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April 28, 2006, 6:49 AM CT

Chamomile Tea And Lotion May Cause Internal Bleeding

Chamomile Tea And Lotion May Cause Internal Bleeding Chamomile
Scientists at the MUHC in Montreal have documented a severe case of internal hemorrhaging in a patient that drank chamomile tea and used chamomile lotion while taking anti-coagulant medicine for a heart condition. The 70-year old patient was admitted to the MUHC ER in Montreal after using chamomile to help soothe her sore throat. The case reported in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) this week, highlights the need for caution when taking alternative (natural) therapies while on doctor prescribed medications.

The patient had been implanted with a mechanical valve and was taking an anti-coagulant medicine called warfarin, designed to thin the blood and reduce the chances of stroke. "Warfarin is an effective and reliable anti-coagulant and as a result is used commonly," says Dr. Louise Pilote an internist and epidemiologist at the MUHC and Associate Professor of Medicine at McGill University. "We are aware of several herbal products that should not be taken with warfarin, such as garlic, onion and ginger, but this is the first time we have documented a life-threatening reaction when combined with chamomile."

Warfarin is derived from coumarin, a chemical compound with anti-coagulant properties found in a number of plants, including chamomile. "It seems the chamomile acted synergistically with the warfarin in this case," says Dr. Pilote. "Eventhough this is a rare case, it highlights the potential dangers of mixing herbal remedies with doctor prescribed medications."........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source


April 26, 2006, 8:06 PM CT

Cultural Approach Holds The Key To Tackling Obesity

Cultural Approach Holds The Key To Tackling Obesity
Health professionals need to use more than tape measures and scales to define and tackle obesity, as per a paper in the latest Journal of Advanced Nursing.

A research review carried out by Maryanne Davidson from Yale University, USA, has discovered that a number of women don't make the link between high weight and poor health and that culture plays a big role in how positively they see themselves.

She reviewed key papers published over a 10-year period to see how health professionals and Black and White American women define obesity and to identify differences in attitudes.

This revealed that while health professionals used quantitative methods, such as Body Mass Index measurements based on the height to weight ratio, women are more likely to base their ideal weight on cultural criteria.

"My review revealed that Black American participants defined obesity in positive terms, relating it to attractiveness, sexual desirability, body image, strength or goodness, self esteem and social acceptability" says Davidson. "In addition they didn't view obesity as cause for concern when it came to their health."

White Americans, conversely, expressed completely the opposite view.

"They defined obesity in negative terms, describing it as unattractive, not socially desirable, associated with negative body image and decreased self-esteem and being socially unacceptable.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


April 26, 2006, 7:38 PM CT

Mothers' Drinking Shrinks Fetal Brain

Mothers' Drinking Shrinks Fetal Brain
Routine ultrasounds show that heavy drinkers who continue to imbibe after learning they are pregnant may carry fetuses with reduced skull and brain growth compared to those of abstainers or quitters, says a new study.

Eventhough the alcohol-exposed babies' growth remained within normal range, the findings reveal effects of drinking on the developing human brain. The study will appear in the recent issue of Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

"What this tells us is that the earlier you abstain in a pregnancy, the better the outcome," said lead author Nancy Handmaker, a University of New Mexico clinical psychology expert with expertise in maternal-fetal health.

Alcohol use during pregnancy is a leading preventable cause of birth defects and developmental disabilities in the United States, as per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder -- which includes a range of cognitive, emotional and behavioral problems -- may be present in as a number of as one of every 100 births.

The study authors obtained routine ultrasound data from 167 pregnant women who had reported a history of hazardous drinking before pregnancy. Of these, 97 were classified as heavy drinkers. The study compared the fetal growth measures among drinkers who quit after learning of their impending motherhood to those among women who continued to drink.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source


April 25, 2006, 7:49 PM CT

Girls Better Than Boys On Timed Tests

Girls Better Than Boys On Timed Tests
New research attempting to shed light on the evergreen question--just how do male and female brains differ?--has found that timing is everything.

In a study involving over 8,000 males and females ranging in age from 2 to 90 from the across the United States, Vanderbilt University scientists Stephen Camarata and Richard Woodcock discovered that females have a significant advantage over males on timed tests and tasks. Camarata and Woodcock found the differences were especially significant among pre-teens and teens.

