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March 21, 2006, 8:55 PM CT

Warming May Increase Malaria Risk

Warming May Increase Malaria Risk
Could global warming be contributing to the resurgence of malaria in the East African Highlands?.

A widely-cited study published a few years ago said no, but new research by an international team that includes University of Michigan theoretical ecologist Mercedes Pascual finds that, while other factors such as drug and pesticide resistance, changing land use patterns and human migration also may play roles, climate change cannot be ruled out.

"Our results do not mean that temperature is the only or the main factor driving the increase in malaria, but that it is one of a number of factors that should be considered," Pascual said. The new study is slated would be published online this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

After being nearly or completely eradicated in a number of parts of the world, malaria still affects hundreds of millions of people worldwide and has been on the rise in some highland regions and desert fringes. Because the life cycle of the mosquito that transmits malaria and the microorganism that causes the disease are extremely sensitive to changes in temperature, some researchers have speculated that rising average temperatures may be making conditions more favorable for mosquitoes and pathogen development, leading in turn to the surge in malaria cases.........

Posted by: Mark      Permalink


March 21, 2006, 8:51 PM CT

Changes To In Utero And Cancer

Changes To In Utero And Cancer
Manipulating the in utero environment may alter the onset of cancers that appear later in the lives of mammals, as per a new University of Toronto study reported in the journal Carcinogenesis.

"We know that cancer-causing agents can travel across the placenta and harm the developing embryo or fetus," says Professor Peter Wells of the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy. "This study provides the first direct evidence that changing the uterus's molecular environment - in this case, by increasing the presence of antioxidants by adding vitamin E to the mice's diet - alters the carcinogenic process in adult life".

Wells and doctoral student Connie Chen worked with pregnant mice that had been genetically altered to lack one or both copies of the p53 gene, which results in a high incidence of cancers among their offspring. Previous to and throughout pregnancy, these mice were given either a normal diet or one supplemented with a high dose of vitamin E. The offspring were then observed for DNA damage and the onset of cancer. Two additional control groups, with both copies of the p53 gene intact, were also used in the experiment, one of which was given the vitamin E supplemented diet.

"Increased levels of vitamin E reduced in utero deaths among the offspring from 40 per cent in the control groups to five per cent in the test groups. In contrast, surprisingly, it also increased the onset of cancer in the offspring," Wells says. "Offspring that were exposed to vitamin E and lack one or both copies of the gene developed cancers nine per cent and 21 per cent faster than the equivalent control groups."........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink


March 21, 2006, 7:34 AM CT

Fastest growing cancer in America

Fastest  growing cancer in America
Fastest growing cancer in America.

Esophageal cancer is the fastest growing cancer in the United States. Unlike a number of other types of cancers a number of of esophageal cancers could be linked to the irritation caused by the stomach acid on the lower end of esophagus. Chronic irritation in this area may cause changes and damage that may eventually lead to the development of cancer.

An estimated Some 3 million Americans are thought to have a type of esophagus damage from severe acid reflux that puts them at increased risk for the deadly cancer. This is called Barrett's esophagitis. Scientists are trying to explore ways in which the damaged areas can reverted to normal so that cancer can be prevented. This issue becomes important when we recognize that there has been a six-fold increase in esophageal cancer the last two decades in the main sub type of esophageal cancer that is associated with acid reflux.........

Posted by: Sherin      Permalink


March 21, 2006, 7:11 AM CT

Breast Cancer Outcome Among Ethnic Groups

Breast Cancer Outcome Among Ethnic Groups
As per a new study, African American women are more likely to die from breast cancer and minorities in general do not receive the best therapy for the disease compared to white women.

This study reported in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, highlights the issues involved with racial and socioeconomic aspects of breast cancer. The study has observed and even after adjusting for socioeconomic differences, African-American are 20 percent more likely than white women to die of breast cancer.

A second study found that women in minority groups, including Hispanics, are half as likely to get complete follow-up therapy for the disease.

"Even after controlling for socioeconomic status and disease stage, African American women were 19 percent more likely to die from breast caner than white women," said Lisa Newman, Director of the Breast Care Center at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor who led the research.

