occupations between 1979 and 1981. Van Wijngaarden was looking for evidence of an exposure-response trend, or a rise in cancer incidence or mortality linked to an exposure to a toxic substance. The goal among scientists who do this type of investigation is to identify preventable, environmental risk factors that might cause the gene mutations that lead to cancer.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source


August 28, 2006, 9:22 PM CT

Pain Control Discovery

Pain Control Discovery
A newly discovered enzyme inhibitor, identified by scientists originally looking for biological pest controls, may lead to pain relief for sufferers of arthritis and other inflammatory diseases, say scientists at the University of California, Davis. The finding, hailed by a noted inflammatory disease expert "as the most important discovery in inflammation in more than a decade," may also reduce side effects linked to the painkiller, Vioxx.

Lead author Kara Schmelzer, a post-doctoral researcher in principal investigator Bruce Hammock's lab, tested the novel compounds on rodents and found them to be as potent at a low-dose as Vioxx and Celebrex, but without the changes in blood chemistry associated with heart attacks. Vioxx and Celebrex belong to a class of drugs known as Cox-2 inhibitors. The enzyme targeted by the newly discovered inhibitors is also found in humans. (Enzymes are proteins that speed up chemical reactions.).

"The reason this is so exciting is that this is a novel way to reduce inflammation, with a combination treatment," Schmelzer said. "We're going after a new enzyme target, not going after the Cox-2 inhibitors".

Their research is reported in a paper entitled "Enhancement of Antinociception by Coadministration of Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs and Soluble Epoxide Hydrolase Inhibitors," reported in the current edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source


August 28, 2006, 9:03 PM CT

Why You Go Hairless?

Why You Go Hairless?
Researchers looking at mice may have discovered why certain people are hairier than others in what could provide clues as to the reason some men go bald prematurely.

The University of Manchester team has laid bare the molecular processes that determine which embryonic skin cells will form into hair follicles and determine the body's hair pattern.

The findings will be of interest to researchers looking at male-pattern baldness but have more direct implications for people who suffer from ectodermal dysplasia - a range of conditions where skin cells fail to develop into other tissue, including hair follicles.

"During human development, skin cells have the ability to turn into other types of cells to form hair follicles, sweat glands, teeth and nails," said Dr Denis Headon, who led the research. "Which cells are transformed into hair follicles is determined by three proteins that are produced by our genes.

"Our research has identified how one of these proteins working outside of the cell interacts at a molecular level to determine an individual's hair pattern as the embryonic skin spatially organises itself".

The team observed that cells given the genetic command to become hair follicles will send out signals to neighbouring cells to prevent them from doing likewise, so producing a specific hair pattern.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source


August 28, 2006, 8:52 PM CT

Sunscreens Can Damage Skin

Sunscreens Can Damage Skin UV filters generate reactive oxygen species in skin
Credit: K. Hanson, UC Riverside
Are sunscreens always beneficial, or can they be detrimental to users? A research team led by UC Riverside chemists reports that unless people out in the sun apply sunscreen often, the sunscreen itself can become harmful to the skin.

When skin is exposed to sunlight, ultraviolet radiation (UV) is absorbed by skin molecules that then can generate harmful compounds, called reactive oxygen species or ROS, which are highly reactive molecules that can cause "oxidative damage." For example, ROS can react with cellular components like cell walls, lipid membranes, mitochondria and DNA, leading to skin damage and increasing the visible signs of aging.

When sunscreen is applied on the skin, however, special molecules - called UV filters - contained in the sunscreen, cut down the amount of UV radiation that can penetrate the skin. Over time, though, these filters penetrate into the skin below the surface of the epidermis, the outermost layer of skin, leaving the body vulnerable to UV radiation.

Led by Kerry M. Hanson, a senior research scientist in the Department of Chemistry at UCR, the scientists report that three UV filters (octylmethoxycinnamate, benzophenone-3 and octocrylene), which are approved by the Food and Drug Administration and widely used in sunscreens, generate ROS in skin themselves when exposed to ultraviolet radiation, thus augmenting the ROS that is naturally produced. The scientists note that the additional ROS are generated only when the UV filters have penetrated into the skin and, at the same time, sunscreen has not been reapplied to prevent ultraviolet radiation from reaching these filters.........

Posted by: George      Permalink         Source


August 28, 2006, 5:18 AM CT

Obesity Leads To More Aggressive Ovarian Cancer

Obesity Leads To More Aggressive Ovarian Cancer
Whether or not a woman is obese will likely affect her outcome once she has been diagnosed with ovarian cancer, according to a new study from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

The study, published online on Aug. 28 in the American Cancer Society's journal Cancer, showed that obesity affected survival rates, shortened the length of time to recurrence of the disease, and led to earlier death from the cancer than for women diagnosed at their ideal body weight.

"This study is the first to identify weight as an independent factor in ovarian cancer in disease progression and overall survival, suggesting that there is an element in the fat tissue itself that influences the outcome of this disease in obese women," said Andrew Li, M.D., the study's principal investigator at Cedars-Sinai's Women's Cancer Research Institute at the Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute.

Ovarian cancer, one of the most lethal cancers, affects almost one in 60 women. Most will be diagnosed with advanced disease, and 70 percent will die within five years. There are several types of ovarian cancer, but tumors that begin with the surface cells of the ovary (epithelial cells) are the most common type. While previous studies have shown that obesity is a factor in the development and prognosis of cancers such as breast, uterine and colorectal, the nature of the relationship in ovarian cancers has been less well understood. Obesity is defined as a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 or above.........

Posted by: Emily      Permalink         Source


August 28, 2006, 4:25 AM CT

Diabetes Control Poorer In Blacks Compared To Whites

Diabetes Control Poorer In Blacks Compared To Whites
A recently performed meta-analysis (a systematic analysis of several studies) combining 11 separate research studies observed that blacks with diabetes have poorer control of blood sugar than whites. These research findings come from Wake Forest University School of Medicine and his colleagues.

"This lower level of control may partly explain why blacks have disproportionately higher rates of death and complications from diabetes," said Julienne Kirk, PharmD, lead author of the study published online today (Aug. 25) in Diabetes Care.

Kirk said the findings point to the need to determine why the difference in control exists and to identify ways to prevent or reduce the resulting health problems. Poor blood sugar control can result in long-term complications such as blindness, amputation and end-stage kidney failure.

The scientists analyzed studies that measured sugar control among blacks and whites using a blood test for glycosylated hemoglobin hemoglobin that has linked with glucose, or blood sugar. The lower the amounts of glycosylated hemoglobin, also called A1C, in the blood, the better the body is controlling blood sugar.

By combining the data from the 11 studies into a "meta-analysis" involving a total of 42,273 white and 14,670 black patients, they were able to detect differences that may not have shown up in each individual study. This was the first meta-analysis of racial and ethnic differences in blood sugar control among patients with diabetes.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         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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