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Friday, August 12, 2011

Depression Linked to Increased Risk of Stroke in Women

ScienceDaily

Friday, August 12, 2011

ScienceDaily (Aug. 12, 2011) — Depressed women may face an increased risk of stroke, according to new research reported in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association.

In six years of follow-up of women in the Nurses' Health Study, researchers found that a history of depression was associated with a 29 percent increased risk of total stroke -- even after considering other stroke risk factors. Women who used anti-depressant medication -- particularly selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors -- had a 39 percent increased risk of stroke. Examples of these drugs are Prozac, Zoloft, and Celexa.

Anti-depressant medication use may be an indicator of depression severity, said Kathryn Rexrode, M.D., the study's senior author and Associate Physician at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, Mass. "I don't think the medications themselves are the primary cause of the risk. This study does not suggest that people should stop their medications to reduce the risk of stroke."

Researchers followed 80,574 women 54 to 79 years old in the Nurses' Health Study from 2000-06 without a prior history of stroke. They assessed depressive symptoms multiple times with a Mental Health Index. Anti-depressant use was reported every two years beginning in 1996, and physicians diagnosed depression beginning in 2000.

Depression was defined as currently reporting or having a history of depression.

The reported prevalence of depression at baseline in the women was 22 percent, and 1,033 stroke cases were documented during six years of follow-up.

Compared to women without a history of depression, depressed women were more likely to be single, smokers and less physically active. They were also slightly younger, had a higher body mass index and more coexisting conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes.

"Depression can prevent individuals from controlling other medical problems such as diabetes and hypertension, from taking medications regularly or pursuing other healthy lifestyle measures such as exercise," said Rexrode, who is also Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. "All these factors could contribute to increased risk."

Depression may be associated with an increased risk of stroke through a variety of mechanisms. It may be linked to inflammation, which increases the risk of stroke as well as other conditions or underlying vascular disease in the brain, said An Pan, Ph.D., lead author of the study and a research scientist at the Harvard School of Public Health. "Regardless of the mechanism, recognizing that depressed individuals may be at a higher risk of stroke may help the physician focus on not only treating the depression, but treating stroke risk factors such as hypertension, diabetes and elevated cholesterol as well as addressing lifestyle behaviors such as smoking and exercise."

Among limitations of the study, the participants were predominantly white registered nurses, it excluded women without detailed information on depression measures and the participants with onset of stroke at a young age.

"We cannot infer cause or fully exclude the possibility that the results could be explained by other unmeasured unknown factors," Pan said. "Although the underlying mechanisms remain unclear, recognizing that depressed women may be at a higher risk of stroke merits additional research into preventive strategies in this group."

Other co-authors are Olivia I. Okereke, M.D.; Qi Sun, M.D., Sc.D.; Giancarlo Logroscino, M.D., Ph.D.; JoAnn E. Manson, M.D.; Walter C.Willett, M.D.; Alberto Ascherio, M.D.; and Frank B. Hu, M.D., Ph.D. Author disclosures are on the manuscript.

The National Institutes of Health/National Heart, Blood, Lung Institute funded the study.

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of ScienceDaily or its staff.

Story Source:

The above story is reprinted (with editorial adaptations by ScienceDaily staff) from materials provided by American Heart Association, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS.

Journal Reference:

An Pan, Olivia I. Okereke, Qi Sun, Giancarlo Logroscino, JoAnn E. Manson, Walter C. Willett, Alberto Ascherio, Frank B. Hu, and Kathryn M. Rexrode. Depression and Incident Stroke in Women. Stroke, August 11 2011 DOI: 10.1161/STROKEAHA.111.617043

Many Arthritis Patients May Not Be Exercising Enough

HealthDay News

Friday, August 12, 2011

FRIDAY, Aug. 12 (HealthDay News) -- Although being physically active is one of the best ways people with osteoarthritis can alleviate pain and improve their ability to get around, a new study shows that people with the joint disease are much more sedentary than previously thought.

Researchers from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine found that more than half of women and 40 percent of men with knee osteoarthritis are basically "couch potatoes," and not engaging in the physical activity that is vital to their health.

Using a small device called an accelerometer, researchers measured the physical activity of more than 1,000 people aged 49 to 84 with radiographic knee osteoarthritis for one week.

Although federal guidelines recommend that adults with arthritis participate in 150 minutes of moderate-intensity, low-impact activity each week (about 20 minutes per day), the study revealed that fewer than one in seven men, and only one in 12 women actually met those guidelines.

Meanwhile, 40.1 percent of men and 56.5 percent of women did not sustain 10 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous activity over the course of the week, and were therefore deemed "inactive."

These levels of physical activity were significantly lower than what had been reported in previous studies that relied on participants' self-reported accounts of exercise and activity.

"We had assumed that people might be overstating physical activity in past self-reported data, but were surprised to find that the physical activity rates were much, much lower than what was previously reported," study author Dorothy Dunlop, an associate professor of medicine at Feinberg, said in a university news release.

Dunlop said the findings, published in the August issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism, should be a "wake-up call" for doctors.

"Even though they have joint disease, patients need to be reminded that physical activity is actually good for them," Dunlop added. "People with arthritis should be as physically active as possible, even if they accomplish less than the recommended levels. When it comes to physical activity, there is good evidence that the benefits far outweigh the risks and being inactive is especially detrimental to health."

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides more information on arthritis and physical activity.

Higher Estrogen Production in the Breast Could Confer Greater Cancer Risk Than Thought

ScienceDaily

Friday, August 12, 2011

ScienceDaily (Aug. 12, 2011) — Could some women who naturally produce excess aromatase in their breasts have an increased risk of developing breast cancer? Results of a new animal study suggests that may be the case, say researchers at Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, a part of Georgetown University Medical Center.

In the issue of August 15 Cancer Research, the investigators say their mice study shows that overproduction of aromatase, which converts testosterone into estrogen, in breast tissue is even more important in pushing breast cancer development than excess production of the estrogen receptor that the hormone uses to activate mammary cells. In addition, the researchers found that aromatase over-expressing mice also expressed more estrogen receptors on the breast cells.

While current breast cancer therapies target both of those processes -- inhibition of aromatase and inactivation of the estrogen receptor -- the researchers say this study suggests that aromatase inhibitors may prove to be a more potent choice for cancer prevention in postmenopausal women. Tamoxifen and other drugs that block the estrogen receptor have long been used to prevent breast cancer and deter recurrence, while aromatase inhibitors are only now being studied as a protectant.

"We know that estrogen is the fuel that most breast tumors use to grow, and this study shows us that making more estrogen in the breast, right next to cells that can use the hormone as fuel, appears to be a key trigger of early breast cancer," says the study's senior investigator, Priscilla Furth, M.D., professor of oncology and medicine at Georgetown Lombardi.

The study also reached another important conclusion, says Edgar Díaz-Cruz, Ph.D., a postdoctoral researcher working in the Furth laboratory and first author of the study.

"This study appears to help inform a longstanding controversy about whether it is systemic estrogen or estrogen produced in the breast that is the primary risk factor for breast cancer," he says. "With our animal models, we've demonstrated that local production of estrogen in mammary tissue is potent enough to spur development of breast cancer, and does not require estrogen from the ovaries or produced from fat tissue, as had been hypothesized."

Their study set out to achieve two goals: to look at whether production of estrogen or production of estrogen receptors in the breast was more potent in breast cancer development, and to find more answers to the controversy alluded to by Díaz-Cruz.

To address these issues, the researchers developed the first "conditional" mouse model of aromatase production in mammary tissue. That means they inserted a gene into mice that expresses human aromatase in the animal's mammary tissue -- a gene the researchers can turn on or off.

They compared this new mouse model to one they had developed several years ago -- a conditional mouse model in which a gene that produces estrogen receptors (ER) could also be turned on and off.

While they study found that both mouse models experienced the earliest stages of tumor formation, known as preneoplasia, the aromatase over-expressing mice model exhibited both increased preneoplasia and outright development of cancer. These mice also expressed proteins that are tightly linked to cancer, Furth says.

The researchers also found, to their surprise, that aromatase over-expressing mice expressed more estrogen receptors than did the ER-conditional mice. "Increased aromatase produced both more estrogen and the receptors that the hormone needs to enter breast cells," says Díaz-Cruz. "This is obviously a greater risk for development of breast cancer than just over-expression of estrogen receptors."

"In our conditional mice, aromatase provides a double whammy -- more estrogen and more estrogen receptors," Furth notes.

These mice also over-expressed progesterone receptors, downstream targets of estrogen receptors that can be cancer-promoting in some settings, as shown in this study in the context of aromatase over-expression.

Furth notes that the amount of aromatase and estrogen receptors produced in these mice is high, but not higher than would be expressed in a woman with breast cancer. "These were not super large amounts. Comparable levels can be measured in women."

Finally, they tested the effect of local versus systemic estrogen on development of preneoplasia. The researchers made three comparisons: between mice in which the ER was over-expressed; mice that had excess estrogen due to aromatase; and mice that were given more estrogen systemically. "If we give extra systemic estrogen, we don't see any increased risk of breast cancer, but the risk increases with extra expression of ER, and is higher still with local production of aromatase," says Díaz-Cruz. "That suggests that estrogen production in the breast is an important risk factor for development of breast cancer."

What these results suggest for women is that if females vary in the amount of aromatase they naturally produce, as some studies suggest, then women with higher aromatase levels may be more susceptible to breast cancer, Furth says.

"Some day we may have a test available that can determine individual aromatase levels in postmenopausal women so that a preventive aromatase inhibitor can be prescribed to women at higher risk for breast cancer," she says.

The research was funded by the National Cancer Institute and a Susan G. Komen for the Cure Postdoctoral Fellowship grant awarded to Díaz-Cruz.

Co-authors include G. Ian Gallicano, Ph.D., director of the Transgenic Core Facility at GUMC, and Yasuro Sugimoto Ph.D. and Robert W. Brueggemeier Ph.D. from the College of Pharmacy at The Ohio State University.

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of ScienceDaily or its staff.

Story Source:

The above story is reprinted (with editorial adaptations by ScienceDaily staff) from materials provided by Georgetown University Medical Center, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS.

