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November 21, 2008, 5:46 AM CT

Screening for colorectal cancer detects unrecognized disease

Screening for colorectal cancer detects unrecognized disease
Screening for colorectal cancer detects four out of ten cancers and should be carefully designed to be more effective, as per a research studypublished recently on bmj.com.

About one in 20 people in the UK develop bowel cancer during their lifetime. It is the third most common cancer in the UK and the second leading cause of cancer deaths in Europe and the US.

Prior screening trials have show that faecal occult blood testing can reduce the risk of dying by about 16%. More than 50 countries have introduced screening programmes, but their effectiveness in a public health setting is not clear.

Dr Nea Malila and his colleagues from the Finnish Cancer Registry examined whether Finland's national colorectal cancer screening programme could detect unrecognised disease. They studied 106 000 people aged 60󈞬 to test how sensitive screening was in identifying unrecognised disease at three levelsthe faecal occult blood test (test to detect small traces of blood in faeces that may indicate disease at an early stage), screening episode, and the national screening programme.

A national screening programme for colorectal cancer began in Finland in 2004 as a public health policy in 22 volunteer municipalities and grew to 161 municipalities by 2006.........

Posted by: Sue      Read more         Source


November 21, 2008, 5:43 AM CT

Fall babies: Born to wheeze?

Fall babies: Born to wheeze?
It is said that timing is everything, and that certainly appears to be true for autumn infants. Children who are born four months before the height of cold and flu season have a greater risk of developing childhood asthma than children born at any other time of year, as per new research.

The study analyzed the birth and medical records of more than 95,000 children and their mothers in Tennessee to determine whether date of birth in relationship to the peak in winter respiratory viruses posed a higher risk for developing early childhood asthma. They observed that while having clinically significant bronchiolitis at any age during infancy was linked to an increased risk of childhood asthma, for autumn babies, that risk was the greatest.

"Infant age at the winter virus peak following birth independently predicts asthma development, with the highest risk being for infants born approximately four months previous to the peak, which is represented by birth in the fall months in the Northern hemisphere. Birth during this time conferred a nearly 30 percent increase in odds of developing asthma," said Tina V. Hartert, M.D., M.P.H., associate professor of medicine and director of the center for Asthma Research at Vanderbilt University, and principal investigator of the study.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


November 19, 2008, 8:42 PM CT

How brain makes sense of natural scenes

How brain makes sense of natural scenes
Computational neuroresearchers at Carnegie Mellon University have developed a computational model that provides insight into the function of the brain's visual cortex and the information processing that enables people to perceive contours and surfaces, and understand what they see in the world around them.

A type of visual neuron known as simple cells can detect lines, or edges, but the computation they perform is insufficient to make sense of natural scenes, said Michael S. Lewicki, associate professor in Carnegie Mellon's Computer Science Department and the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition. Edges often are obscured by variations in the foreground and background surfaces within the scene, he said, so more sophisticated processing is necessary to understand the complete picture. But little is known about how the visual system accomplishes this feat.

In a paper published online by the journal Nature, Lewicki and his graduate student, Yan Karklin, outline their computational model of this visual processing. The model employs an algorithm that analyzes the myriad patterns that compose natural scenes and statistically characterizes those patterns to determine which patterns are most likely linked to each other.

The bark of a tree, for instance, is composed of a multitude of different local image patterns, but the computational model can determine that all these local images represent bark and are all part of the same tree, as well as determining that those same patches are not part of a bush in the foreground or the hill behind it.........