The second study, conducted at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, found that minority women with early-stage breast cancer had double the risk of white women of failing to receive radiation, chemotherapy or hormonal treatment following breast cancer surgery.

The likelihood of not getting proper follow-up therapy among whites was 16 percent, much lower than the 23 percent for Hispanics and 34 percent among blacks.........

Posted by: Sherin      Permalink


March 20, 2006, 8:31 PM CT

Environmental Chemicals Cause Cancer

Environmental Chemicals Cause Cancer
New research at the University of Liverpool suggests that environmental contaminants, such as pesticides, are more influential in causing cancer than previously thought.

Prior studies in cancer causation have often concluded that exposure to carcinogenic or endocrine-disrupting chemicals, for example, organochlorines (OC) - found in pesticides and plastics - occurs at concentrations that are too low to be considered a major factor in malignant disease. Now new research at the University of Liverpool, reported in the Journal of Nutritional and Environmental Medicine, has found that exposure even to small amounts of these chemicals may result in an increased risk of developing cancer - especially for infants and young adults.

The research consisted of systematic reviewing of recent studies and literature concerning the environment and cancer, and was supported by the Cancer Prevention and Education Society. Professor Vyvyan Howard and John Newby, from the University's Department of Human Anatomy and Cell Biology, also found that genetic variations, which can predispose some people to cancer, may interact with environmental contaminants and produce an enhanced effect.

Professor Howard said: "Organochlorines are persistent organic pollutants (POPs), which disperse over long distances and bioaccumulate in the food chain. For humans the main source of OC exposure is from diet, primarily through meat and dairy products. Children are exposed to dioxin, a by-product of OCs, through food; dioxin and other POPs can also cross the placenta and endanger babies in the womb. Breastfed infants can be exposed to OCs with endocrine disrupting properties that have accumulated in breast milk. Our research looks at involuntary exposure to these chemicals in the air, food and water.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source


March 20, 2006, 7:48 PM CT

Researchers Find Fat Gene

Researchers Find Fat Gene
Rutgers scientists have identified a gene - and the molecular function of its protein product - that provides an important clue to further understanding obesity and may point the way to new drugs to control fat metabolism.

The researchers found that the human protein known as lipin is a key fat-regulating enzyme. "Lipin activity may be an important pharmaceutical target for the control of body fat in humans, treating conditions that range from obesity to the loss of fat beneath the skin, as seen in HIV patients, " said George M. Carman, a professor in Rutgers' department of food science.

In a paper published online by the Journal of Biological Chemistry (print version, April 7), Carman and his research team at Rutgers' Cook College describe their scientific detective work, moving from clue to clue in a series of logical connections to reach their discoveries.

Prior studies with mice showed that a lack of lipin causes a loss of body fat, whereas an excess of lipin promotes extra body fat. So scientists knew that lipin was involved in fat metabolism; they just didn't know how.

The Carman team's first revelation came with the discovery that lipin is an enzyme (phosphatidic acid phosphatase or PAP), a protein catalyst that is mandatory for the formation of fats - triglycerides, specifically.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


March 19, 2006, 8:05 PM CT

Scientist Highlights Bugs' Benefits

Scientist Highlights Bugs' Benefits
Bacteria are bad. Mothers and doctors, not to mention the cleaning product industry, repeatedly warn of their dangers. But a Stanford University School of Medicine microbiologist is raising the intriguing idea that persistent bacterial and viral infections have benefits.

Stanley Falkow, PhD, the Robert W. and Vivian K. Cahill Professor in Cancer Research, is publishing his thoughts on this topic in an essay in the Feb. 24 issue of the journal Cell, in which he asks, "Is persistent bacterial infection good for your health?" The essay is based on a talk he was invited to give at Cambridge University in November.

Falkow points out that the medical community and those who fund medical research focus on curing disease. He wonders if this single-mindedness might distract scientists from appreciating the beneficial contributions of micro-organisms to the body.

"Organisms that cause disease are commonly considered in the context of harm and epidemics and so on," said Falkow. "But the fact is that a great number of organisms that infect humans come in and set up housekeeping as it were. There are no clinical symptoms of anything wrong and people take the organisms with them to their graves".

It's not that the organisms in question - such as the bacteria that cause pneumonia or meningitis - are innocuous, he said. It's just that most of the individuals do not get disease from being infected.........

