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February 7, 2006, 10:34 PM CT

Inequality In Recreational Resources Boosts Weight Gain

Inequality In Recreational Resources Boosts Weight Gain
In general, minorities and people with lower incomes have much less access than wealthier people to recreational facilities, a new University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill investigation concludes. The result is that they are less physically active and are more likely to be overweight.

That's not the only reason that people with less money in this country often are less active and too heavy, but it appears to be a key factor, the scientists said. The long-term consequences are poorer health and shorter lives.

In their study of some 20,000 U.S. teens, the scientists explored whether resources available for physical activity were distributed relatively equally across all segments of the population, said Dr. Penny Gordon-Larsen, assistant professor of nutrition, a department jointly housed within UNC's schools of public health and medicine. They particularly wanted to learn whether minority and low-income groups - in which obesity levels are high and exercise levels low - had access to such resources to about the same degree as people in richer communities.

"We expected to find that private, fee facilities would be more common in more affluent areas, but the extent and magnitude of the lack of access in poorer communities was very surprising," Gordon-Larsen said. "Even the types of facilities we think of as most equitably allocated, like YMCAs, public parks and youth organizations, were significantly less common in poorer areas".........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink


February 7, 2006, 10:24 PM CT

Parental Alcoholism Substance Abuse In Children

Parental Alcoholism Substance Abuse In Children
The impacts of parental alcoholism in children are well known, especially the alcohol consumption habits of children of alcoholics (COA's). However, until now, little research has been conducted on the connection between parental alcoholism and illicit drug use in emerging adults. A new study by David Flora, PhD of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (now at York University), and Laurie Chassin, PhD of Arizona State University, shows that parental alcoholism represents a risk factor for maladaptive behaviors in adulthood that extend beyond alcoholism and into illicit drug use. The study appears in the current issue of Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, published by the American Psychological Association (APA).

This research identifies parental alcoholism as an important risk factor for escalated use of both alcohol and other drugs during young adulthood. Specifically, parental alcoholism has been associated with both an early onset of drinking and with persistent alcohol abuse throughout adulthood. Currently 1 in 4 children (under the age of 18) grow up in a household affected by alcoholism as per the National Association of Children of Alcoholics. That means 1 in 4 emerging adults and young adults will be faced with an increased risk for alcoholism and illicit drug use, simply because of exposure to an alcoholic parent.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink


February 7, 2006, 9:52 PM CT

Viruses That Can Make Us Fat

Viruses That Can Make Us Fat
There is a lot of good advice to help us avoid becoming obese, such as "Eat less," and "Exercise." But here's a new and surprising piece of advice based on a promising area of obesity research: "Wash your hands".

There is accumulating evidence that certain viruses may cause obesity, in essence making obesity contagious, as per Leah D. Whigham, the lead researcher in a new study, "Adipogenic potential of multiple human adenoviruses in vivo and in vitro in animals," in the recent issue of the American Journal of Physiology-Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology published by the American Physiological Society.

The study, by Whigham, Barbara A. Israel and Richard L. Atkinson, of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, found that the human adenovirus Ad-37 causes obesity in chickens. This finding builds on studies that two related viruses, Ad-36 and Ad-5, also cause obesity in animals.

Moreover, Ad-36 has been associated with human obesity, leading scientists to suspect that Ad-37 also may be implicated in human obesity. Whigham said more research is needed to find out if Ad-37 causes obesity in humans. One study was inconclusive, because only a handful of people showed evidence of infection with Ad-37 - not enough people to draw any conclusions, she said. Ad-37, Ad-36 and Ad-5 are part of a family of approximately 50 viruses known as human adenoviruses.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink


February 6, 2006, 11:39 PM CT

Memory Problems At Menopause

Memory Problems At Menopause
Women who feel that they become more forgetful as menopause approaches shouldn't just "fuhgetabout it": There may be something to their own widespread reports that they're more likely to forget things as menopause approaches, say researchers who reported results from a small study today at the annual meeting of the International Neuropsychological Society in Boston.

The team from the University of Rochester Medical Center found that the issue is not really impaired memory. Instead, the team found a link between complaints of forgetfulness and the way middle-aged, stressed women learn or "encode" new information.

