October 31, 2008, 5:12 AM CT
Gaining too much weight during pregnancy
A study by the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research of more than 40,000 women and their babies observed that women who gained more than 40 pounds during their pregnancies were nearly twice as likely to have a heavy baby. Reported in the recent issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology,
the study observed that more than one in five women gains excessive weight during pregnancy, doubling her chances of having a baby that weighs 9 pounds or more.
"Too a number of women gain too much weight during pregnancy. This extra weight puts them at higher risk for having heavy babies, and these babies are programmed to become overweight or obese during the later part of life," said study lead author Teresa Hillier, MD, MS, an endocrinologist and senior investigator at the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research in Oregon and Hawaii. "A big baby also poses serious risks for both mom and baby at birth--for mothers, vaginal tearing, bleeding, and often C-sections, and for the babies, stuck shoulders and broken collar bones. ".
While scientists have known for some time about the link between diabetes during pregnancy and heavier birth weights, and recently have learned how maternal weight gain affects the birth weight, this is the first study to determine that women who gain excessive weight are even more likely to have heavy babies than women who are treated for gestational diabetes.........
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October 31, 2008, 5:08 AM CT
Can your doctor correctly read a critical heart test?
You have a burning chest pain and a doctor looks at a squiggly-lined graph to determine the cause. That graph, an electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG), can help the doctor decide whether you're having a heart attack or an acid attack from last night's spaghetti. Correct interpretation may prompt life-saving, emergency measures; incorrect interpretation may delay care with life-threatening consequences. Currently, there is no uniform way to teach doctors in training how to interpret an ECG or assess their competence in the interpretation.
To address the lack of uniformity, a team of physicians from the University of Maryland School of Medicine and the American College of Cardiology has developed the first Web-based training and examination program for reading ECGs. It is an interactive computer program to teach and assess the competence of doctors in training. Details of the new tool will be revealed on October 31, 2008, during the annual meeting of the Association of Program Directors in Internal Medicine, in Orlando.
"We hope this tool helps increase expertise among general practitioners in the interpretation of a very usually used screening test that's part of nearly every adult.
examination," says team leader R. Michael Benitez, M.D., associate professor of medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore and director of the Cardiovascular Fellowship Training Program. "There is no mechanism now for establishing competency among internists or family physicians or for an interim analysis of how a trainee is performing," says Dr. Benitez, who is also a heart specialist at the University of Maryland Medical Center.........
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October 29, 2008, 10:16 PM CT
Workplace obesity program shows modest effects
Environmental changes implemented at 12 Dow Chemical Company worksites helped employees' there achieve modest improvements in health risks, including weight management, decreasing tobacco use and blood pressure, says Emory University public health researcher Ron Goetzel, PhD.
Goetzel and his team will present the findings from their study Oct. 29, 2008, at the annual meeting of the American Public Health Association in San Diego.
"These are early findings from a longer and larger multi-site study that examine the effects of introducing relatively low-cost environmental and ecological interventions at the workplace aimed at curbing the growth of overweight and obesity among workers," says Goetzel, research professor of health policy and management, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University. Goetzel is also director of Emory's Institute for Health and Productivity Studies and vice president of consulting and applied research for Thomson Reuters.
"Several research centers across the country are testing this idea with different types of workers and in various industries," adds Goetzel.
The study, the first large-scale study of its kind, examined the effectiveness of environmental interventions that support individual change efforts through creation of more supportive worksite health promotion environments.........
Posted by: JoAnn Read more Source
October 29, 2008, 10:14 PM CT
Grapes may aid a bunch of heart risk factors
Could eating grapes help fight hypertension correlation to a salty diet? And could grapes calm other factors that are also correlation to heart diseases such as heart failure? A new University of Michigan Cardiovascular Center study suggests so.
The new study, reported in the recent issue of the Journal of Gerontology: Biological Sciences,
gives tantalizing clues to the potential of grapes in reducing cardiovascular risk. The effect is believed to be due to the high level of phytochemicals naturally occurring antioxidants that grapes contain.
The study waccording toformed in laboratory rats. The scientists noted that while these study results are extremely encouraging, more research needs to be done.
The scientists studied the effect of regular table grapes (a blend of green, red, and black grapes) that were mixed into the rat diet in a powdered form, as part of either a high- or low-salt diet. They performed a number of comparisons between the rats consuming the test diet and the control rats receiving no grape powder including some that received a mild dose of a common blood-pressure drug. All the rats were from a research breed that develops hypertension when fed a salty diet.