Journal Reference:

E. S. Diaz-Cruz, Y. Sugimoto, G. I. Gallicano, R. W. Brueggemeier, P. A. Furth. Comparison of Increased Aromatase versus ER  in the Generation of Mammary Hyperplasia and Cancer. Cancer Research, 2011; 71 (16): 5477 DOI: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-10-4652

Cardiologists Often Miss Heart Defects in Young Athletes: Study

By By Jenifer Goodwin
HealthDay Reporter

HealthDay News

Friday, August 12, 2011

FRIDAY, Aug. 12 (HealthDay News) -- About 76 young U.S. athletes collapse and die from sudden cardiac arrest during practice or a game every year, which has led some experts to call for mandatory electrocardiograms to screen players for possibly fatal heart defects.

But a recent study found that pediatric heart specialists don't always get it right when reading these tests, known as ECGs.

"What this does is add another layer of complication and confusion to the controversy," said first study author Dr. Allison Hill, a pediatric resident at Stanford University when she did the research. "Not only do ECGS not always show diseases that could lead to sudden cardiac death, but the people reading them are not always interpreting them correctly."

During an ECG, electrodes attached to the chest and limbs measure electrical impulses generated as the heart beats. ECGs can detect heart rhythm abnormalities and other conditions that could cause the heart to stop suddenly.

The most common cause of sudden cardiac death in young people is hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a thickening of the heart muscle that makes it more difficult to pump blood, Hill said. Other causes include myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart, and Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, which can lead to excessively rapid heart rate.

This study found that pediatric cardiologists missed dangerous heart abnormalities about 32 percent of the time and mistakenly diagnosed a heart abnormality in 30 percent of cases. High rates of inappropriate sports guidance could result from the errors, the researchers said.

For the study, recently published online in the Journal of Pediatrics, researchers asked 53 pediatric cardiologists to interpret 18 ECGs from teens with and without heart abnormalities. On average, doctors correctly interpreted 12.4 ECGs.

The doctors were also asked to determine if it was safe for the child to continue in sports. Some heart defects are more severe than others, and having a heart abnormality doesn't necessarily mean a child can't participate in athletics.

For about three-quarters of the teens without heart problems, doctors made the correct recommendation in giving them the all-clear to participate in sports.

Among those with heart defects, doctors were correct 81 percent of the time in restricting sports, but in 19 percent of cases, they would have approved participation even though it would have been dangerous to do so, Hill said.

"An ideal screening test is going to have 100 percent accuracy," said Hill, now a pediatric cardiologist at Children's Hospital Boston. "In this case, even when ECGs showed underlying cardiac disease, pediatric cardiologists were not always able to pick up on it."

Physicians were better at spotting some heart defects than others. Part of the difficulty in reading ECGs is that certain dangerous heart abnormalities mimic healthy changes in the hearts of athletes, Hill noted. A fit heart, for example, tends to grow larger and beat more slowly, but some abnormalities can cause a similar change.

The American Heart Association does not recommend mandatory ECG screening for U.S. youth athletes for several reasons, one being cost -- about $431 based on the Medicare reimbursement rate, according to background information in the study.

Instead, the AHA urges competitive athletes to undergo a medical history and physical exam every two years. ECGs are warranted in kids with a history of fainting, chest pain, trouble breathing, blood pressure issues or a family history of early heart disease or premature death, said Dr. Monica Kleinman, chair of the American Heart Association's Emergency Cardiovascular Care Committee and clinical director of the medical/surgical intensive care unit at Children's Hospital Boston.

Kleinman said that instead of mandatory ECG testing, providing automated external defibrillators (AEDs) at every school and youth sporting event -- and making sure that people know where they are and how to use them -- may go a longer way in preventing sudden cardiac death. AEDs are used in conjunction with CPR chest compressions to restart the heart.

"Having an AED at an athletic event is a very effective way of providing a safety net for those athletes at risk who never know it, and for those bystanders and coaches walking around with heart disease who may have sudden cardiac arrest," Kleinman said.

More information

ParentHeartWatch has more on children and sudden cardiac death.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Red Meat Linked to Increased Risk of Type 2 Diabetes

ScienceDaily

Thursday, August 11, 2011

ScienceDaily (Aug. 11, 2011) — A new study by Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) researchers finds a strong association between the consumption of red meat -- particularly when the meat is processed -- and an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. The study also shows that replacing red meat with healthier proteins, such as low-fat dairy, nuts, or whole grains, can significantly lower the risk.

The study, led by An Pan, research fellow in the HSPH Department of Nutrition, will be published online in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition on August 10, 2011 and will appear in the October print edition.

Pan, senior author Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at HSPH, and colleagues analyzed questionnaire responses from 37,083 men followed for 20 years in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study; 79,570 women followed for 28 years in the Nurses' Health Study I; and 87,504 women followed for 14 years in the Nurses' Health Study II. They also conducted an updated meta-analysis, combining data from their new study with data from existing studies that included a total of 442,101 participants, 28,228 of whom developed type 2 diabetes during the study. After adjusting for age, body mass index (BMI), and other lifestyle and dietary risk factors, the researchers found that a daily 100-gram serving of unprocessed red meat (about the size of a deck of cards) was associated with a 19% increased risk of type 2 diabetes. They also found that one daily serving of half that quantity of processed meat -- 50 grams (for example, one hot dog or sausage or two slices of bacon) -- was associated with a 51% increased risk.

"Clearly, the results from this study have huge public health implications given the rising type 2 diabetes epidemic and increasing consumption of red meats worldwide," said Hu. "The good news is that such troubling risk factors can be offset by swapping red meat for a healthier protein."

The researchers found that, for an individual who eats one daily serving of red meat, substituting one serving of nuts per day was associated with a 21% lower risk of type 2 diabetes; substituting low-fat dairy, a 17% lower risk; and substituting whole grains, a 23% lower risk.

Based on these results, the researchers advise that consumption of processed red meat -- like hot dogs, bacon, sausage, and deli meats, which generally have high levels of sodium and nitrites -- should be minimized and unprocessed red meat should be reduced. If possible, they add, red meat should be replaced with healthier choices, such as nuts, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, fish, or beans.

Worldwide, diabetes has reached epidemic levels, affecting nearly 350 million adults. In the U.S. alone, more than 11% of adults over age 20 -- 25.6 million people -- have the disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most have type 2 diabetes, which is primarily linked to obesity, physical inactivity, and an unhealthy diet.

Previous studies have indicated that eating processed red meats increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Risks from unprocessed meats have been less clear. For instance, in 2010, HSPH researchers found no clear evidence of an association between eating unprocessed meats and increased risk for either coronary heart disease or type 2 diabetes, but that study was based on smaller samples than the current study, and the researchers recommended further study of unprocessed meats. Another HSPH study in 2010 linked eating red meat with an increased risk of heart disease -- which is strongly linked to diabetes -- but did not distinguish between processed and unprocessed red meats.

This new study -- the largest of its kind in terms of sample size and follow-up years -- finds that both unprocessed and processed meats pose a type 2 diabetes risk, thus helping to clarify the issue. In addition, this study is among the first to estimate the risk reduction associated with substituting healthier protein choices for red meat.

"Our study clearly shows that eating both unprocessed and processed red meat -- particularly processed -- is associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes," said Pan. He noted that the 2010 U.S. dietary guidelines continue to lump red meat together with fish, poultry, eggs, nuts, seeds, beans, and soy products in the "protein foods" group. But since red meat appears to have significant negative health effects -- increased risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and even total mortality, as suggested by several recent studies -- Pan suggested the guidelines should distinguish red meat from healthier protein sources and promote the latter instead.

Support for the study was provided by the National Institutes of Health's National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of ScienceDaily or its staff.

Story Source:

The above story is reprinted (with editorial adaptations by ScienceDaily staff) from materials provided by Harvard School of Public Health. 

Journal Reference:

An Pan, Qi Sun, Adam M. Bernstein, Matthias B. Schulze, JoAnn E. Manson, Walter C. Willett, and Frank B. Hu. Red Meat Consumption and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes: 3 Cohorts of U.S. Adults and an Updated Meta-Analysis. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, August 10, 2011

Superbug more common in kids who've used antibiotics

By Frederik Joelving

Reuters Health

Thursday, August 11, 2011

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Kids who get lots of antibiotics from their doctors are more likely to harbor the MRSA superbug, although it's still rare, a new study of British youngsters has found.

While that doesn't prove the drugs are to blame for the antibiotic-resistant bacterium, it would make biological sense, researchers say.

"This just provides more evidence to support redoubling our efforts to decrease antibiotic use," Dr. Daniel J. Diekema, who was not involved in the new work, told Reuters Health.

MRSA, or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, first arrived in the U.S. in the 1960s. But it wasn't until 1980, when it infected a burn victim in a Seattle hospital and caused a devastating outbreak, that doctors realized how serious the situation really was.

It is estimated that in 2005, the bug caused severe infections in nearly 95,000 Americans and killed more than 18,500 of them.

While infections caught in hospitals have been declining in recent years, there is less certainty about those contracted outside hospitals -- so-called community-acquired MRSA.

"It remains a major public health problem, but the dramatic increase that we saw during the last decade seems to have leveled off in many areas and may be decreasing in some," said Diekema, an expert in infectious diseases at the University of Iowa in Iowa City.

To get a better idea about how MRSA infections arise outside of hospitals, Canadian researchers looked at data from more than 400 doctors' offices in the UK.

They'd already shown that adults with several antibiotic prescriptions were more likely to harbor MRSA later on, so this time they focused on kids who'd gotten the diagnosis between 1994 and 2007.

There were 4.5 MRSA cases per 100,000 children every year in the UK, although it wasn't clear from the data whether the children had active infections or just carried the bacteria on their skin, where they are harmless.

"In general, only a minority of people who carry MRSA go on to become infected," Diekema explained.

Of 297 children who tested positive for MRSA, more than half (53 percent) had been prescribed at least one antibiotic between 30 and 180 days before the diagnosis (the last 30 days were excluded to make sure the drug hadn't been used to treat

MRSA).

By contrast, only 14 percent of more than 9,000 kids who'd visited the same doctors but didn't have MRSA had recently been taking antibiotics.

After accounting for differences between the two groups of children -- such as hospital stays or other diseases they might have -- that amounted to a three-fold difference in the risk of harboring MRSA.

And the more antibiotics the children had been given, the more likely they were to be carrying the resistant bug. Those who got four or more prescriptions, for instance, had 18 times the risk of MRSA.

"Observational studies like this really can't prove causality," said Diekema. But he added that it was biologically plausible that antibiotic use would fuel the growth of resistant bacteria.

