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December 27, 2005

Lifestyle Changes Have Major Health Impact

Lifestyle Changes Have Major Health Impact
New Year's resolutions to lose weight, stop smoking and exercise are made by countless people every January. Unfortunately, these goals seldom seem attainable and good intentions often fall by the wayside after a few weeks. Is there really a way to keep your resolutions and transform your body and your health? .

The results of a two-year study involving the Department of Human Services (7,500 employees) of the State of Oklahoma conclude the answer is "yes". A lifestyle management program using step-by-step attainable goals was shown to successfully translate good intentions to live a healthier lifestyle into reality.

The study participants were enrolled in INTERVENTUSA, a scientifically-based lifestyle management program offered in the Atlanta area through the Emory Heart Center. Individualized programs to help participants implement and adhere to exercise, nutrition, weight management, stress management, and smoking cessation resolutions were implemented and administered via the telephone and the Internet.

Not only did a number of of the participants in the program, named OK Health, reach their goals but the health claim costs of the employees who completed one year of program participation were lowered by a staggering 31 percent, according to the Oklahoma Employees Benefits Council and Oklahoma Department of Human Services.

"In employees with abnormal risk factor values at the start of the study, one year of program participation resulted in impressive improvements in blood pressure and cholesterol levels, with increases in HDL ('good' cholesterol) and decreases in the 'bad' lipids (LDL cholesterol and triglycerides). In addition, on average, there was a weight loss of 11 pounds and a significant reduction of fasting blood glucose levels," says Neil F. Gordon, MD, PhD, clinical professor of medicine in the Emory University School of Medicine and INTERVENTUSA founder.........

Janet      Permalink


December 26, 2005

Arthritis Drug Effective for Depression

Arthritis Drug Effective for Depression
Etanercept (trade name Enbrel), approved for treating rheumatoid arthritis, effectively reduces not only the symptoms of the disease, but also depression and fatigue in psoriasis sufferers, according to a multi-university research team that includes a scientist at Duke University Medical Center. Etanercept, an antibody that blocks tumor necrosis factor-alpha, significantly improved the symptoms and depression associated with the disorder, the scientists reported in an article published online Dec. 14, 2005 by The Lancet.

High concentrations of pro-inflammatory substances called cytokines, such as tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha), have been associated with major depression. According to Ranga Krishnan, M.D., the study author based at Duke, scientists have long hypothesized that reducing the effects of the cytokines may reverse depressive symptoms. Until now, no research team has examined the effects of a tumor necrosis factor receptor on depression in humans.

The phase III clinical trial was primarily designed to test the effectiveness of etanercept in improving the clinical symptoms of psoriasis, a chronic skin disease characterized by silvery, scaling bumps and raised patches of very dry skin. In severe cases, people can experience joint pain similar to that of rheumatoid arthritis. Psoriasis sufferers frequently experience problems with both depression and fatigue as a result of their disease.

"It has been shown that when you are sick or depressed, tumor necrosis factor concentration increases," said Krishnan, chief of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke. "When TNF-alpha goes up, the symptoms are very similar to what is termed 'sickness behavior' and prior studies have shown that when a person is depressed, TNF-alpha levels are increased in blood".........

JoAnn      Permalink


December 26, 2005

Antidepressants Boost Brain Growth

Antidepressants Boost Brain Growth
The beneficial effects of a widely used class of antidepressants might be the result of increased nerve-fiber growth in key parts of the brain, according to a Johns Hopkins study being published in the January 2006 issue of the Journal of Neurochemistry.

The study on rats, led by Vassilis E. Koliatsos, M.D., a neuropathologist at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, found that selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) increase the density of nerve-impulse-carrying axons in the frontal and parietal lobes of the neocortex and part of the limbic brain which control the sense of smell, emotions, motivation, and organs that work reflexively such as the heart, intestines and stomach. "It appears that SSRI antidepressants rewire areas of the brain that are important for thinking and feeling, as well as operating the autonomic nervous system," said Koliatsos.

Axons are long, filament-shaped extensions of neurons that, together with myelin, are the main constituents of nerves. Axons conduct chemically driven nerve impulses away from the cell body toward a narrow gap known as a synapse. Among the chemicals involved are such monoamines as norepinephrine and serotonin, which, at the synapse, are transferred to another neuron.

Antidepressants, such as Prozac, Zoloft and Paxil, have long been thought to exert their clinical effects by increasing synaptic concentrations of serotonin and norepinephrine, enhancing or stimulating their transference.

"But our findings -- that serotonin reuptake modulators increase the density of nerve synapses, particularly in the front part of the brain - may offer a better explanation of why antidepressants are effective and why they take time to work," according to Koliatsos.

For example, antidepressants increase synaptic monoamines within hours, and the regulatory effects on receptors are complete within a few days, yet clinically meaningful results from antidepressants commonly require a two- to four-week delay.........