Posted by: Daniel      Read more         Source


November 19, 2008, 8:24 PM CT

More Data On Key Genes In Diabetes

More Data On Key Genes In Diabetes
One of the most reliable indicators to predict that a person will develop type 2 diabetes is the presence of insulin resistance. Insulin is produced in the pancreas and is the hormone responsible for ensuring that glucose reaches several tissues and organs in the body, such as muscles. Typically insulin resistance is characterized by the lack of tissue response to insulin and is counteracted by a greater production of insulin by the pancreas. When the pancreas does not have the capacity to produce the amount of insulin mandatory for tissues to receive glucose, glucose in blood increases to pathological levels and the individual goes from being insulin-resistant to suffering type 2 diabetes. Eventhough it is unclear what makes people develop insulin resistance, several studies report that resistant subjects show functional alterations in mitochondria. These intracellular organelles are responsible for transforming glucose into energy that the cell will then use to perform several functions. A study performed by the researcher Marc Liesa, a member of Antoni Zorzano's lab at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona), describes a new control pathway of a gene responsible for mitochrondrial fusion, a process that contributes to the correct function of these organelles. This pathway could therefore be a key component in the development of insulin resistance. The results of this study have been reported in the scientific journal PloS One.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


November 19, 2008, 8:20 PM CT

Ban on fast food TV advertising

Ban on fast food TV advertising
A ban on fast food advertisements in the United States could reduce the number of overweight children by as much as 18 percent, as per a new study being published this month in the Journal of Law and Economics The study also reports that eliminating the tax deductibility linked to television advertising would result in a reduction of childhood obesity, though in smaller numbers.

The study was conducted by scientists from the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) with funding from the National Institutes of Health. NBER economists Shin-Yi Chou of Lehigh University, Inas Rashad of Georgia State University, and Michael Grossman of City University of New York Graduate Center co-authored the paper, which measures the number of hours of fast food television advertising messages viewed by children on a weekly basis.

The authors observed that a ban on fast food television advertisements during children's programming would reduce the number of overweight children ages 3-11 by 18 percent, while also lowering the number of overweight adolescents ages 12-18 by 14 percent. The effect is more pronounced for males than females.

Though a ban would be effective, the authors also question whether such a high degree of government involvementand the costs of implementing such policiesis a practical option. Should the U.S. pursue that path, they would follow Sweden, Norway and Finland as the only countries to have banned commercial sponsorship of children's programs.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


November 19, 2008, 8:06 PM CT

Primary care provides better outcomes at lower cost

Primary care provides better outcomes at lower cost
A white paper, How is a Shortage of Primary Care Physicians Affecting the Quality and Cost of Medical Care?, released recently by the American College of Physicians (ACP) documents the value of primary care by reviewing 20 years of research. An annotated bibliography based on a literature review of more than 100 studies documents the evidence to support the critical importance of primary care in providing patients with better outcomes at lower cost, and the urgency of the need to prevent shortages of primary care physicians.

"The evidence for the value of primary care is clear," said Jeffery P. Harris, MD, FACP, president of ACP. "It manifests itself in better quality of life, more productive longevity, and lower costs as a result of reduced hospitalization, improved prevention and better coordination of chronic disease care. The nation must take immediate steps to address the issues that threaten primary care's survival."

The ACP paper notes that policymakers are more likely to take the steps necessary to assure a sufficient primary care workforce if they are aware of the research on the importance of primary care to a high-performing health care system. Featuring more than 100 studies, the white paper provides an overview of current trends in the primary care doctor workforce, the importance and value of primary care, and the growing demand for primary care services in the United States.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


November 19, 2008, 7:36 PM CT

Track your fitness with new cell phone applications

Track your fitness with new cell phone applications
University of Washington
UbiFit display on a cell phone. Different colored flowers grow for different activities, and butterflies appear when the user reaches weekly goals.

Planning on gobbling a few extra treats this holiday season? Soon, your cell phone may be able to help you maintain your exercise routine and keep the pounds off over winter months, without your having to lift a finger to keep track.

Scientists at the University of Washington and Intel have created two new cell phone applications, dubbed UbiFit and UbiGreen, to automatically track workouts and green transportation. The programs display motivational pictures on the phone's background screen that change the more the user works out or uses eco-friendly means of transportation.

The applications are designed to change people's behavior for the better, said Sunny Consolvo, a recently graduated UW Information School doctoral student and one of UbiFit's creators. In a three-month field experiment, people using UbiFit with the background display kept up their workout routines over the winter holidays, a period when people typically slack off on exercise, while people without the display let their regimen slide.