On the other hand, nearly half of the children who had the bug hadn't received any antibiotics in the half year before their diagnosis, the Canadian team reports in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

"This is an intriguing observation that we expect will generate some research into the mechanism of MRSA development," said Samy Suissa, of McGill University in Montreal, who led the new research.

In an email, he said it's important to curb the inappropriate use of antibiotics, which fight bacteria but have no effect on viruses.

"Parents should freely discuss with their physician if they feel that antibiotics may be overprescribed," Suissa told Reuters Health.

Source: http://bit.ly/qHXfTt

Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, online August 1, 2011.

Popular Muscle-Boosting Supplement Does Not Increase Blood Flow, Study Suggests

ScienceDaily

Thursday, August 11, 2011

ScienceDaily (Aug. 11, 2011) — A Baylor University study has found that a popular nutritional supplement that is marketed to lead to greater muscle strength through increasing blood flow to the muscle does not increase blood flow as claimed on the bottle.

In recent years, various nutritional supplements have been developed containing arginine-alpha-ketoglutarate (AAKG), which is alleged to increase nitric oxide production thereby resulting in "vasodilation," the widening of blood vessels and increased blood flow to the muscles. The AAKG supplement-enhanced blood flow to working muscles during resistance exercise is alleged to provide increased muscle strength than just exercise alone.

The Baylor researchers studied the effects in 24 men of seven days of AAKG supplementation using the nutritional supplement on arterial blood flow in the arms after a single bout of resistance exercise. The results showed that seven days of AAKG supplementation had no significant impact on blood movement or increased brachial artery blood flow in response to a single bout of resistance exercise.

"We did see a slight increase in blood flow but those effects can only be attributed to the resistance exercise and not to the supplement," said study author Dr. Darryn Willoughby, associate professor of exercise, nutritional biochemistry and molecular physiology at Baylor. "The data appear to refute the alleged supposition and manufacturer's claims that 'vasodilating supplements' are effective at causing vasodilation, thereby resulting in increased blood flow to active skeletal muscle during resistance exercise. Furthermore, we specifically demonstrated that a single bout of resistance exercise increases vasodilation, arterial blood flow and circulating nitric oxide levels, but that the AAKG supplement provided no additive, preferential response compared to a placebo."

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of ScienceDaily or its staff.

Story Source:

The above story is reprinted (with editorial adaptations by ScienceDaily staff) from materials provided by Baylor University.

Journal Reference:

Willoughby DS, Boucher T, Reid J, Skelton G, Clark M. Effects of seven days of arginine-alpha-ketoglutarate supplementation on blood flow, plasma L-arginine, nitric oxide metabolites, and asymmetric dimethyl arginine after resistance exercise. International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 21:291-99, 2011

New Bacteria Linked to Tattoo Infections

By By Alan Mozes
HealthDay Reporter

HealthDay News

Thursday, August 11, 2011

THURSDAY, Aug. 11 (HealthDay News) -- An investigation into skin lesions that two people developed after getting tattoos has concluded that both were infected with a bacteria not previously linked to the practice.

The infections involved Mycobacterium haemophilum, which usually only strikes individuals whose immune system are compromised. In this instance, however, the patients, both from Seattle, developed rashing despite the fact that both had normal immune systems, a report on the investigation found.

"Two people developed chronic skin infections after receiving tattoos at the same parlor," explained study lead author Dr. Meagan K. Kay from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "The patrons were thought to have been exposed through use of tap water during rinsing and diluting of inks."

Kay, an epidemic intelligence service officer with the CDC, and her team report their findings in the September issue of the CDC's journal Emerging Infectious Diseases.

The authors pointed out that tattooing is not considered a sterile procedure, is not regulated at the federal level and can be risky. And while the specific inks and colorings (pigments) commonly used to apply tattoos are regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the rules usually apply only when cosmetics or color additives are involved.

The latest concern about associated infection risk arose in 2009 when a 44-year-old man and a 35-year-old man sought care for skin infections that had developed at the site of tattoos acquired at a facility in the Seattle region.

Lesion cultures and lab testing revealed that M. haemophilum was the culprit in the case of the first patient. Skin evaluations and patient interviews led the researchers to conclude that the second man most probably also suffered from the same sort of bacterial infection, although they technically classified his situation as a "suspected case."

A follow-up investigation of the tattoo parlor revealed that municipal water had been used to dilute the ink during the tattooing process.

Water is considered to be a source for M. haemophilum. And though the facility was cleared of any safety violations, and no M. haemophilum bacteria was found in analyzed water samples, the tattoo operators were told to use sterile water for all future tattoo applications.

"It is important to remember that tattooing is not a sterile procedure and infections can occur after tattoo receipt," Kay said. "Measures should be taken by tattoo artists to prevent infections, including proper training, use of sterile equipment, and maintaining a clean facility. Use of tap water during any part of the tattoo procedure should be avoided," she explained.

"Those who suspect an infection in their tattoo should consult with their doctors," she added. "Common infections can present as increased redness, warmth, swelling, pain and discharge."

Myrna L. Armstrong, professor emeritus at the school of nursing at Texas Tech University's Health Sciences Center in Lubbock, said the investigation serves to highlight the general risks of getting a tattoo.

"This is an invasive procedure. And there's basically no regulation in force. Or very sporadic regulation. So as someone who's been looking into tattoos and body piercing for more than 20 years, I would say that it's really not very surprising that this can happen," Armstrong said.

"So while I'm not being negative to the industry, I do think that the customer does need to be aware of the situation he or she is getting into," she added. "Shop around, review people's techniques, and make sure [you] really want to have this done."

More information

For more on tattoo risks, visit the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Hysterectomy Can Elevate Risk of Stroke and Coronary Heart Disease, Study Suggests

ScienceDaily

Thursday, August 11, 2011

ScienceDaily (Aug. 11, 2011) — Hysterectomy elevates the risk of stroke and coronary heart disease in young women when combined with the removal of both ovaries in the same operation. This fact provides the background for the epidemiological report by Andreas Stang and colleagues on hysterectomy rates in Germany, which appears in the current issue of Deutsches Ärzteblatt International.

Removal of the uterus (hysterectomy) is among the commonest procedures in surgical gynecology. Stang et al. based their report on nationwide statistics relating to diagnosis-related groups (DRGs) in Germany for the years 2005 and 2006. They found that 4% of women under 50 who underwent hysterectomy for an indication other than cancer had a bilateral oophorectomy in the same operation, even though recent studies have shown that this is associated with an elevated risk of stroke and coronary heart disease.

The epidemiologists' assessment also revealed marked regional variation in hysterectomy rates across Germany. Fewer women underwent hysterectomy for benign indications in Hamburg, for example, than in Mecklenburg-West Pomerania over the same interval. Factors influencing the hysterectomy rate included not just the patient's concomitant illnesses, but also her social status and health insurance class and the sex of the gynecologist.

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of ScienceDaily or its staff.

Story Source:

The above story is reprinted (with editorial adaptations by ScienceDaily staff) from materials provided by Deutsches Aerzteblatt International, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS.

Journal Reference:

Andreas Stang, Ray M. Merrill, Oliver Kuss. Hysterectomy in Germany A DRG-Based Nationwide Analysis, 2005–2006. Deutsches Ärzteblatt International, 2011; 108(30): 508%u201314 DOI: 10.3238/arztebl.2011.0508

Chest pain severity not a heart attack indicator

By Allison Bond

Reuters Health

Thursday, August 11, 2011

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - A high degree of pain does not make it any more likely that someone coming into the emergency room with chest pains is having a heart attack, researchers found in a study of more than 3,000 patients.

The most severe chest pain was not a good predictor of which patients were actually having a myocardial infarction, or heart attack, nor of which patients were most prone to having one within the next month.

Conversely, "If chest pain isn't severe, that doesn't mean it's not a heart attack," said Dr. Anna Marie Chang, an author of the study and an emergency physician at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

Using a scale of zero to 10, with zero representing no pain and 10 being the worst imaginable, researchers gauged the pain levels of about 3,300 patients who arrived at the UPenn hospital emergency department complaining of chest pain. They then followed the patients for 30 days to see who had further heart-related events.

Patients with the most severe chest pain were no more likely to be having a heart attack, or to have one within the next month, than patients with lesser pain. Pain that lasted more than an hour was also not a useful sign of a heart attack versus other conditions.

Chest pain of any severity should be cause for concern, experts caution. Pain is a red flag for other serious health problems, too, such as stomach ulcers or a tear in the aorta, the heart's main artery, like the one that killed actor John Ritter in 2003.

"The cause of chest pain may or may not be a heart attack, but it could definitely be something serious," said Dr. James Feldman, an emergency physician at Boston Medical Center who was not involved in the study.

Classic heart attack symptoms do include chest pain or pressure, but other hallmarks are shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting and faintness.

Moreover, the pain of a heart attack doesn't always settle in the chest area.

"Pain may occur in the chest, arm, jaw, back or abdomen and may be described differently by different people," said Dr. Rajiv Gulati, a cardiologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, who was not involved in the study.

Although in the study pain severity wasn't a good indicator of who was having a heart attack at the hospital, having arrived at the emergency department in an ambulance was.

That may be because people tend to dismiss chest pain until they are having symptoms they deem serious enough to warrant calling emergency services, Feldman explained.

"If you are only waiting for crushing chest pain, you may wait to delay care, and that would be a problem," he said. "Any chest pain is a serious complaint and means you need to seek medical care right away."

"Unexplained chest discomfort should be taken seriously, regardless of the intensity of pain," Gulati agreed. "Early evaluation can save lives."

The current findings, published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine, could also help save doctors money by helping them judge who is and is not having a heart attack.

Failures to diagnose acute myocardial infarction account for 20 percent of malpractice claims paid out, the authors note, and some two to five percent of patients who are having heart attacks are inappropriately discharged from emergency departments.

Source: http://bit.ly/rsYHcU

Annals of Emergency Medicine, online August 1, 2011.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Breast Cancer Drug Raises Risk of Heart Problems in Older Women: Study

HealthDay News

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 10 (HealthDay News) -- The breast cancer drug Herceptin increases the risk of heart problems in elderly patients, especially those with a history of heart disease and/or diabetes, a new study says.

Researchers analyzed the medical records of 45 women, ages 70 to 92, who were treated with Herceptin (trastuzumab) since 2005 and found that 12 (26.7 percent) of them developed heart problems caused by the drug.

That rate is slightly higher than what was noted in earlier clinical trials of younger, healthier women.

