September 12, 2006, 5:04 AM CT
Weight-loss Rate Doubles Before Dementia
A long-term study of the elderly has revealed that their average rate of weight loss doubles in the year before symptoms of Alzheimer's-type dementia first become detectable. The finding may be useful to scientists seeking ways to detect and treat Alzheimer's before it causes irreversible brain damage.
The study is the first to confirm in precise detail a link between weight loss and dementia tentatively identified a decade ago. Scientists report in the September 2006 Archives of Neurology that one year before study volunteers were diagnosed with very mild dementia, their rate of weight loss doubled from 0.6 pounds per year to 1.2 pounds per year. The analysis used data from the Memory and Aging Project at the Alzheimer's Disease Research Center (ADRC) of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.
Alzheimer's scientists are working hard to find biomarkers, indicators that can be used to detect the presence of Alzheimer's before clinical symptoms become obvious. Studies at the ADRC and elsewhere have strongly suggested that if Alzheimer's therapys will ever prevent lasting cognitive damage, they may have to be given to patients before memory loss and other disruptions caused by the disorder are evident.
"A person's weight can vary substantially in a given year, so weight loss alone can't serve as a definite indicator for physicians," says David K. Johnson, Ph.D., research instructor in neurology. "But it's interesting from a biochemical perspective--we don't know why these two phenomena are linked. And weight loss may one day be incorporated into a battery of biomarkers that physicians keep their eyes on for early warning of Alzheimer's-type dementia".........
Posted by: JoAnn Permalink Source
September 12, 2006, 4:53 AM CT
Vitamin D Cuts Pancreatic Cancer Risk By Half
Consumption of Vitamin D tablets was found to cut the risk of pancreas cancer nearly in half, as per a research studyled by scientists at Northwestern and Harvard universities.
The findings point to Vitamin D's potential to prevent the disease, and is one of the first known studies to use a large-scale epidemiological survey to examine the relationship between the nutrient and cancer of the pancreas. The study, led by Halcyon Skinner, Ph.D., of Northwestern, appears in the recent issue of Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention.
The study examined data from two large, long-term health surveys and observed that taking the U.S. Recommended Daily Allowance of Vitamin D (400 IU/day) reduced the risk of pancreas cancer by 43 percent. By comparison, those who consumed less than 150 IUs per day experienced a 22 percent reduced risk of cancer. Increased consumption of the vitamin beyond 400 IUs per day resulted in no significant increased benefit.
"Because there is no effective screening for pancreas cancer, identifying controllable risk factors for the disease is essential for developing strategies that can prevent cancer," said Skinner.
"Vitamin D has shown strong potential for preventing and treating prostate cancer, and areas with greater sunlight exposure have lower incidence and mortality for prostate, breast, and colon cancers, leading us to investigate a role for Vitamin D in pancreas cancer risk. Few studies have examined this association, and we did observe a reduced risk for pancreas cancer with higher intake of Vitamin D".........
Posted by: Sue Permalink Source
September 12, 2006, 4:50 AM CT
Direct-to-consumer Drug Ads
Television ads for prescription drugs are everywhere, enticing people to ask their doctors for this drug or that one, but the effect this type of ad has on American healthcare may be more complicated than simply inducing patients to choose one brand or the other, as per a team of researchers.
"Up until 1997, manufacturers could not say both the product's name and what it was used for, in a TV ad," says Andrew N. Kleit, professor of energy and environmental economics and member of Penn State's Center for Health Care and Policy Research.
Since 1997, direct-to-consumer ads have flourished, even with the requirement that the ads must list all the potential side effects and counter indications. Some critics suggest that the ads get people to take the medications when they do not need them or are not good for them. Others argue that the ads are important to tell people that a medical solution to the problem is now available. Still others suggest that the ads make people more health conscious and spur them on to get the therapy that they need, no matter which medicine they eventually use. However, little research covers the effects of these television advertisements.
Kleit and a team of scientists from Medical University of South Carolina including project principal investigator David Bradford, professor, health administration and policy; Paul J. Nietert, assistant professor, biostatistics, bioinformatics and epidemiology; Terrence Steyer, assistant professor, family medicine; Thomas McIlwain, assistant professor health administration and policy and Steven Ornstein, department of family medicine, investigated how drug ads for two osteoarthritis drugs influenced patients' medical visits and doctors prescribing the drug.........