Posted by: Mark      Permalink         Source


March 19, 2006, 8:00 PM CT

Females Less Susceptible To Illness And Death

Females Less Susceptible To Illness And Death
Socially isolated female rats that experience just 30 minutes of stress generate a "staggeringly stronger" response to an immune challenge than similarly isolated and stressed males, as per a new study.

The difference in the female rats' responses may stem from the demands of motherhood, scientists speculate in the study "Social isolation and the inflammatory response: sex differences in the enduring effects of a previous stressor" by Gretchen L. Hermes, Anthony Montag and Martha K. McClintock of the University of Chicago, and Louis Rosenthal of the University of Wisconsin, Madison. The study appears in the recent issue of the American Journal of Physiology-Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, published by the American Physiological Society.

The study reinforces a growing body of evidence on health disparities between men and women and may shed light on why socially isolated men are more vulnerable to disease and death than isolated women, Hermes said.

Prior studies have established a link between stress and immune function, Hermes said. But this study looked at the long-lasting effect that three months of isolation (the equivalent of chronic social stress) and one 30-minute episode of acute physical stress had on the inflammatory response, the body's innate immune response to bacteria, viruses, and parasites. The authors found that a full two to three weeks after being subjected to isolation and the acute physical stress, male rats showed a markedly slower healing response when injected with a foreign body compared to female rats, Hermes said.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


March 18, 2006, 10:45 AM CT

Mutations In Avian Flu Virus May Cause Human Infection

Mutations In Avian Flu Virus May Cause Human Infection
The H5N1 avian influenza virus, usually known as "bird flu," is a highly contagious and deadly disease in poultry. So far, its spread to humans has been limited, with 177 documented severe infections, and nearly 100 deaths in Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, China, Iraq, and Turkey as of March 14, 2006, as per the World Health Organization (www.who.int).

"With continued outbreaks of the H5N1 virus in poultry and wild birds, further human cases are likely," said Ian Wilson, a Scripps Research professor of molecular biology and head of the laboratory that conducted the recent study. "The potential for the emergence of a human-adapted H5 virus, either by re-assortment or mutation, is a clear threat to public health worldwide."

Of the H5N1 strains isolated to date, the scientists looked at A/Vietnam/1203/2004 (Viet04), one of the most pathogenic H5N1 viruses studied so far. The virus was originally isolated from a 10-year-old Vietnamese boy who died from the infection in 2004. The hemagglutinin (HA) structure from the Viet04 virus was found to be closely correlation to the 1918 virus HA, which caused some 50 million deaths worldwide.

Using a recently developed microarray technology-hundreds of microscopic assay sites on a single small surface-the study showed that relatively small mutations can result in switching the binding site preference of the avian virus from receptors in the intestinal tract of birds to the respiratory tract of humans. These mutations, the study noted, were already "known in [some human influenza] viruses to increase binding for these receptors."........

Posted by: Mark      Permalink         Source


March 17, 2006, 7:07 AM CT

Microwave Technique To Detect Breast Cancer

Microwave Technique To Detect Breast Cancer
Scientists from Australia are developing a revolutionary new technique for early detection of breast cancer. They have found that microwave technology can be safely used for the detection of breast tumors.

Cutting edge research done by Dr. David Smith from Northumbria's School of Computing, Engineering and Information Sciences could lead to a safer and more effective way of screening for breast cancer. Microwave-based techniques are capable of generating high-quality holographic images of hidden objects such as tumors.

Medical Research Council is offering a research award to Dr. Smith and one associate to spend time at Newcastle University's Medical School to learn at first hand how the technology can be applied. Dr. Smith is expected to work with Professor Tom Lennard, Head of Surgery at Newcastle University Medical School, and will be able to use false breasts with a simulated tumour to test the technique.

"We already have proof of concept - we know microwave images can detect the difference in materials - but this collaboration will allow us to use more realistic samples and take this project a stage further,'' said Dr Smith.

Using holograms to detect breast cancer is more effective, cheaper and safer than X-rays. X-rays could be dangerous when used in higher doses but microwave radiation, on the other hand, is harmless to humans.........

Posted by: Emily      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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