In this new study, 33 percent of the women with a history of heart disease developed either asymptomatic or symptomatic heart problems as a result of taking Herceptin, compared with 9.1 percent of women without a history of heart disease.

The researchers also found that about 33 percent of women with diabetes developed heart problems, compared with 6 percent of diabetes-free women.

When the women with heart problems stopped taking Herceptin, all but one recovered fully and five were able to re-start treatment with the drug.

The study appears in the journal Annals of Oncology.

"This is the first study specifically to assess trastuzumab-related cardiac toxicity and the cardiovascular factors that are associated with an increased risk in a selected population of elderly breast cancer patients," study author Dr. Cesar Serrano, who conducted the research while working as a clinical fellow at the Department of Medical Oncology Breast Cancer Centre at the Vall d'Hebron University Hospital in Barcelona, Spain, said in a journal news release.

"Trastuzumab is generally well-tolerated and, although there are some concerns about it causing heart problems, until now few risk factors have been identified among patients in clinical trials, most of whom are usually younger than 70 years and have good general health. Our study has demonstrated a significantly increased incidence of cardiac events among patients aged 70 and over with cardiovascular risk factors such as a history of cardiac disease and diabetes," said Serrano, who is now a postdoctoral research fellow at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.

Serrano said the findings suggest that elderly women with one or more heart risk factors who are being treated with trastuzumab should be referred to a cardiologist. He also recommended closer monitoring of such patients for possible heart problems.

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about breast cancer treatment.

Low Vitamin D Linked to Earlier First Menstruation

ScienceDaily

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

ScienceDaily (Aug. 10, 2011) — A study links low vitamin D in young girls with early menstruation, which is a risk factor for a host of health problems for teen girls as well as women later in life.

Researchers from the University of Michigan School of Public Health measured the blood vitamin D levels in 242 girls ages 5-12 from Bogota, Colombia, and followed them for 30 months. Girls low on vitamin D were twice as likely to start menstruation during the study than those with sufficient vitamin D, said epidemiologist Eduardo Villamor, associate professor in the U-M SPH.

This is important for several reasons, Villamor said. Worldwide, there has been a slow decline in the age of the first menstruation, or menarche, for years, which Villamor says suggests an environmental cause, since the genetics that trigger puberty haven't changed.

"We know relatively little about what triggers puberty from an environmental perspective," Villamor said. "If we learn what is causing the decline in age of first menstruation, we may be able to develop interventions" to prevent premature menarche.

Early menstruation is a risk factor for behavioral and psychosocial problems in teens. Also, girls who have an earlier menarche appear to have increased risk of developing cardiometabolic diseases and cancer -- particularly breast cancer, as adults.

This study formally explored the link between vitamin D status of girls and the time of their first menstruation. Previous research has suggested that menarche happens later in girls living closer to the Equator than girls living in northern countries. Coincidentally, girls in northern countries may harbor high rates of vitamin D deficiencyduring winter months because of limited sun exposure.

In the research by Villamor and colleagues, 57 percent of the girls in the vitamin D-deficient group reached menarche during the study, compared to 23 percent in the vitamin D-sufficient group. In terms of age, girls who were low in vitamin D were about 11.8 years old when they started menstruating, compared to the other group at about age 12.6 years old. This 10-month difference is substantial, Villamor said, because even though 10 months may not seem like a long time, at that age a lot is happening rapidly to a young girl's body.

Still, while the results suggest a link between vitamin D and menarche, they have not established a causal relationship. It's necessary to do more studies to show if interventions that change girls' vitamin D status result in a change in their age of menarche.

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of ScienceDaily or its staff.

Story Source:

The above story is reprinted (with editorial adaptations by ScienceDaily staff) from materials provided by University of Michigan.

Journal Reference:

E. Villamor, C. Marin, M. Mora-Plazas, A. Baylin. Vitamin D deficiency and age at menarche: a prospective study. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2011; DOI: 10.3945/ajcn.111.018168

'Amazing' therapy wipes out leukemia in study

By Stephanie Nano

The Associated Press

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

NEW YORK (AP) — Scientists are reporting the first clear success with a new approach for treating leukemia — turning the patients' own blood cells into assassins that hunt and destroy their cancer cells.

They've only done it in three patients so far, but the results were striking: Two appear cancer-free up to a year after treatment, and the third patient is improved but still has some cancer. Scientists are already preparing to try the same gene therapy technique for other kinds of cancer.

"It worked great. We were surprised it worked as well as it did," said Dr. Carl June, a gene therapy expert at the University of Pennsylvania. "We're just a year out now. We need to find out how long these remissions last."

He led the study, published Wednesday by two journals, New England Journal of Medicine and Science Translational Medicine.

It involved three men with very advanced cases of chronic lymphocytic leukemia, or CLL. The only hope for a cure now is bone marrow or stem cell transplants, which don't always work and carry a high risk of death.

Scientists have been working for years to find ways to boost the immune system's ability to fight cancer. Earlier attempts at genetically modifying bloodstream soldiers called T-cells have had limited success; the modified cells didn't reproduce well and quickly disappeared.

June and his colleagues made changes to the technique, using a novel carrier to deliver the new genes into the T-cells and a signaling mechanism telling the cells to kill and multiply.

That resulted in armies of "serial killer" cells that targeted cancer cells, destroyed them, and went on to kill new cancer as it emerged. It was known that T-cells attack viruses that way, but this is the first time it's been done against cancer, June said.

For the experiment, blood was taken from each patient and T-cells removed. After they were altered in a lab, millions of the cells were returned to the patient in three infusions.

The researchers described the experience of one 64-year-old patient in detail. There was no change for two weeks, but then he became ill with chills, nausea and fever. He and the other two patients were hit with a condition that occurs when a large number of cancer cells die at the same time — a sign that the gene therapy is working.

"It was like the worse flu of their life," June said. "But after that, it's over. They're well."

The main complication seems to be that this technique also destroys some other infection-fighting blood cells; so far the patients have been getting monthly treatments for that.

Penn researchers want to test the gene therapy technique in leukemia-related cancers, as well as pancreatic and ovarian cancer, he said. Other institutions are looking at prostate and brain cancer.

Dr. Walter J. Urba of the Providence Cancer Center in Portland, Oregon, called the findings "pretty remarkable" but added a note of caution because of the size of the study.

"It's still just three patients. Three's better than one, but it's not 100," said Urba, one of the authors of an editorial on the research that appears in the New England Journal.

What happens long-term is key, he said: "What's it like a year from now, two years from now, for these patients."

But Dr. Kanti Rai, a blood cancer expert at New York's Long Island Jewish Medical Center, could hardly contain his enthusiasm, saying he usually is more reserved in his comments on such reports.

"It's an amazing, amazing kind of achievement," said Rai, who had no role in the research.

One of the patients, who did not want to be identified, wrote about his illness, and released a statement through the university. The man, himself a scientist, called himself "very lucky," although he wrote that he didn't feel that way when he was first diagnosed 15 years ago at age 50.

He was successfully treated over the years with chemotherapy until standard drugs no longer worked.

Now, almost a year since he entered the study, "I'm healthy and still in remission. I know this may not be a permanent condition, but I decided to declare victory and assume that I had won."

Online:

New England Journal: http://www.nejm.org

Science journal: http://stm.sciencemag.org

Organic Poultry Farms Have Lower Levels of Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria

HealthDay News

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 10 (HealthDay News) -- Poultry farms that have made the transition from conventional to organic farming have significantly lower levels of antibiotic-resistant bacteria than conventional poultry farms, a new study finds.

Scientists are concerned about the use of antibiotics in farm animals because it has been shown to contribute to antibiotic-resistant bacteria that can spread to humans.

The researchers said they expected to see some differences in the farm levels of antibiotic-resistant enterococci when poultry farms transitioned to organic practices.

"But we were surprised to see that the differences were so significant across several different classes of antibiotics -- even in the very first flock that was produced after the transition to organic standards," study leader Amy Sapkota, an assistant professor with the Maryland Institute for Applied Environmental Health, said in a university news release. "It is very encouraging."

The University of Maryland researchers tested 10 newly organic and 10 conventional poultry houses for the presence of enterococci bacteria in poultry litter, feed and water. Any enteroccoci bacteria found by the researchers was checked for resistance to 17 common antimicrobials.

"We chose to study enterococci because these microorganisms are found in all poultry, including poultry on both organic and conventional farms. The enterococci are also notable opportunistic pathogens in human patients staying in hospitals," Sapkota said.

As expected, enterococci bacteria was found at all the farms. However, the organic farms had much lower levels of single and multiple antibiotic-resistant enterococci.

The study was published online Aug. 10 in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

"While we know that the dynamics of antibiotic resistance differ by bacterium and antibiotic, these findings show that, at least in the case of enterococci, we begin to reverse resistance on farms even among the first group of animals that are grown without antibiotics. Now we need to look forward and see what happens over five years, 10 years in time," Sapkota said.

More information

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has more about antibiotic resistance. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Regular Exercise Helps Keep Leg Arteries Clear

HealthDay News

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

TUESDAY, Aug. 9 (HealthDay News) -- People with low lifetime levels of physical activity are at increased risk for peripheral artery disease (PAD), a new study has found.

People with PAD have narrowed leg arteries that reduce blood flow, which impairs the ability to walk.

The researchers checked for PAD in 1,381 patients referred for a test called an elective coronary angiography. The arterial condition was detected in 258 (19 percent) of these patients. The investigators then looked at the lifetime recreational activity (LRA) of the participants. The assessment of LRA included vigorous activities such as jogging, moderate activities such as golf, and light activities such as strolling.

PAD was nearly twice as common among the least active patients (25.6 percent) than among those who were physically active (13.7 percent). After factoring in other risk factors, the researchers determined that patients who reported no regular LRA had a 1.5 times increased risk of developing PAD.

The study is published in the August issue of the Journal of Vascular Surgery.

"Our study is the first to reveal that a person's level of recreational activity is associated with whether or not they develop PAD," co-author Dr. John P. Cooke, a professor of medicine at Stanford University's Falk Cardiovascular Research Center, said in a journal news release.

About 8 to 12 million people in the United States have PAD.

"Based on our study, it seems likely that people who regularly engage in recreational activity (even mild exercise such as strolling) throughout their lives are much less likely to develop lifestyle-limiting and limb-threatening PAD," Cooke said in a news release from the Society for Vascular Surgery.

More information

The American Heart Association has more about peripheral artery disease.