Posted by: Janet Permalink Source
September 11, 2006, 10:24 PM CT
Allocating HIV drugs to South African cities
The most effective way to control the AIDS pandemic in hard-hit South Africa would be to concentrate the allocation of scarce antiretroviral drugs in urban areas. This, however, would not be the most ethical approach, as per an innovative new study from the UCLA AIDS Institute.
The article is scheduled to be published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences online Early Edition http://www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.0609689103 during the week of Sept. 11-15.
Using data from the KwaZulu-Natal province for their parameters, scientists from UCLA and the University of California, San Francisco, devised a mathematical model to predict the impact of drug allocation strategies that the South African government is implementing to treat 500,000 people by 2008. These data included birth rates, natural death rates and death rates stemming from AIDS.
They looked at three drug allocation strategies: one that would allocate antiretroviral drugs only to the city of Durban and two making them available in both urban and rural areas.
Of those, the Durban-only strategy would be the most effective in preventing new infections, reducing them by up to 46 percent -- amounting to preventing an additional 15,000 infections by 2008 -- compared with the two strategies that would include both urban and rural areas. The strategy also would avert the greatest number of deaths from AIDS and generate the least amount of drug resistance.........
Posted by: Mark Permalink Source
September 11, 2006, 10:12 PM CT
Wearing A Helmet Puts Cyclists At Risk
Drivers pass closer when overtaking cyclists wearing helmets than when overtaking bare-headed cyclists, increasing the risk of a collision, the research has found.
Dr Ian Walker, a traffic psychology expert from the University of Bath, used a bicycle fitted with a computer and an ultrasonic distance sensor to record data from over 2,500 overtaking motorists in Salisbury and Bristol.
Dr Walker, who was struck by a bus and a truck in the course of the experiment, spent half the time wearing a cycle helmet and half the time bare-headed. He was wearing the helmet both times he was struck.
He observed that drivers were as much as twice as likely to get especially close to the bicycle when he was wearing the helmet.
Across the board, drivers passed an average of 8.5 cm (3 1/3 inches) closer with the helmet than without.
The research has been accepted for publication in the journal Accident Analysis & Prevention.
"This study shows that when drivers overtake a cyclist, the margin for error they leave is affected by the cyclist's appearance," said Dr Walker, from the University's Department of Psychology.
"By leaving the cyclist less room, drivers reduce the safety margin that cyclists need to deal with obstacles in the road, such as drain covers and potholes, as well as the margin for error in their own judgements.........
Posted by: JoAnn Permalink Source
September 11, 2006, 9:59 PM CT
Do Not Rely Only On What Young Athletes Say
When it comes to managing concussions in sports, relying only on an athlete's self report of symptoms is inadequate and likely to result in under-diagnosing the injury and the athlete unsafely returning to play following the concussion, warn doctors at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) Sports Medicine Concussion Program. Along with assessing symptoms, the doctors stress, using computer-based neurocognitive function testing is crucial for accurate, objective evaluation of concussion and determining a safe return-to-play time for the athlete.
"Because of the tendency of some athletes to under-report their symptoms, presumably in an attempt to speed their return to the playing field, neurocognitive testing following suspected concussion is especially important in keeping kids safe," said Mark Lovell, Ph.D., director of the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program. Research has shown at least one in 10 high school or college athletes sustains a concussion each year.
Dr. Lovell's alert is based on a recent UPMC study of concussed high school and college athletes that showed unreliability of the athletes' self-reported symptoms and demonstrated the value of neurocognitive testing in significantly increasing the capacity to detect post-concussion abnormalities, decreasing the potential of exposure to additional injury. Prior research has shown that young concussed athletes who are returned to play too soon, before their brains have healed, are highly vulnerable to further injury, including post-concussion syndrome, or in rare cases, fatal second-impact syndrome. The current study is published in the upcoming issue of the American Journal of Sports Medicine, available online at www.ajsm.org
Posted by: Daniel Permalink Source
September 7, 2006, 9:01 PM CT
Ban Children From ATVs
Neurosurgeons at St. Louis Children's Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis are renewing calls for a ban on use of all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) by children under age 16 after a 10-year review of injuries caused by the vehicles.
"Children have no experience or training in driving motorized vehicles, and they're driving them on uneven terrain where they can't see what's coming up ahead of them very well," says T.S. Park, M.D., the Shi Hui Huang Professor of Neurological Surgery at the School of Medicine and pediatric neurosurgeon-in-chief at St. Louis Children's Hospital. "This is leading to an increasing number of fatalities and devastating injuries with lifelong consequences for children and their parents".