"We found very minor differences in overall intelligence. But if you look at the ability of someone to perform well in a timed situation, females have a big advantage," Camarata said. "It is very important for teachers to understand this difference in males and females when it comes to assigning work and structuring tests. To truly understand a person's overall ability, it is important to also look at performance in un-timed situations. For males, this means presenting them with material that is challenging and interesting, but is presented in smaller chunks without strict time limits."

The findings are especially timely, with more attention being paid by parents, educators and the media to the troubling achievement gap between males and females in U.S. schools.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source


April 25, 2006, 7:31 PM CT

New Hope For People Trying To Quit Smoking

New Hope For People Trying To Quit Smoking
In the first study of its kind, University of Pittsburgh psychology expert and professor Saul Shiffman has discovered that people who are trying to quit smoking by wearing the nicotine patch are less likely to spiral into a total relapse if they keep wearing the patch, even if they've "cheated" and smoked a cigarette. The groundbreaking study, titled Analyzing Milestones in Smoking Cessation: Illustration in a Nicotine Patch Trial in Adult Smokers, will be published May 2 in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology.

Shiffman and his associates not only examined the therapy's final outcome-the question of whether the patch worked-but also measured therapy milestones, such as momentary lapses, to try to find out more about why and how a nicotine patch works. Smokers in the study were using either a high-dose NicoDerm CQ nicotine patch (35 mg, 2/3 stronger than the currently marketed 21 mg patches) or a placebo patch. Using hand-held computers as electronic diaries, the 324 participants recorded exactly when they were craving a cigarette and if and when they lapsed and smoked one. The resulting data showed that people who wore the active patch after lapsing were 4 to 6 times less likely to "cheat" again and again. The nicotine patch not only helped prevent slips, but also was more effective in preventing the slip from turning into a full relapse. Previous to this, people who slipped while trying to quit were considered "failures," and no therapy was considered effective in helping ward off relapse. And, Shiffman calls the notion that a person who smokes while wearing a patch is risking a heart attack a "myth".........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source


April 24, 2006, 7:37 PM CT

National Confusion About Food Safety

National Confusion About Food Safety
Americans are confident about their ability to keep the food they eat safe - but a new survey shows they don't trust their neighbors, and they don't really have a good feel for how widespread food-borne illness is.

Survey results released recently in Washington, D.C., by a Michigan State University center show a country in cuisine conflict. The MSU Food Safety Policy Center seeks to understand U.S. attitudes about food safety - who we think should be responsible for it, who we think is most at risk, and even how severe we think the risk might be.

The survey shows that only 10 percent of Americans say they got food poisoning in the past year - yet statistics say a quarter of Americans suffered food-borne illnesses each year - data that itself is more than 10 years old.

"We get sick, by and large we know we get sick - but we don't know if it's food-borne illness," said Craig Harris, an MSU sociologist and study director of the Food Safety Policy Center. "We can see that Americans tend not to attribute as a number of of our illnesses to food as we should".

"People who got sick probably don't know that the foods they eat are unsafe," added Andrew Knight, a visiting professor in the center. "When you tell them how much food-borne illness there is out there, they find it unacceptable."........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


April 23, 2006, 10:49 PM CT

Alcoholism And Chronic Smoking Can Damage Brain

Alcoholism And Chronic Smoking Can Damage Brain
Alcoholism is usually associated with chronic smoking, and both alcohol and nicotine are believed to act on the same brain region. A study in the recent issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research builds upon prior research that identified four potential alcohol-sensitive genes in the prefrontal cortex, finding that smoking also influences the expression of these genes.

"Nicotine and alcohol are both addictive drugs," said Traute Flatscher-Bader, a postdoctoral research officer at the Alcohol Research Unit of the University of Queensland, Brisbane and corresponding author for the study. "They act on the same brain region, the 'drug reward pathway' or mesocorticolimbic system (MDS). The MDS contains the 'feel-good' neurotransmitter dopamine. Acute nicotine and alcohol cause an imbalance within the MDS by artificially increasing dopamine levels through direct and/or indirect modulation of dopaminergic neurons. While the long-term effect of alcoholism on the human brain has been investigated, surprisingly little is known about the long-term effect of nicotine on specific regions of the drug reward pathway in the human brain."