"This is not what most people think of traditionally when they think of memory loss," said co-author Mark Mapstone, Ph.D., assistant professor of Neurology. "It feels like a memory problem, but the cause is different. It feels like you can't remember, but that's because you never really learned the information in the first place".

The findings come from Mapstone and Miriam Weber, Ph.D., memory experts at the University's Memory Disorders Clinic who are seeing more and more middle-aged women who say they are having problems with forgetfulness.

The team found nothing to support the idea that such women are on their way to developing Alzheimer's disease, and they didn't find any problem with what most people consider "memory." But they did make a finding that helps explain why women in their 40s and 50s frequently say they're having memory problems: It's possible that their changing moods and hectic lives make it harder to keep track of everything.........

Posted by: Emily      Permalink


February 6, 2006, 11:33 PM CT

Connection Between Dementia And Cancer

Connection Between Dementia And Cancer
By expressing a protein associated with Alzheimer's disease in the brain of the fruit fly, scientists have demonstrated an intriguing link between neuronal death and proteins previously associated with cancer.

The findings are reported by Vik Khurana, Mel Feany, and his colleagues from Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, and the Burnham Institute.

Neurons in the brain generally do not divide. It is therefore perplexing that in Alzheimer's disease, and other dementias associated with a protein called tau, dying neurons actually re-express proteins normally seen during cell division or in cancer. It has previously been unclear whether such cell-division proteins cause neuronal death, protect neurons from death, or are irrelevant.

In the present work, the scientists used a fruit-fly model of Alzheimer's disease to examine the relationship of cell-division proteins to neurodegeneration. The power of this model, which recapitulates key features of the human disease, lies in the ability to use genetic tools to establish a causal correlation between a molecular pathway and neuronal death. Khurana and his colleagues found that, as in human disease, abnormal expression of cell-cycle proteins accompanied neuronal death in their fly model. Most importantly, loss of neurons could be prevented when the cell cycle was genetically blocked or when flies were fed anticancer drugs. Cell-cycle activation depended upon a hyperactive cell growth molecule, TOR (target of rapamycin), also known to be abnormally activated in Alzheimer's disease. By establishing these causal connections, this study suggests that anticancer drugs are potential therapies for Alzheimer's disease and related disorders. More broadly, the results point to an intriguing correlation between cancer and dementia, two of the most important diseases in the elderly.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink


February 6, 2006, 7:32 AM CT

Double Your Quit Rate By Wearing Nicotine Patch

Double Your Quit Rate By Wearing Nicotine Patch
Smokers trying to quit the habit may double their success rate by wearing a nicotine patch two weeks before their actual quit date, as per a Duke University Medical Center study. Currently, the patch's label warns against smoking while wearing the patch.

In a study of 96 smokers attempting to quit, 50 percent of those who wore the patch two weeks previous to quitting had stopped at four weeks. Only 23 percent of smokers who wore a placebo patch two weeks previous to quitting had stopped after four weeks. The same pattern appeared to continue for six months, eventhough a number of of the study participants were no longer reachable to verify this trend, said the researchers.

If these findings are confirmed by a larger study currently underway, the scientists said the Food and Drug Administration may need to re-evaluate its current warning against smoking while wearing the nicotine patch. Moreover, said the researchers, such confirmation would lead them to advocate a change in clinical practice in smoking cessation programs, to include use of the patches before cessation.

Results of the study, funded by National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), are reported in the Feb. 1, 2006, issue of the journal Nicotine and Tobacco Research.

The Duke scientists said that wearing a nicotine patch before a smoker attempts to quit provides a steady, consistent source of nicotine that interrupts the rapid reward of inhaling nicotine via cigarettes.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink


February 5, 2006, 10:30 PM CT

Pregnancy With Female Fetus Causes More Asthma Attacks

Women with asthma who are carrying a female fetus are more likely to experience worse asthma symptoms than asthmatic women carrying a male fetus, scientists at Yale School of Medicine report in the recent issue of American Journal of Epidemiology.

"This is one of the first and largest studies to investigate the effect of fetal sex on the severity of the mother's asthma, and one of the largest to investigate the effect of fetal sex on any disease of the mother," said senior author Michael B. Bracken, Susan Dwight Bliss Professor of Epidemiology in the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at Yale School of Medicine.

The scientists monitored 702 pregnant women throughout southern New England who were trained to assess their lung function for 10-day intervals at selected points in pregnancy. Lung function and a large number of other factors that might influence severity of the mother's asthma were recorded automatically.