Flaxseed May Be Effective in Protecting Against Harmful Effects of Radiation

ScienceDaily

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

ScienceDaily (Aug. 9, 2011) — Flax has been part of human history for well over 30,000 years, used for weaving cloth, feeding people and animals, and even making paint. Now, researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania have discovered that it might have a new use for the 21st century: protecting healthy tissues and organs from the harmful effects of radiation. In a study just published in BMC Cancer, researchers found that a diet of flaxseed given to mice not only protects lung tissues before exposure to radiation, but can also significantly reduce damage after exposure occurs.

"There are only a handful of potential mitigators of radiation effect, and none of them is nearly ready for the clinic," says the principal investigator Melpo Christofidou-Solomidou, PhD, research associate professor of Medicine, Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Division. "Our current study demonstrates that dietary flaxseed, already known for its strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, works as both a mitigator and protector against radiation pneumonopathy."

In several separate experiments, the researchers fed one group of mice a diet supplemented with 10 percent flaxseed, either three weeks before a dose of X-ray radiation to the thorax or two, four, or six weeks after radiation exposure. A control group subjected to the same radiation dose was given the same diet but receiving an isocaloric control diet without the flaxseed supplement. After four months, only 40 percent of the irradiated control group survived, compared to 70 to 88 percent of the irradiated flaxseed-fed animals. Various studies of blood, fluids, and tissues were conducted.

Dr. Christofidou-Solomidou and her colleagues found that the flaxseed diet conferred substantial benefits regardless of whether it was initiated before or after irradiation. Mice on flaxseed displayed improved survival rates and mitigation of radiation pneumonitis, with increased blood oxygenation levels, higher body weight, lower pro-inflammatory cytokine levels, and greatly reduced pulmonary inflammation and fibrosis.

The latter finding is especially exciting, because while radiation-induced inflammatory damage can be potentially treated with steroidal therapy (in radiotherapy patients for example), lung fibrosis is essentially untreatable. "There's nothing you can give to patients to prevent fibrosis," Dr. Christofidou-Solomidou points out. "Once a lung becomes "stiff" from collagen deposition, it's irreversible. We have discovered that flaxseed not only prevents fibrosis, but it also protects after the onset of radiation damage."

Dr. Christofidou-Solomidou and her colleagues are focusing further research on the bioactive lignan component of flaxseed, known as SDG (secoisolariciresinol diglucoside), which is believed to confer its potent antioxidant properties. The lignan component also "regulates the transcription of antioxidant enzymes that protect and detoxify carcinogens, free radicals and other damaging agents," she says.

Flaxseed boasts many other qualities that make it particularly attractive as a radioprotector and mitigator. "Flaxseed is safe, it's very cheap, it's readily available, there's nothing you have to synthesize," Dr. Christofidou-Solomidou notes. "It can be given orally so it has a very convenient administration route. It can be packaged and manufactured in large quantities. Best of all, you can store it for very long periods of time." That makes it especially interesting to government officials looking to stockpile radioprotective substances in case of accidental or terrorist-caused radiological disasters.

Co-author Keith Cengel, MD, PhD, assistant professor of Radiation Oncology at Penn, explains that in such cases, "a big issue is the 'worried well' -- all the folks who probably weren't exposed but are concerned and want to do something." Many potential radioprotectors, however, could have risky side effects. Dr. Christofidou-Solomidou adds, "When you give something to 4 or 5 million 'worried well,' you have people with preexisting medical conditions. You can't give just anything to people with heart disease, for example. But this is absolutely safe. In fact, it is known to increase cardiovascular health, a finding shown by another group of Penn investigators a few years ago. It's loaded with omega-3 fatty acids."

Along with other researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine, the authors are conducting further pilot studies on the potential of flaxseed for mitigation of lung damage in patients awaiting lung transplants and those undergoing radiation therapy for the treatment of intra-thoracic malignancies. Dr. Christofidou-Solomidou is even conducting a pilot study for NASA on the benefits of flaxseed for astronauts on extended deep space missions. Lengthy space exploration missions require that the astronauts perform extravehicular activities (EVAs) for repairs, during which they can face exposure to high levels of solar and galactic radiation with the added risk factor of breathing 100 percent oxygen. "Hyperoxia superimposed with radiation could potentially cause some lung damage and some reason to worry for the astronauts," she says. "We are one of a handful of teams in the US that can study radiation in addition to hyperoxia. So now we're adding another level of complexity to the one-hit, radiation damage studies; the double-hit model is something novel, nobody has done it before."

The researchers are already convinced enough to incorporate flaxseed into their own routine. "I actually eat it every morning," says Dr. Cengel, noting, "The potential health benefits are significant and there is no known toxicity -- it just makes good sense to me."

The study is funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) under a grant initiative focused on the development of novel medical countermeasures to prevent or mitigate pulmonary injury or restore function after exposure to ionizing radiation.

Disclaimer: Views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of ScienceDaily or its staff.

Story Source:

The above story is reprinted (with editorial adaptations by ScienceDaily staff) from materials provided by University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS.

Journal Reference:

Melpo Christofidou-Solomidou, Sonia Tyagi, Kay-See Tan, Sarah Hagan, Ralph Pietrofesa, Floyd Dukes, Evguenia Arguiri, Daniel F Heitjan, Charalambos C Solomides, Keith A Cengel. Dietary flaxseed administered post thoracic radiation treatment improves survival and mitigates radiation-induced pneumonopathy in mice. BMC Cancer, 2011; 11 (1): 269 DOI: 10.1186/1471-2407-11-269

Factors Before Birth Can Determine Child's Risk of Allergies: Study

HealthDay News

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

TUESDAY, Aug. 9 (HealthDay News) -- Key factors that affect a child's risk of developing allergies by age 2 include race, a mother's exposure to pets during pregnancy and the method of delivery, a new study suggests.

Researchers at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit followed 1,187 newborns and measured levels of the antibody immunoglobulin E (IgE) in blood samples collected from the babies at birth, 6 months, 1 year and 2 years.

IgE is associated with the development of allergies and asthma; higher levels indicate increased risk.

The study found that IgE levels during infancy were 28 percent lower in children whose mothers were exposed to indoor pets during pregnancy (indoor prenatal pet exposure) compared to babies from pet-free homes.

IgE levels were 16 percent lower in infants who had indoor prenatal pet exposure and were born vaginally compared to infants who had indoor prenatal pet exposure and were delivered by cesarean section.

IgE levels were 33 percent lower in infants of European, Asian or Middle Eastern descent who had indoor prenatal pet exposure, compared to 10 percent lower in black infants with indoor prenatal pet exposure.

The study was published online Aug. 8 in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

"We believe having a broad, diverse exposure to a wide array of microbacteria at home and during the birthing process influences the development of a child's immune system," senior study author Christine Cole Johnson, chair of the Department of Public Health Sciences, said in a hospital news release.

The finding supports what's known as the hygiene hypothesis, a theory that early childhood exposure to infectious agents affects immune system development and the risk of allergies and asthma, she added.

More information

The Nemours Foundation has more about allergies in children.

Healthy Lunch and Breakfast Keep Students Alert

HealthDay News

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

TUESDAY, Aug. 9 (HealthDay News) -- As parents prepare to send their children back to school, they need to remember that nutrition is an important factor in academic performance, an expert advises.

Studies have shown that children who eat healthy, balanced breakfasts and lunches are more alert throughout the school day and also earn higher marks than those who have an unhealthy diet, says Mary Pat Alfaro, clinical manager of the division of nutrition therapy at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, in a center news release.

A healthy breakfast includes a variety of foods such as fiber-rich and whole-grain cereals with low fat milk; yogurt and berries; toast, eggs and 100 percent fruit juice; or whole wheat bagels and cream cheese with low-fat milk.

When packing lunches, use the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Guide Pyramid, Alfaro suggests. Include at least two servings from the bread group and one serving from each of the other food groups.

One way to prevent children from becoming bored with their lunches is to use pitas, bagels, English muffins, crackers or tortillas to make sandwiches instead of using bread all the time.

Alfaro also suggests packing fruit such as grapes, strawberries, apple wedges or melon chunks that's quick and easy to eat. Including a toothpick and a dipping sauce made with yogurt can coax reluctant fruit eaters to try it.

Children should be encouraged to drink low-fat white milk or plain or sugar-free flavored water. They should not drink beverages with added supplements such as herbs and caffeine, Alfaro says.

More information

The Nemours Foundation has more about children and healthy eating.

Curry Spice Could Offer Treatment Hope for Tendinitis

ScienceDaily

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

ScienceDaily (Aug. 9, 2011) — A derivative of a common culinary spice found in Indian curries could offer a new treatment hope for sufferers of the painful condition tendinitis, an international team of researchers has shown.

In a paper due to be published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, the researchers at The University of Nottingham and Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich have shown that curcumin, which also gives the spice turmeric its trademark bright yellow colouring, can be used to suppress biological mechanisms that spark inflammation in tendon diseases.

Dr Ali Mobasheri of the University's School of Veterinary Medicine and Science, who co-led the research, said: "Our research is not suggesting that curry, turmeric or curcumin are cures for inflammatory conditions such as tendinitis and arthritis. "However, we believe that it could offer scientists an important new lead in the treatment of these painful conditions through nutrition. Further research into curcumin, and chemically-modified versions of it, should be the subject of future investigations and complementary therapies aimed at reducing the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, the only drugs currently available for the treatment of tendinitis and various forms of arthritis."

Tendons, the tough cords of fibrous connective tissue that join muscles to bones, are essential for movement because they transfer the force of muscle contraction to bones. However, they are prone to injury, particularly in athletes who may overstretch themselves and overuse their joints. Tendinitis (or tendonitis) is a form of tendon inflammation, which causes pain and tenderness near to joints and is particularly common in shoulders, elbows, knees, hips, heels or wrists. Other examples of common tendon disease include tennis and golfer's elbow and Achilles tendinitis.

The global incidence of tendinitis is on the increase in line with the rise in aging and inflammatory diseases. It is also linked to other arthritic and rheumatic diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis or metabolic diseases such as diabetes.

The only treatment is to relieve pain and reduce inflammation and the only medicines which are effective in treating tendinitis are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), such as aspirin or ibuprofen. In more serious cases of tendon injury, steroid injections can be given directly into the tendon sheath to control pain and enable physical therapy to start.

However, NSAIDS and steroids are associated with undesired side effects including stomach ulcers, nausea, vomiting, heartburn, headache, diarrhea, constipation, drowsiness and fatigue. Consequently, there is an acute need for new treatments with fewer debilitating side effects.