"Studies into the molecular changes that alcohol and smoking have on the body and especially the brain are crucial for understanding the disease state," said Nikki Zuvela, a doctoral student in molecular neuroscience at The University of Queensland. "There are actual molecular changes to parts of the brain involved in developing addiction; most importantly, within those centres known to mediate desire, craving, pleasure, self control, decision making, fear and emotion."........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source


April 23, 2006, 10:42 PM CT

Attention shoppers: Neurons that encode the value of different goods

Attention shoppers: Neurons that encode the value of different goods
Scientists at Harvard Medical School (HMS) report in the April 23 issue of Nature that they have identified neurons that encode the values that subjects assign to different items. The activity of these neurons might facilitate the process of decision-making that occurs when someone chooses between different goods.

"We have long known that different neurons in various parts of the brain respond to separate attributes, such as quantity, color, and taste. But when we make a choice, for example: between different foods, we combine all these attributes--we assign a value to each available item," says Camillo Padoa-Schioppa, PhD, HMS research fellow in neurobiology and lead author of the paper. "The neurons we have identified encode the value individuals assign to the available items when they make choices based on subjective preferences, a behavior called 'economic choice.'".

Everyday examples of economic choice include choosing between working and earning more or enjoying more leisure time, or choosing to invest in bonds or in stocks. Such choices have long been studied by economists and psychology experts. In particular, research in behavioral economics shows that in numerous circumstances, peoples' choices violate the criteria of economic rationality. This motivates a currently growing interest for the neural bases of economic choice--an emerging field called "neuroeconomics." In general, it is believed that economic choice involves assigning values to available options. However, the underlying brain mechanisms are not well understood.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


April 23, 2006, 10:39 PM CT

Groups Perform Better Than The Best Individual

Groups Perform Better Than The Best Individual
Groups of three, four, or five perform better on complex problem solving than the best of an equivalent number of individuals, says a new study appearing in the recent issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, published by the American Psychological Association (APA). This finding may transfer to scientific research teams and classroom problem solving and offer new ways for students to study and improve academic performance, as per the study authors.

In this study 760 students from the University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign solved two letters-to-numbers coding problems as individuals or as groups of two, three, four and five people. Prior research has shown that groups perform better than the average individual on a wide range of problems. However, this study tested the relationship between group size and performance as compared to that of an equivalent number of individuals by comparing the number of trials to solutions and answers given for complex problems. The groups of three, four, and five performed better than the best of an equivalent number of individuals on the letters-to-numbers problems.

"We found that groups of size three, four, and five outperformed the best individuals and attribute this performance to the ability of people to work together to generate and adopt correct responses, reject erroneous responses, and effectively process information," said lead author Patrick Laughlin, PhD., of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source


April 22, 2006, 5:44 PM CT

Link Between Television Viewing and Overweight in Children

Link Between Television Viewing and Overweight in Children
Scientists from the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and Children's Hospital Boston found that kids who spend more time watching television also eat more of the calorie-dense, low-nutrient foods advertised on television. Prior studies had demonstrated that children who watch more television are more likely to be overweight, but this is the first time a research team has found evidence for a mechanism explaining that relationship. The study results appear in the April 2006 issue of the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine.

"We've known for a long time that television viewing is a risk factor for overweight, though the common perception is that this is due to the fact that it's a sedentary use of time," said Jean Wiecha, the study's lead author and a senior research scientist at HSPH. "This study provides evidence that television is effective in getting kids to eat the foods that are advertised, and this drives up their total calorie intake".

Wiecha and her colleagues collected baseline data on dietary patterns and television viewing habits for 548 Boston-area students in sixth and seventh grade and then repeated these measurements 19 months later. When surveying the students about their food intake, the scientists asked specifically about snacks and beverages usually advertised on television, such as soda, chips, fast food and baked snacks like cookies. Students were also asked to estimate the number of hours spent watching television each day of the week.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source



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Did you know?
Adolescents who suffer physical injuries are vulnerable to emotional distress in the months following their hospitalization, yet almost 40 percent of hospitalized adolescents interviewed for a new study had no source for the follow-up medical care that could diagnose and treat symptoms of post-traumatic stress. These young trauma survivors are at risk for high levels of post-traumatic stress and depressive symptoms, as well as high levels of alcohol use, according to research by researchers at the Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center.

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