Asthma worsened in mothers with either male or female fetuses until about 30 weeks gestation, after which there was an improvement in lung function. However, throughout pregnancy, mothers with a male fetus had 10 percent better lung function.

"This difference due to sex is potentially important but needs to be placed in the context of other factors which have a greater impact on the severity of mother's asthma, including inadequate medical management of asthma symptoms, and whether the mother was a smoker or not," said Bracken, who also co-directs the Yale Center for Perinatal, Pediatric and Environmental Epidemiology.........

Posted by: Emily      Permalink


February 2, 2006, 10:22 PM CT

Children and Medicines

Children and Medicines
Keeping medications out of the easy grasp of children four and younger in the home is a significant health issue in the United States because they are more likely to be hospitalized for unintentionally swallowing medications than other causes of unintentional injury, as per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in a report released recently.

From 2001-2003, an estimated 53,500 children four years and younger were treated in hospital emergency departments each year after swallowing medications not intended for them or given in error. Almost three-fourths of these children were one to two years old and 75 percent of the incidents occurred in the home. The report also indicated that children four and younger who are treated for medicine exposure in the emergency room are nearly four times more likely to be hospitalized or transferred to specialized care than for other unintentional injuries.

National estimates for this study were based upon data from 3,600 sample cases from U.S. hospitals. About 40 percent of the ingestions involved common over-the-counter drugs like acetaminophen, cold and cough medications, non-steroid anti-inflammatory medications, antihistamines, and vitamins. Prescription drugs accounted for most of the remaining medicine ingestions. The types of medications most usually leading to hospitalization or transfer to specialized care were anti-seizure medications, calcium channel blockers, anti-depressants, and oral diabetes medications.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink


February 2, 2006, 10:14 PM CT

Change in Recommendations for Antivirals

Change in Recommendations for Antivirals
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced recently that clinicians should not prescribe two common antivirals (amantadine and rimantadine) to treat or prevent influenza during the 2005-2006 influenza season. Laboratory testing by CDC on the predominant strain of influenza (H3N2) currently circulating in the United States shows that it is resistant to these drugs.

CDC has tested 120 influenza A (H3N2) virus isolates and found that 109 (or 91 percent) were resistant to amantadine and rimantadine. This represents a sharp increase from last year when only 11 percent of isolates tested were resistant and 1.9 percent were resistant the year before that. However, all H3 and H1 influenza viruses tested to date are susceptible to the other usually used antivirals (oseltamivir and zanamivir).

"This is certainly unexpected news as we now have to remove a few tools from our tool box that we use to combat influenza," said CDC Director Dr. Julie Gerberding. "Thankfully we still have antivirals available that work but this new development serves as a reminder of the importance of getting people vaccinated to prevent them from getting influenza in the first place".

During this period CDC recommends oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and zanamivir (Relenza) be prescribed if an antiviral medicine is needed for the therapy or prevention of influenza.........

Posted by: Mark      Permalink


February 2, 2006, 10:04 PM CT

Can Snoring Ruin a Marriage?

Can Snoring Ruin a Marriage?
The husband snores. The wife nudges him to flip over. Both wake up feeling grouchy the next morning. It's a common occurrence that may have more of an impact on the marriage than most couples think.

The Sleep Disorders Center at Rush University Medical Center is conducting a scientific sleep study to evaluate how a husband's sleep apnea impacts the wife's quality of sleep and the couple's marital satisfaction.

"This is a frequent problem within marriages that nobody is paying enough attention to," said Rosalind Cartwright, PhD, founder of the Sleep Disorders Center at Rush. "Couples who struggle with sleep apnea have a high-divorce rate. Can we save marriages by treating sleep apnea? It's a question we hope to answer".

The Married Couples Sleep Study is evaluating 10 couples in which the male has been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea. After completing surveys about sleepiness, marriage satisfaction, and quality of life, the couple spends the night in the sleep lab where technicians determine each partner's quality and quantity of sleep. Following two weeks of therapy, the diagnostic tests and surveys are repeated.

"Our early results are showing that the wife's sleep is indeed deprived due to the husband's noisy nights. This is not a mild problem. The lack of sleep for both partners puts a strain on the marriage and creates a hostile and tense situation," said Cartwright.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink



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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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