In all, after 18 weeks, the rats that received the grape-enriched diet powder had lower blood pressure, better heart function, reduced inflammation throughout their bodies, and fewer signs of heart muscle damage than the rats that ate the same salty diet but didn't receive grapes. The rats that received the blood-pressure medicine, hydrazine, along with a salty diet also had lower blood pressure, but their hearts were not protected from damage as they were in the grape-fed group.........
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October 29, 2008, 10:12 PM CT
Metal hazard from table wines
Potentially hazardous levels of metal ions are present in a number of commercially available wines. An analysis of reported levels of metals in wines from sixteen different countries, reported in the open access Chemistry Central Journal,
observed that only those from Argentina, Brazil and Italy did not pose a potential health risk owing to metals.
Professor Declan Naughton and Doctor Andrea Petrczi from Kingston University, South West London, carried out the study, using a formula developed by the United States' Environmental Protection Agency for the estimation of potential health risks linked to long-term exposure to environmental pollutants. This Target Hazard Quotient (THQ) gives an indication of risk based on published upper safe limits for various chemicals. A THQ below 1.0 is considered to be non-hazardous. As per Professor Naughton, "The THQ is a risk assessment designed to avoid underestimation. It therefore incorporates several assumptions, such as maximum absorption of ingested metal ions and lifetime exposures. In contrast, bolus dosing (e.g. binge drinking) and cross effects with other potential toxins (e.g. alcohol) are not accounted for, nor are the effects on the elderly, the young or those with a clinical condition".
The authors observed that THQ values for most wines were well above the value of 1.0 and thus are of concern. Typical potential maximum THQ values ranged from 50 to 200, with Hungarian and Slovakian wines reaching 300. THQ values for both red and white wines studied were high, having values ranging from 30 to 80 based on a 250mL glass per day. Naughton said, "These values are concerning, in that they are mainly above the THQ value of 1.0. Excess intake of metal ions is credited with pathological events such as Parkinson's disease. In addition to neurological problems, these ions are also believed to enhance oxidative damage, a key component of chronic inflammatory disease which is a suggested initiator of cancer".........
Posted by: Janet Read more Source
October 29, 2008, 9:45 PM CT
New Chemical Key That Could Unlock Hundreds Of New Antibiotics
Chemistry scientists at The University of Warwick and the John Innes Centre, have found a novel signalling molecule that could be a key that will open up hundreds of new antibiotics unlocking them from the DNA of the Streptomyces family of bacteria.
With bacterial resistance growing scientists are keen to uncover as a number of new antibiotics as possible. Some of the Streptomyces bacteria are already used industrially to produce current antibiotics and scientists have developed approaches to find and exploit new pathways for antibiotic production in the genome of the Streptomyces family. For a number of years it was thought that the relatively unstable butyrolactone compounds represented by "A-factor" were the only real signal for stimulating such pathways of possible antibiotic production but the Warwick and John Innes teams have now found a much more stable group of compounds that may have the potential to produce at least one new antibiotic compound from up to 50% of the 1000 or so known Streptomyces family of bacteria.
Colonies of bacteria such as Streptomyces naturally make antibiotics as a defence mechanism when those colonies are under stress and thus more susceptible to attack from other bacteria. The colonies need to produce a compound to spread a signal across the colony to start producing their natural antibiotic weapons.........
Posted by: Mark Read more Source
October 29, 2008, 9:42 PM CT
New drug target in obesity: Fat cells make lots of melanin
As millions of Americans gear up for the Thanksgiving holiday, a new research report published online in The FASEB Journal
(http://www.fasebj.org), may provide some relief for those leery of having a second helping. In the report, scientists describe a discovery that may allow some obese people avoid common obesity-related metabolic problems without actually losing weight: they make a common antioxidant, melanin, in excess. Even more promising is that some of the antioxidant drugs that can mimic the melanin effect are FDA-approved and available. This availability would greatly speed the development of new therapys, should they prove effective in clinical trials.
The scientists made the unexpected discovery--fat cells in obese people produce melanin in excess--when they were comparing fat cells of obese people to those of people with normal weight. After the comparison, they observed that the gene responsible for making melanin was working in "overdrive" in the fat cells of obese people. The finding was then confirmed using additional laboratory tests. Melanin is a common antioxidant responsible for skin and eye color.