JoAnn      Permalink


December 25, 2005, 10:32 AM CT

Merry Christmas To All Our Readers

Merry Christmas To All Our Readers
Medicineworld wishes all our readers merry Christmas.

Oh, jingle bells, jingle bells

Jingle all the way

Oh, what fun it is to ride

In a one horse open sleigh

Jingle bells, jingle bells

Jingle all the way

Oh, what fun it is to ride

In a one horse open sleigh........

Daniel      Permalink


December 23, 2005

How To Control The Christmas Alcohol Craving

How To Control The Christmas Alcohol Craving
Festive Season drinkers who feel they are losing control of their alcohol consumption can join an innovative drug-free program run by scientists at The University of Queensland.

Professor David Kavanagh of UQ's School of Medicine is piloting a program that is free for participants and especially useful for people who find that their drinking is damaging other areas of their lives.

The program involves "owning and managing" your alcohol craving, rather than fighting it, Professor Kavanagh said.

"For most of us there is nothing wrong with small or moderate amounts of alcohol," he said.

"However, at least once a year 35 percent of Australians drink in a way that puts them at short-term risk of physical harm.

"Alarmingly, 40 percent of teenagers aged 14-19 and 61 percent of 20-29 year-olds risk their health in this way.

"For a number of, Christmas-New Year is a really perilous time because it is easy to lose track of alcohol consumption when you are out partying."

Professor Kavanagh said the program, at the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital at Herston, is designed for people who want to stop drinking altogether, as well as those who want to cut back.

"It is never easy to kick a habit like drinking, particularly when we are surrounded by alcohol and images that promote drinking.........

Janet      Permalink


December 23, 2005

Parrots For Studying Mental Disorders

Parrots For Studying Mental Disorders
The bird doing loop-the-loops in the cage and pulling out its feathers is not just playing and preening. Stress may cause these activities and also may provide insight into similar human behaviors, according to researchers.

A study of abnormal repetitive behaviors practiced by Orange-winged Amazon parrots indicates that environment plays a role in two types of behavior that the caged birds perform. One of the behaviors, feather picking, closely mirrors compulsive behaviors in humans, according to Purdue University and University of California at Davis researchers. The study also helped debunk a time-worn belief that parrots teach each other feather picking.

"There is a lot of merit in studying abnormal behaviors just in terms of figuring out ways to control them for the welfare of both companion animals and those bred for production agriculture," said Joseph Garner, a Purdue assistant professor of animal sciences and the study's lead author. "Another benefit is that if animal abnormal behavior is caused in the same way as in humans, then we may have a whole new range of model animals for studying human mental disorders".

Results of the research are scheduled for publication in the recent issue of Applied Animal Behaviour Science and currently are published on the journal's Web site.

The scientists initially were trying to determine if parrots' abnormal behaviors are of two categories. One category is composed of a constant repetition of meaningless gestures or movements called stereotypies, and the other is a repetition of inappropriate complex behavior that normally would have a specific goal, such as feather picking.

"I've thought for awhile that we should start looking at these behaviors in animals as if they are two different types," Garner said. "Then, if we treated stereotypies and compulsive behaviors as if they were in humans, maybe we would improve our therapys in birds".........

JoAnn      Permalink


December 22, 2005

Troubling Behavior In Medical School And Practice

Troubling Behavior In Medical School And Practice
In a first-of-its-kind study, scientists at Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia have found that doctors who are disciplined by state medical boards, were three times as likely as their colleagues to have exhibited unprofessional behavior in medical school. Investigators who conducted this national inquiry say it reinforces the need to stress the vital importance of professionalism from the time a student enters medical school all the way through his or her professional career.

Published this week in The New England Journal of Medicine, the study is the work of a team of scientists including Susan Rattner, M.D., and J. Jon Veloski, MS, both of Thomas Jefferson University. The effort was led by Maxine Papadakis, M.D., of the University of California-San Francisco School of Medicine.

"Unprofessional behavior among students was defined as including irresponsibility, diminished capacity for self-improvement, poor initiative and impaired interpersonal relationships," said Dr. Rattner, clinical associate professor of Medicine and Senior Associate Dean for Undergraduate Medical Education at Jefferson.

These students were nearly nine times more likely than their colleagues to be disciplined when they became practicing physicians.

Emphasizing that this is "a rare problem affecting only a very small group of practicing physicians," Dr. Rattner nonetheless concluded that "because professionalism is a fundamental core value in the practice of medicine, it must be taught and modeled in all of our educational and clinical activities. It is imperative that technical standards for admission to medical school and outcome objectives for graduation address professional behavior."

The study recommends standardized methods be implemented for both assessing the personal qualities of medical school applicants and predicting their performance as doctors.........

JoAnn      Permalink


December 21, 2005

It's never too late to quit smoking

It's never too late to quit smoking
There is never a bad time to stop smoking, but there is no time like the present to quit. November is Lung Cancer Awareness month, and with the holiday season approaching, quitting smoking is the best gift smokers can give themselves, their families and their friends.