This latest research centres on curcumin, a key ingredient of the spice turmeric, which has been used for centuries in traditional Indian or 'Ayurvedic' medicine as an anti-inflammatory agent and remedy for symptoms related to irritable bowel syndrome and other disorders.

More recently, studies have linked curcumin to potential uses in treating arthritis and a range of rheumatic diseases and, potentially, even as an agent to kill cancer cells directly or make them more sensitive to killing by chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

The Nottingham-Munich study used a culture model of human tendon inflammation to study the anti-inflammatory effects of curcumin on tendon cells. The main objective of the study was to observe the effects that curcumin had on the inflammatory and degenerative properties induced by signalling molecules called interleukins. Interleukins are a type of small cell-signalling protein molecules called cytokines that can activate a whole series of inflammatory genes by triggering a dangerous 'switch' called NF-kB.

The results showed that introducing curcumin in the culture system inhibits NF-kB and prevents it from switching on and promoting further inflammation.

The results follow on from another study by the Nottingham-Munich collaboration, published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry earlier this year, demonstrating that a compound found in red wine could have therapeutic potential for osteoporosis related bone loss in elderly patients, post-menopausal women and patients with rheumatoid arthritis.

The research found that resveratrol, a naturally occurring phytoestrogen found in the skin of red grapes, vines and various other fruits and nuts, inhibits inflammation in bone cells. Its effects extended to inhibiting the formation of osteoclasts, giant congregations of blood-derived cells responsible for bone degeneration, especially in osteoporosis in later life. Resveratrol prevented NF-kB from switching on to trigger inflammation.

The results suggest that resveratrol plays a pivotal role in regulating the balance between the formation of new bone and bone loss, which can lead to weak or brittle bones.

The findings are an important step in the search for new drugs to treat conditions such as osteoporosis, which are currently treated using medications including calcium and vitamin D supplements and a class of drugs known as bisphosphonates. Post-menopausal women can also benefit from hormone replacement therapy (HRT), however, it is associated with a large number of side-effects ranging from headaches to behavioural changes and acne and long-term use can increase the risk of developing uterine cancer.

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of ScienceDaily or its staff.

Story Source:

The above story is reprinted (with editorial adaptations by ScienceDaily staff) from materials provided by University of Nottingham.

Journal Reference:

C. Buhrmann, A. Mobasheri, F. Busch, C. Aldinger, R. Stahlmann, A. Montaseri, M. Shakibaei. Curcumin Modulates Nuclear Factor  B (NF- B)-mediated Inflammation in Human Tenocytes in Vitro: ROLE OF THE PHOSPHATIDYLINOSITOL 3-KINASE/Akt PATHWAY. Journal of Biological Chemistry, 2011; 286 (32): 28556 DOI: 10.1074/jbc.M111.256180

High-Fiber Diet Might Lower Risk for Colon Polyps

HealthDay News

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

TUESDAY, Aug. 9 (HealthDay News) -- People who regularly eat legumes, brown rice, cooked green vegetables and dried fruit have a reduced risk of colon polyps, a precursor to colon cancer.

That's the finding of California researchers who analyzed data from 2,818 people who were followed for 26 years. During that time, 441 cases of rectal/colon polyps were detected among the participants.

The risk of polyps was 40 percent lower among those who ate brown rice at least once a week and 33 percent lower among those who eat legumes (a class of vegetables that includes beans, peas and lentils) at least three times a week, the Loma Linda University team found.

Eating dried fruit three times or more a week, compared to less than once a week, was associated with a 26 percent reduced risk. Eating cooked green vegetables once a day or more, vs. less than five times a week, was associated with a 24 percent reduced risk, according to the report published online in the journal Nutrition and Cancer.

"Eating these foods is likely to decrease your risk for colon polyps, which would in turn decrease your risk for colorectal cancer," study author Dr. Yessenia Tantamango, a postdoctoral research fellow, said in a university news release.

"While a majority of past research has focused on broad food groups, such as fruits and vegetables, in relation to colon cancer, our study focused on specific foods, as well as more narrowed food groups, in relation to colon polyps, a precursor to colon cancer. Our study confirms the results of past studies that have been done in different populations analyzing risks for colon cancer," Tantamango said.

"Legumes, dried fruits and brown rice all have a high content of fiber, known to dilute potential carcinogens," Tantamango noted. "Additionally, cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, contain detoxifying compounds, which would improve their protective function."

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases has more about colon polyps.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Molecular Pathway That Leads to Inflammation in Asthma Identified

ScienceDaily

Monday, August 8, 2011

ScienceDaily (Aug. 8, 2011) — Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine have identified a molecular pathway that helps explain how an enzyme elevated in asthma patients can lead to increased mucus production and inflammation that is characteristic of the lung condition. Their findings, reported online in this week's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, reveal unique interactions between biological molecules that could be targeted to develop new asthma treatments.

An enzyme called epithelial 15-lipoxygenase 1 (15LO1) metabolizes fatty acids to produce an eicosanoid known as 15 hydroxyeicosaetetranoic acid (15 HETE) and is elevated in the cells that line the lungs of asthma patients, explained Sally E. Wenzel, M.D., professor of medicine, Pitt School of Medicine, and director of the Asthma Institute at UPMC and Pitt School of Medicine. Her team showed in 2009 that the enzyme plays a role in mucus production.

"In this project, we found out 15 HETE is conjugated to a common phospholipid," she said. "That complex, called 15HETE-PE, and 15LO1 behave as signaling molecules that appear to have a powerful influence on airway inflammation."

By examining lung cells obtained by bronchoscopy from 65 people with asthma, the researchers found that both 15LO1 and 15HETE-PE displace an inhibitory protein called PEBP1 from its bond with another protein called Raf-1, which when freed can lead to activation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase(ERK). Activated ERK is commonly observed in the epithelial, or lung lining, cells in asthma, but until now the reason for that was not understood.

"This is an important study as it directly explores the important role of 15-lipoxygenase 1 in the airway epithelial cells of patients with asthma, which immediately establishes the relevance to human disease," said Mark T. Gladwin, M.D., chief, Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine, UPSOM.

Other experiments showed that knocking down 15LO1 decreased the dissociation of Raf-1 from PEBP1, which in turn reduced ERK activation. The pathway ultimately influences the production of factors involved in inflammation and mucus production.

"These results show us on both a molecular and mechanistic level and as mirrored by fresh cells from the patients themselves that the epithelial cells of people with asthma are very different from those that don't have it," Dr. Wenzel said. "It also gives us a potential treatment strategy: If we can prevent Raf-1 displacement, we might have a way of stopping the downstream consequences that lead to asthma."

Co-authors include Jinming Zhao, Ph.D., Silvana Balzar, M.D., Claudette M. St. Croix, Ph.D., and John B. Trudeau, B.S., of UPSOM and the Asthma Institute; and Valerie B. O'Donnell Ph.D., of Cardiff University, United Kingdom. The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the American Heart Association.

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of ScienceDaily or its staff.

Story Source:

The above story is reprinted (with editorial adaptations by ScienceDaily staff) from materials provided by University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS.

Life-Threatening Leg Clots Run in Families, Study Shows

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

HealthDay News

Monday, August 8, 2011

MONDAY, Aug. 8 (HealthDay News) -- People who have two or more siblings who have suffered blood clots in deep veins such as those in the legs and pelvis -- a disease known as venous thromboembolism (VTE) -- have a relative risk 50 times higher for developing such clots themselves, Swedish researchers report.

Individuals with only one sibling with VTE are two times as likely to suffer the dangerous blood clots.

This is the first study in a large population to show that the risk for VTE runs in families, the researchers say. VTE causes blood clots called deep vein thrombosis, which, if they break loose, can travel to the heart, lungs or brain and, if untreated, tend to be fatal.

"We found genetic factors are important in the risk for VTE," said lead researcher Dr. Bengt Zoller, an associate professor, at the Center for Primary Health Care Research at Lund University in Malmo.

"A sibling history of VTE is an important risk factor for VTE," he said. However, Zoller pointed out that most people who develop a VTE don't have a family history of the condition.

While the relative risk is very high, the absolute risk is much lower. In the general population, the absolute risk for VTE is 3 in 10,000 each year and for those whose family history puts them at high risk it is 15 in 10,000, each year, Zoller said.

The report is published in the Aug. 8 online edition and the Aug. 30 print issue of Circulation.

For the study, Zoller's team collected data on 45,362 people who were hospitalized with VTE. Among these people, 2,393 had a brother or sister who also had a history of the condition.

The researchers found that for those aged 10 to 19 years, there was a five times greater risk of VTE if they had a sibling who had had a VTE, compared with those who didn't have this family history. For older patients, those 60 to 69, the risk was twice as high.

Taking into account age differences between siblings, Zoller's group determined that no environmental factor played a role in the increased risk of VTE.

In addition, while VTE was found in both men and women, the rate was higher among women, especially those 10 to 40 years old. After 50, however, the risk was higher in men than women, the researchers noted.

Risk factors for VTE include surgery, heart failure, smoking, obesity, cancer, long periods of inactivity (such as when driving or flying), sitting or lying in bed, fractures in the legs or hip and taking birth control pills.

Modifying these risk factors can lower your risk for VTE, Zoller said. After heart attack and stroke, VTE is the most common cardiovascular illness and affects one in 1,000 people each year, the researchers said.

Commenting on the study, Dr. Jack Ansell, chairman of the department of medicine at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, said that "the study confirms a lot of what we know, but it also provides impetus to greater investigation of genetic and non-genetic factors."

However, Ansell noted that genetics is not the whole story. "There are many individuals with inherited predisposition that never have a problem, so it's not an all or none phenomenon," he said.

Conversely, if you don't have a family history of VTE, that doesn't mean that you will not have one, Ansell said. "There are clearly people who have no risk for a VTE who end up with an event due to acquired factors like an accident or cancer," he said.

This study should not cause people to panic, as the risk for having a VTE is low regardless of family history, Ansell said.

However, he added that people with a family history of VTE should let their doctor know before undergoing any surgery. This will allow the doctor to take preventive measures to prevent the risk of clotting.

More information

For more information on deep vein thrombosis, visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

Molecular Pathway That Leads to Inflammation in Asthma Identified

ScienceDaily

Monday, August 8, 2011

ScienceDaily (Aug. 8, 2011) — Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine have identified a molecular pathway that helps explain how an enzyme elevated in asthma patients can lead to increased mucus production and inflammation that is characteristic of the lung condition. Their findings, reported online in this week's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, reveal unique interactions between biological molecules that could be targeted to develop new asthma treatments.