Park and his colleagues evaluated all cases seen at the hospital over a 10-year span, identifying 185 patients admitted as a result of ATV-related accidents. Among the study's findings:
- One-third of the patients suffered serious neurological injuries including cerebral hemorrhages and skull fractures.
- Two-thirds of the total patient population had to undergo inpatient rehabilitation.
- Two patients had spinal cord injuries.
- Two patients died
The review was published in a July 2006 pediatric supplement to the Journal of Neurosurgery.........
Posted by: JoAnn Permalink Source
September 7, 2006, 5:16 AM CT
Thirty Percent Of Nurses Report abuse
Almost a third of the nurses who took part in a large-scale study reported that they had been subjected to both physical and verbal abuse in the last 4 working weeks and a quarter had considered resigning as a result, as per research in the latest issue of the UK-based Journal of Advanced Nursing.
Two-thirds of the 2,407 nurses who took part in the survey, led by the University of Tasmania and supported by the Australian Nursing Federation, reported some form of abuse during the period covered.
This ranged from being sworn at, slapped and spat upon to being bitten, choked and stabbed. The abused nurses, who all worked in Tasmania, reported an average of four verbal incidents and between two to three physical incidents.
Sixty-nine percent of nurses who had been physically abused had been struck with a hand, fist or elbow and 34 percent had been bitten.
A further 49 percent said they had been pushed or shoved, 48 percent had been scratched and 38 percent said that someone had spat at them.
"We also discovered that that six percent had been choked and just under one percent had been stabbed" adds lead author Professor Gerald A Farrell, now based at La Trobe University School of Nursing and Midwifery in Victoria, Australia.
Posted by: Janet Permalink Source
September 7, 2006, 4:49 AM CT
Migraine Prevention In Women
Migraines are more common in the United States than diabetes, osteoarthritis or asthma. Of the 28 million people who experience migraines in this country, 18 million are women. Eventhough prevention is very effective in managing this disorder, only 3 percent to 5 percent of women seek preventive treatment.
To better understand this issue and provide guidance for physicians treating female migraine patients, Mayo Clinic in Arizona Women's Health Internal Medicine physicians evaluated all the major studies on the disorder reported in the past five years. They compiled study results into a concise review for clinicians, reported in the August 2006 issue of the Mayo Clinic Proceedings.
"Most people with migraines first seek help from their primary care provider instead of a neurologist or a specialist. The purpose of our paper is to provide more information for primary care physicians who typically manage these cases," says Beverly Tozer, M.D., who led the review.
The review emphasized preventive therapies for migraines at different stages of a female's life. As per Dr. Tozer, good evidence suggests that hormonal changes effect migraine development, with migraines being most prevalent during the reproductive years.
"Almost one-fourth of women in their reproductive years experience migraines," Dr. Tozer says. "During these years, women are building both their families and their careers. The predominance of this disorder in women with its associated social, functional and economic consequences makes migraine an important issue in women's health".........
Posted by: Daniel Permalink Source
September 6, 2006, 10:02 PM CT
Keep Slapping On That Sunscreen
How often do you apply sunscreen? If it's anything less than once every 2 hours, you might be better off not using any in the first place.
So says Kerry Hanson, a chemist at the University of California at Riverside. She and her colleagues exposed human skin samples grown in the lab to UV radiation while they were covered with three common.
UV filters found in sunscreens: benzophenone-3, octocrylene and octylmethoxycinnamate. After just 1 hour, they found each compound had sunk into the skin, meaning its protective effect was greatly reduced. Worse, Hanson's team observed that the samples contained more reactive oxygen species (ROS) than skin exposed to UV with no sunscreen on it. ROS are free radicals that can damage skin cells and increase the risk of skin cancer (Free Radical Biology and Medicine, DOI: 10.1016/j. freeradbiomed.2006.06.011).
The Skin Cancer Foundation in New York recommends that people go no more than 2 hours between reapplications of sunscreen. Our findings tend to support that, says Hanson.
It might actually be necessary to reapply even more often. One way of counteracting free radicals, Hanson says, might be to add antioxidants such as vitamins C and E to sunscreens. "In prior work, we've shown that antioxidants can help neutralise ROS in the skin," she says, though she has yet to perform the same experiment with sunscreen.........
Posted by: George Permalink Source