According to the American Cancer Society, smoking is the most preventable cause of death in the United States, accounting for 440,000 deaths, or nearly one of every five deaths, each year. It also causes more than 80 percent of all lung cancers and increases the risk for a number of other types of cancer, including oral, throat pancreatic, uterine, bladder, and kidney cancers.

"Our most effective tool for treating lung cancer is to prevent it from ever happening," explains Bruce E. Johnson, MD, director of the Lowe Center for Thoracic Oncology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.

Johnson emphasizes that it is never too late to quit. People who stop and remain a nonsmoker for at least 10 to 20 years can cut their risk of developing lung cancer in half. Even those who quit smoking in their 60s, 70s, and 80s benefit by reducing their risk of dying from a heart attack or from developing lung or head and neck cancer, says Johnson.

Johnson offers the following tips to help people to quit smoking:

First, commit to quit

  • Remember reason for wanting to quit: Family, children, personal health


  • Tell friends and family

  • Recruit the help, support and encouragement of family and friends
  • ........

    Janet      Permalink


    December 21, 2005

    Genes Related To Alcoholism

    Genes Related To Alcoholism
    Scientists have found in a study of tobacco users that their drinking behavior is linked to some of the same chromosome regions associated with alcohol addiction.

    The study, published in the January issue of the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, offers evidence that the interaction between smoking and alcohol consumption may partly be due to overlapping genetic risk factors.

    The results also provide further confirmation that alcoholism is a complex behavior drawing from both environmental and genetic factors.

    "Since we know that people who drink often smoke and that smokers often drink, we thought it reasonable to collect some information about the drinking behavior in these families," said lead study author Dr. Kirk C. Wilhelmsen, associate professor in the departments of genetics and neurology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's School of Medicine.

    He also is a member of the Carolina Center for Genome Sciences, the Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies and the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.

    The research team studied 158 families that had at least two first-degree relatives who had smoked 100 or more cigarettes in their lifetime. These included any combination of parents, siblings and offspring who had smoked.

    A detailed questionnaire was used to search for alcohol-related behavioral traits, or phenotypes, shared within each family. Questions concerned the quantity of alcohol consumed, such as the number of alcohol drinks per month for six consecutive months and the number of alcohol of drinks consumed in a typical week and typical day.

    DNA from blood samples taken from each family participant was analyzed for particular genetic variations. "We looked for excess chromosome sharing of regions that had genes that affect patterns of drinking behavior," Wilhelmsen said.........

    JoAnn      Permalink


    December 21, 2005

    Happiness May Lead To Success Via Positive Emotions

    Happiness May Lead To Success Via Positive Emotions
    Personal and professional success may lead to happiness but may also engender success. Happy individuals are predisposed to seek out and undertake new goals in life and this reinforces positive emotions, say scientists who examined the connections between desirable characteristics, life successes and well-being of over 275,000 people.

    From a review of 225 studies in the current issue of Psychological Bulletin, published by the American Psychological Association (APA), lead author Sonja Lyubomirsky, Ph.D., of the University of California, Riverside found that chronically happy people are in general more successful across a number of life domains than less happy people and their happiness is in large part a consequence of their positive emotions rather than vice versa. Happy people are more likely to achieve favorable life circumstances, said Dr. Lyubomirsky, and "this may be because happy people frequently experience positive moods and these positive moods prompt them to be more likely to work actively toward new goals and build new resources. When people feel happy, they tend to feel confident, optimistic, and energetic and others find them likable and sociable. Happy people are thus able to benefit from these perceptions.

    Lyubomirsky and co-authors Laura King, Ph.D., of University of Missouri, Columbia and Ed Diener, Ph.D., of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and The Gallup Organization examined studies involving three different types of evidence - cross-sectional, longitudinal and experimental designs - to determine how happiness and positive affect are related to culturally-valued success.

    The authors chose to use these different types of evidence to bolster their confidence in establishing cause-and-effect relationships among happiness, positive affect, and success. Cross-sectional studies compare different groups of people and answer questions like, "Are happy people more successful than unhappy people? and "Does long-term happiness and short term positive affect co-occur with desirable behaviors? Longitudinal studies examine groups of people over a period of time and address questions like, "Does happiness precede success? and "Does positive affect pave the way for success-like behaviors? Finally, experimental studies manipulate variables to test whether an outcome will occur under controlled conditions and answer questions like, "Does positive affect lead to success-oriented behaviors?........

    JoAnn      Permalink



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    Did you know?
    Too little evidence exists to recommend or rule out estrogen as a treatment for schizophrenia in women, a new review of studies finds.People diagnosed with schizophrenia suffer distorted perceptions of reality and hallucinations. Today, estrogen is strictly an experimental therapy for the psychotic symptoms associated with the mental illness.

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