An enzyme called epithelial 15-lipoxygenase 1 (15LO1) metabolizes fatty acids to produce an eicosanoid known as 15 hydroxyeicosaetetranoic acid (15 HETE) and is elevated in the cells that line the lungs of asthma patients, explained Sally E. Wenzel, M.D., professor of medicine, Pitt School of Medicine, and director of the Asthma Institute at UPMC and Pitt School of Medicine. Her team showed in 2009 that the enzyme plays a role in mucus production.

"In this project, we found out 15 HETE is conjugated to a common phospholipid," she said. "That complex, called 15HETE-PE, and 15LO1 behave as signaling molecules that appear to have a powerful influence on airway inflammation."

By examining lung cells obtained by bronchoscopy from 65 people with asthma, the researchers found that both 15LO1 and 15HETE-PE displace an inhibitory protein called PEBP1 from its bond with another protein called Raf-1, which when freed can lead to activation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase(ERK). Activated ERK is commonly observed in the epithelial, or lung lining, cells in asthma, but until now the reason for that was not understood.

"This is an important study as it directly explores the important role of 15-lipoxygenase 1 in the airway epithelial cells of patients with asthma, which immediately establishes the relevance to human disease," said Mark T. Gladwin, M.D., chief, Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine, UPSOM.

Other experiments showed that knocking down 15LO1 decreased the dissociation of Raf-1 from PEBP1, which in turn reduced ERK activation. The pathway ultimately influences the production of factors involved in inflammation and mucus production.

"These results show us on both a molecular and mechanistic level and as mirrored by fresh cells from the patients themselves that the epithelial cells of people with asthma are very different from those that don't have it," Dr. Wenzel said. "It also gives us a potential treatment strategy: If we can prevent Raf-1 displacement, we might have a way of stopping the downstream consequences that lead to asthma."

Co-authors include Jinming Zhao, Ph.D., Silvana Balzar, M.D., Claudette M. St. Croix, Ph.D., and John B. Trudeau, B.S., of UPSOM and the Asthma Institute; and Valerie B. O'Donnell Ph.D., of Cardiff University, United Kingdom. The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the American Heart Association.

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of ScienceDaily or its staff.

Story Source:

The above story is reprinted (with editorial adaptations by ScienceDaily staff) from materials provided by University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS.

Soy may not provide relief during menopause: study

By Genevra Pittman

Reuters Health

Monday, August 8, 2011

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Taking soy supplements may not help women ease their menopause symptoms or prevent the bone changes that start at that time of life, suggests a new study from Florida.

Women who took the supplements every day for two years didn't have any improvement in their symptoms compared with those who took a soy-free placebo pill -- and they suffered more hot flashes by the end of the study.

Researchers also didn't see any changes in their bone mineral density compared to women taking placebos. Low bone mineral density puts women at higher risk of osteoporosis and broken bones.

Women seeking relief from menopause symptoms have been without a clear go-to treatment since the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) study of hormone therapy reported heart and cancer risks with estrogen and progestin use.

Previous studies have shown that soy supplements don't have those same added risks. But the studies have also found mixed results on soy's ability to slow bone weakening and ease hot flashes and other menopause symptoms.

"What prompted us to do this study was in the wake of WHI when many of our patients stopped using hormone therapy," said Dr. Silvina Levis, the study's lead author from the Miller School of Medicine, University of Miami.

"Many of them had just gone to a health food store and started on soy supplements," she told Reuters Health. "The study was started to try to answer a simple question: will these soy isoflavone tablets help women with the issues they were concerned with?"

Levis and her team randomly split 248 women who had recently hit menopause into two groups. For two years, half of the women took 200 milligrams of soy isoflavones every day -- about twice the amount that would be in a soy-rich diet. The other half took placebo pills. None of them knew whether they were getting the real or sham treatment.

Most of the participants were Hispanic, and 182 completed the study.

At their two-year visit, women in both groups had lost the same amount of bone density in their spine and hip since starting the study. They also reported a similar number of menopause symptoms, except more women in the soy group said they had hot flashes -- 48 percent of them, compared to 32 percent in the placebo group.

Women taking the daily soy supplements also reported some of the stomach and digestion problems, such as constipation, that have been linked to soy before, Levis said. But there were no serious side effects related to the supplements, the authors report in Archives of Internal Medicine.

The soy tablets can be bought for about 25 to 50 cents per day.

"When we started the study we wanted this to work, because it would provide an easy and healthy way to help women in the initial stages of menopause," Levis said.

However, "we didn't see any protection from bone loss or any relief from menopause symptoms." After this, she added, "maybe women will reconsider" taking soy tablets during menopause.

William Wong, a nutritionist at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston who didn't participate in the new study, agreed. "The scientific evidence is telling them that they might not receive any benefit" from extra soy, he told Reuters Health.

Wong, whose research has also shown a lack of effect of soy during menopause, said that doesn't mean soy couldn't have health benefits over a longer period of time -- such as if girls started getting more of it during puberty.

Medications including certain anti-depressants may provide relief for menopause symptoms in some women, Levis said. For bone health, Wong recommended regular physical activity, combined with calcium and vitamin D supplements.

Source: http://bit.ly/fO01ME

Archives of Internal Medicine, online August 8, 2011.

Why the Human Heart Can't Regenerate Itself

ScienceDaily

Monday, August 8, 2011

ScienceDaily (Aug. 8, 2011) — Stem cell researchers at UCLA have uncovered for the first time why adult human cardiac myocytes have lost their ability to proliferate, perhaps explaining why the human heart has little regenerative capacity.

The study, done in cell lines and mice, may lead to methods of reprogramming a patient's own cardiac myocytes within the heart itself to create new muscle to repair damage, said Dr. Robb MacLellan, a researcher with the Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at UCLA and senior author of the study.

Unlike newts and salamanders, human adults cannot spontaneously regrow damaged organs such as the heart. However, recent research suggests that mammals do have the ability to regenerate the heart for a very brief period, about the first week of life. But that ability is quickly lost. But if we had it once, MacLellan said, maybe it is possible to regain that ability.

Published in the Aug. 8 issue of the peer-reviewed Journal of Cell Biology, MacLellan's study suggests it might be possible to turn back the cellular clock to a time when cardiac myocytes had the ability to proliferate and re-grow heart muscle.

"These salamanders and other lower organisms have the ability to de-differentiate cardiac myocytes, or take them back to an earlier, more primitive state, which allows them to re-enter the cell cycle, creating new heart muscle," said MacLellan, who also is an associate professor of cardiology and physiology. "In mammals, we've lost that potential. If we knew how to restore that, or knew the reason why adult myocytes can't do it, we could try to figure out a way to use nature's methods to regenerate the heart."

During human development, cardiac myocytes are made by progenitor stem cells and proliferate to form the heart. Once the heart is formed, the myocytes transform from immature cells into mature cells that cannot proliferate. That's not so for newts and salamanders, whose cardiac myocytes can go back and forth between immature, or primitive, states to proliferate and repair damage and then revert back into mature cells once the damage is repaired.

MacLellan believes the reason adult human cardiac myocytes can't do this is quite simple -- when the myocytes are in a more primitive state, they are not as good at contracting, which is vital for proper heart function. Because humans are much larger than newts and salamanders, we needed more heart contraction to maintain optimum blood pressure and circulation.

"The way we evolved, in order to maintain blood pressure and flow we had to give up the ability to regenerate the heart muscle," MacLellan said. "The up side is we got more efficient cardiac myocytes and better hearts. But it was a trade-off."

MacLellan said that by temporarily knocking down the proteins that block the cell cycle mechanism, it may be possible to get adult cardiac myocytes to re-enter the cell cycle and revert to a state where they can again proliferate. These therapies would need to be reversible so that the effects of the protein manipulation eventually wear off once the damage is repaired. Then myocytes would become mature again and aid in contracting the regenerated heart muscle. MacLellan currently is looking into using nanoparticles to deliver small interfering RNA to the heart to knock out the proteins that are keeping the myocytes mature.

When a heart attack occurs, oxygen is cut off to part of the heart, causing the cardiac myocytes to die and resulting in scar tissue. It's easy to locate the damaged area of the heart, and if a way could be developed to reprogram a patient's own myocytes, the protein manipulation system could be injected into the damaged area, reverting the myocytes to their primitive state and replacing the dead muscle with new, living muscle, MacLellan said.

"People have been talking about the regenerative potential of these lower organisms for a long time and why this does not occur in humans" MacLellan said. "This is the first paper that provided a rationale and mechanism for why this happens."

There has been much talk of using human embryonic stem cells or reprogrammed induced pluripotent stem cells to regenerate the heart. However, it's unknown how much regeneration is possible and how much benefit would come from it.

"From my point of view, this is a potential mechanism to regenerate heart muscle without having to harvest or expand stem cells," MacLellan said. "Each person would be their own source for cells for regeneration."

The five-year study was funded by the National Institutes of Health.

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of ScienceDaily or its staff.

Story Source:

The above story is reprinted (with editorial adaptations by ScienceDaily staff) from materials provided by University of California - Los Angeles Health Sciences, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS.

Journal Reference:

P. Sdek, P. Zhao, Y. Wang, C.-j. Huang, C. Y. Ko, P. C. Butler, J. N. Weiss, W. R. MacLellan. Rb and p130 control cell cycle gene silencing to maintain the postmitotic phenotype in cardiac myocytes. The Journal of Cell Biology, 2011; 194 (3): 407 DOI: 10.1083/jcb.201012049

Study of Bone Cancer in Dogs May Improve Treatment in Kids

HealthDay News

Monday, August 8, 2011

MONDAY, Aug. 8 (HealthDay News) -- The discovery of a gene pattern that distinguishes highly aggressive bone cancer in dogs from a less aggressive form may help improve treatment of bone cancer in children, according to researchers.

Other than humans, dogs are the only species that develops bone cancer spontaneously with any frequency. Dogs are more likely than humans to develop bone cancer, but human and dog forms of bone cancer are very similar, explained study team leader Dr. Jaime Modiano, a comparative medicine expert at the College of Veterinary Medicine and Masonic Cancer Center at the University of Minnesota.

The newly discovered gene pattern in dogs is an exact match with humans and may assist in treatment planning for children with bone cancer, according to the report in the September issue of the journal Bone.