Ancha Baranova, one of the study's scientists from George Mason University and INOVA Fairfax Hospital says, "Most scientific efforts aim at making obese individuals lose weight, but this has proven difficult. Hopefully, this study will lead to a drug that keeps obese individuals healthy, reducing the cost-burden to society as well as some of the stigma linked to this condition."........
Posted by: JoAnn Read more Source
October 29, 2008, 8:52 PM CT
New pancreas tumor registry
Charles J. Yeo, M.D., Samuel D. Gross Professor and Chair, Department of Surgery at Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University, announces the establishment of the new Jefferson Pancreas Tumor Registry (JPTR).
"The purpose of the registry is to further study whether pancreas cancer occurs more frequently in families with a history of the disease," said Dr. Yeo, who is the principal investigator of JPTR. "It will also be used to determine the environmental and occupational risk factors to which pancreas cancer patients have been exposed."
The JPTR modeled after the National Familial Pancreas Tumor Registry is a longitudinal study in which participants may engage in long-term follow-up and receive information regarding scientific and epidemiological breakthroughs in pancreas cancer.
Participants are asked to complete a detailed questionnaire and may be asked to submit a blood sample and/or cheek swab. The questionnaires are designed to elicit the family health history of a patient with pancreas cancer or a non-affected family member, and to document exposure to occupational and environmental factors, such as residential radon, asbestos and second-hand tobacco smoke.
Research has shown that certain rare genetic conditions are linked to an increased risk of pancreas cancer, including familial breast-ovary cancer, familial melanoma, familial colon cancer, hereditary pancreatitis and Peutz-Jegher's syndrome (a rare hereditary condition that results in gastrointestinal polyps). "While we have not identified a causative gene yet to allow predictive testing for pancreas cancer, we can offer risk assessments and surveillance via imaging, blood tests and endoscopic ultrasound for patients with a strong family history of pancreas cancer," added Dr. Yeo.........
Posted by: Sue Read more Source
October 29, 2008, 8:50 PM CT
The upside to allergies: cancer prevention
A new article in the recent issue of The Quarterly Review of Biology
provides good evidence that allergies are much more than just an annoying immune malfunction. They may protect against certain types of cancer.
The article, by scientists Paul Sherman, Erica Holland and Janet Shellman Sherman from Cornell University, suggests that allergy symptoms may protect against cancer by expelling foreign particles, some of which may be carcinogenic or carry absorbed carcinogens, from the organs most likely to come in with contact them. In addition, allergies may serve as early warning devices that let people know when there are substances in the air that should be avoided.
Medical scientists have long suspected an association between allergies and cancer, but extensive study on the subject has yielded mixed, and often contradictory, results. A number of studies have observed inverse associations between the two, meaning cancer patients tended to have fewer allergies in their medical history. Other studies have observed positive associations, and still others found no association at all.
In an attempt to explain these contradictions, the Cornell team reexamined nearly 650 prior studies from the past five decades. They observed that inverse allergy-cancer associations are far more common with cancers of organ systems that come in direct contact with matter from the external environmentthe mouth and throat, colon and rectum, skin, cervix, pancreas and glial brain cells. Likewise, only allergies linked to tissues that are directly exposed to environmental assaultseczema, hives, hay fever and animal and food allergieshad inverse relationships to cancers.........
Posted by: JoAnn Read more Source
October 28, 2008, 10:28 PM CT
Engineering technique to identify disease-causing genes
Researchers think that complex diseases such as schizophrenia, major depression and cancer are not caused by one, but a multitude of dysfunctional genes. A novel computational biology method developed by a research team led by Ali Abdi, PhD, http://www.njit.edu/news/2008/2008-367.php, associate professor in NJIT's department of electrical and computer engineering, has found a way to uncover the critical genes responsible for disease development.
The research appeared in "Fault Diagnosis Engineering of Digital Circuits Can Identify Vulnerable Molecules in Complex Cellular Pathways," the current cover article of Science Signaling
, a new publication of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, publisher of Science
"We see our research developing a novel technology holding high promises for finding key molecules that contribute to human diseases and for identifying critical targets in drug development," said Abdi. "The key to success was our collaboration among scientists with different backgrounds in engineering and medical sciences".
The researchers analyzed large cellular molecular networks whose dysfunction contributed to the development of certain complex human disorders. Molecules--genes or proteinscommunicate through interconnected pathways via different biochemical interactions, explained Abdi. Through these interactions, molecules propagate regulatory signals. The function of cells in the body is vulnerable to the dysfunction of some molecules within a cell. "In other words," he added, "different diseases may arise from the dysfunction of one or several molecules within an interconnected network system".........
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