UbiFit and UbiGreen are part of a larger project at the UW to use mobile computing in everyday activities and long-term goals such as fitness, said project leader James Landay, UW computer science and engineering associate professor. "You can't get fit in a short period of time in one place," he said. "It happens long-term, in a number of different places and ways."........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


November 19, 2008, 6:15 PM CT

Causes of bone loss in breast cancer survivors

Causes of bone loss in breast cancer survivors
Osteoporosis is a growing concern among breast cancer survivors and their doctors, because certain cancer drugs can cause bone loss.

But a new study has observed that cancer drugs aren't the only culprits. Among 64 patients with breast cancer referred to a bone health clinic, 78 percent had at least one other cause of bone loss, including vitamin D deficiency, excessive calcium excretion in urine and an overactive parathyroid gland.

"Doctors evaluating patients with breast cancer for possible bone loss should look further than cancer drugs," said Dr. Pauline Camacho, lead author of the study in the Journal of Clinical Oncology Camacho is an associate professor in the department of medicine, division of endocrinology and metabolism, Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.

A co-author of the study, Dr. Kathy Albain, said breast cancer survivors "are just like the normal population as they age in that bone loss can be due to a number of treatable causes." Albain is a professor in the Department of Medicine, division of hematology/oncology at Stritch.

Prior studies have observed that chemotherapy drugs can cause bone loss. Studies also have observed that a class of breast cancer drugs called aromatase inhibitors can decrease bone mineral density and increase the risk of fractures in postmenopausal women. Aromatase inhibitors decrease the body's production of estrogen. While estrogen feeds cancer, it also protects against osteoporosis. Aromatase inhibitors include letrozole (trade name, Femara), anastrazole (Arimidex) and exemestane (Aromasin).........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


November 18, 2008, 5:37 AM CT

Individualists more likely to be problem drinkers

Individualists more likely to be problem drinkers
What makes residents of certain states or countries more likely to consume more alcohol? According to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research, high levels of individualism lead to more problem drinking.

"We looked at the extent to which consumer levels of individualism (vs. collectivism) were related to their beer and problem alcohol consumption," write authors Yinlong Zhang and L.J. Shrum (both University of Texas-San Antonio).

"We found that the higher a region scored on valuing individualism, the greater their beer and alcohol consumption, and this was true even when taking into account the effects of other variables such as income, climate, gender, and religion."

The researchers first used archival data to conduct comparisons of beer and alcohol consumption. They compared countries and compared states within the United States. They found that individualism, on a whole-country basis, could significantly predict alcohol consumption. In the United States, individualism correlated with teen drinking, teen heavy drinking, and adult binge drinking.

The researchers went on to manipulate the cultural orientation of individuals in the study. "We did this by simply asking people to either think and then write about enjoying their own life (independent self-construal) or think and then write about enjoying relationships with family and friends (interdependent selfconstrual)," the authors wrote. "We found that people who were temporarily induced to have an independent self-construal were more receptive to immediate beer consumption than were people who were temporarily induced to have an interdependent self-construal." Study participants did not actually consume beer; they merely indicated whether they felt like it.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


November 18, 2008, 5:20 AM CT

Anorexia impairs adolescent bone development

Anorexia impairs adolescent bone development
Children and teenagers with even mild cases of anorexia exhibit abnormal bone structure, as per a new study appearing in the recent issue of Radiology and presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).

"Adolescence is the most critical period for growth of bone mass, and the onset of anorexia interferes with that process," said Miriam A. Bredella, M.D., musculoskeletal radiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital and assistant professor of radiology at Harvard Medical School in Boston. "Impairment of bone development may permanently alter bone structure and increase the risk of fractures and osteoporosis in adult life".

Anorexia is an eating disorder characterized by emaciation, distorted body image and intense fear of gaining weight. People with the disorder are obsessed with weight control and often perceive themselves as overweight, even when they are dangerously thin. The disorder primarily occurs among young women and affects one in 100 adolescent girls, as per the National Women's Health Information Center.

Among the a number of health problems linked to anorexia is bone loss. Typically, dual energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) is used to test bone mineral density in adolescents with anorexia.

Dr. Bredella and his colleagues set out to determine if alterations in bone structure occur before significant decreases in bone mineral density become evident.........

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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