"Our findings pave the way to develop laboratory tests that can predict the behavior of this tumor in dogs and children at the time of diagnosis," Modiano said in a university news release. "This allows us to tailor individualized therapy to meet the patient's needs. Patients with less aggressive disease could be treated conservatively, reducing the side effects and the risks associated with treatment, while patients with more aggressive disease could be treated with more intense therapy."

The course and aggressiveness of bone cancer can vary from patient to patient and is difficult to predict. Some patients respond well to conventional treatment and live for decades without recurrence, while others have a poor response and experience a rapid return of bone cancer, the release noted.

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about bone cancer.

Scientists find new ovarian cancer gene

By Kate Kelland

Reuters

Monday, August 8, 2011

LONDON (Reuters) - Women who carry a faulty copy of a gene called RAD51D have an almost one in 11 chance of developing ovarian cancer, scientists said on Sunday in a finding they called the most significant ovarian cancer gene discovery for more than 10 years.

Tests to identify those at highest risk are expected to be available within a few years, according to Cancer Research UK, and may lead some women to decide to have their ovaries removed in order to beat the disease.

The finding should also speed the search for new drugs.

Laboratory experiments already suggest that cells with faulty RAD51D are sensitive to PARP inhibitors - a new class of drugs designed to target cancers caused by faults in two known breast and ovarian cancer genes, BRCA1 and BRCA2.

Several large drugmakers, including Abbott , Merck, Pfizer , Sanofi-Aventis and AstraZeneca , are developing PARP inhibitors, which work by blocking DNA repair mechanisms in cancer cells, stalling the cell cycle and leading to cell death.

Data released in May showed that one of these, AstraZeneca's olaparib, was able to slow the progression of ovarian cancer in a mid-stage clinical trial.

For the latest study, researchers from Britain's Institute of Cancer Research compared the DNA of women from 911 families with ovarian and breast cancer to DNA from a control group of more than 10,000 people from the general population.

They found eight faults in the RAD51D gene in women with cancer, compared with only one in the control group.

"Women with a fault in the RAD51D gene have a one in 11 chance of developing ovarian cancer," said Nazneen Rahman of the Institute of Cancer Research and The Royal Marsden in London, who led the study and published its findings in the journal Nature Genetics.

Ovarian cancer can remain hidden for a long time and thus is often not discovered until it is advanced.

An estimated 230,000 women worldwide are diagnosed with ovarian cancer each year. Most are not diagnosed before the cancer has spread, and up to 70 percent of them die within five years.

Because of this, Rahman said, women with the faulty gene may decide their best option is to have their ovaries removed after they have children - particularly if they have already seen other family members die of the disease.

Speaking to Reuters in a telephone interview she said the identification of RAD51D pointed to PARP inhibitors as a new class of drugs that might offer fresh hope. Initial tests in the laboratory found that cells with faulty RAD51D were highly sensitive to this class of drugs.

"PARP inhibitors work because they were designed to target DNA repair pathways," she said. "They haven't been used in patients in that context yet but we would predict they would behave in the same way."

Source: http://bit.ly/rdeooV

Nature Genetics, online August 7, 2011.

Early Morning Smokers Have Increased Risk of Lung and Head and Neck Cancers, Study Finds

ScienceDaily

Monday, August 8, 2011

ScienceDaily (Aug. 8, 2011) — Two new studies have found that smokers who tend to take their first cigarette soon after they wake up in the morning may have a higher risk of developing lung and head and neck cancers than smokers who refrain from lighting up right away.

Published early online in Cancer, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society, the results may help identify smokers who have an especially high risk of developing cancer and would benefit from targeted smoking interventions to reduce their risk.

Cigarette smoking increases one's likelihood of developing various types of cancers. But why do only some smokers get cancer? Joshua Muscat, PhD, of the Penn State College of Medicine in Hershey, and his colleagues investigated whether nicotine dependence as characterized by the time to first cigarette after waking affects smokers' risk of lung and head and neck cancers independent of cigarette smoking frequency and duration.

The lung cancer analysis included 4,775 lung cancer cases and 2,835 controls, all of whom were regular cigarette smokers. Compared with individuals who smoked more than 60 minutes after waking, individuals who smoked 31 to 60 minutes after waking were 1.31 times as likely to develop lung cancer, and those who smoked within 30 minutes were 1.79 times as likely to develop lung cancer.

The head and neck cancer analysis included 1,055 head and neck cancer cases and 795 controls, all with a history of cigarette smoking. Compared with individuals who smoked more than 60 minutes after waking, individuals who smoked 31 to 60 minutes after waking were 1.42 times as likely to develop head and neck cancer, and those who smoked within 30 minutes were 1.59 times as likely to develop head and neck cancer.

These findings indicate that the need to smoke right after waking in the morning may increase smokers' likelihood of getting cancer. "These smokers have higher levels of nicotine and possibly other tobacco toxins in their body, and they may be more addicted than smokers who refrain from smoking for a half hour or more," said Dr. Muscat. "It may be a combination of genetic and personal factors that cause a higher dependence to nicotine."

According to the authors, because smokers who light up first thing in the morning are a group that is at high risk of developing cancer, they would benefit from targeted smoking cessation programs. Such interventions could help reduce tobacco's negative health effects as well as the costs associated with its use.

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of ScienceDaily or its staff.

Story Source:

The above story is reprinted (with editorial adaptations by ScienceDaily staff) from materials provided by Wiley-Blackwell, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS.

Journal References:

Joshua E. Muscat, Kwangmi Ahn, John P. Richie, Steven D. Stellman. Nicotine dependence phenotype, time to first cigarette, and risk of head and neck cancer. Cancer, 2011; DOI: 10.1002/cncr.26235

Joshua E. Muscat, Kwangmi Ahn, John P. Richie, Steven D. Stellman. Nicotine dependence phenotype and lung cancer risk. Cancer, 2011; DOI: 10.1002/cncr.26236

No link between MS, narrow blood vessels: study

Reuters Health

Monday, August 8, 2011

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - A new study provides more evidence that multiple sclerosis (MS) is not caused by a blood vessel condition, as some research has suggested.

The new findings follow a study last month in which Dr. Ellen Marder from the Dallas Veterans Affairs Medical Center and her colleagues reviewed the current literature on the condition, called chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency, or CCSVI. They couldn't find any convincing data to suggest that narrowing blood vessels in CCSVI are behind MS.

Based on those findings, Marder's group said MS patients should not undergo surgery to open up those blood vessels (see Reuters Health report of July 14, 2011).

Now they've reported on another study, in which they found that people with MS are no more likely to have signs of CCSVI on ultrasound tests than people without MS.

The researchers say the results -- and recent reports from other investigators -- "call into question" whether CCSVI actually does play a role in causing MS, and whether there's really any point in trying to treat the blood vessel condition.

In Archives of Neurology, they summarize the history of the suggested link between MS and CCSVI. In 2009, Italian researchers first suggested that people with MS were more likely to have narrowing of the veins that run from the brain and spine to the heart -- which could cause some blood to leak back into the brain.

Doctors then proposed that correcting the situation through surgery might ease MS symptoms, such as movement and balance problems.

But more recent studies haven't shown clearly whether people with MS are more likely than others to have CCSVI, or whether an invasive vessel-opening surgery could have any benefit.

In their current study, Marder's team took ultrasound images inside and outside the brains of 18 people with MS -- all U.S. veterans -- and another 11 people of the same age and gender without MS. On those scans, they looked for the proposed signs of CCSVI, including a lack of blood flow -- or backward blood flow -- in veins in the head and neck, as well as narrowing of those veins.

Four MS patients had one of those signs show up on their ultrasounds -- but so did four people in the comparison group.

"We don't think (CCSVI) is the cause of multiple sclerosis," Marder recently told Reuters Health. "We would not advise our patients to be tested for this or act on any recommendations based on this sort of testing."

Still, some researchers have continued pushing for a link between MS and CCSVI, and a few doctors have started offering procedures to MS patients to open their veins -- surgeries typically given to people at risk of heart attack that carry bleeding and infection risks.

Timothy Coetzee, chief research officer at the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, said there are still conflicting opinions about what role CCSVI might play in the disease -- and that while this study adds evidence to that debate, it doesn't shut the door on it.

"In my mind the jury's still somewhat out on what it means for MS," he told Reuters Health.

His organization has handed out over $2 million to fund research on CCSVI, and Coetzee said he hopes those studies will help "draw some conclusions" on what the condition might mean for MS care. "We need to be sure that ideas are tested and validated because of the impact that has on people" with MS, he said.

In the end, he added, what matters most is that people with MS talk with their own doctors about the best treatment for their condition.

Source: http://bit.ly/rjuK4V

Archives of Neurology, online August 8, 2011.

New Brain Tumor Gene Identified for Meningiomas

ScienceDaily

Monday, August 8, 2011

ScienceDaily (Aug. 8, 2011) — The causes of brain tumours have been hard to discern in most cases. But Umeå University researchers in Sweden and their colleagues have previously identified an inherited predisposition for brain tumours. Now, in an international collaboration, they have also discovered a genetic variation that increases the risk of a certain type of brain tumour, called meningiomas.

Approximately 1,400 people are affected annually by tumours of the brain in Sweden and twenty per cent of those are afflicted with meningioma. The tumour itself is usually benign, but it can cause severe symptoms owing to of its location and because it is sometimes malignant. It arises from the meninges, and it is more common among women.

The study included samples from a total of 1,633 patients with meningiomas in Sweden, Germany, England, and Denmark. The results were published July 31 in the journal Nature Genetics.

The gene variant is close to MLLT10 on chromosome 10, a gene known to be involved in hematologic tumours. This gene has not previously been linked to increased risk of tumours.

"With more research we will be able to examine the function of these variants and whether they correlate with environmental factors, such as ionizing radiation, since the only environmental factor known previously for meningiomas is higher doses of ionizing radiation," says Beatrice Melin.

Co-authors of the study at Umeå University are researchers Beatrice Melin, Ulrika Andersson, Roger Henriksson, and Thomas Brännström.

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of ScienceDaily or its staff.

Story Source:

The above story is reprinted (with editorial adaptations by ScienceDaily staff) from materials provided by Expertanswer (Expertsvar in Swedish), via AlphaGalileo.

Journal Reference:

Sara E Dobbins, Peter Broderick, Beatrice Melin, Maria Feychting, Christoffer Johansen, Ulrika Andersson, Thomas Brännström, Johannes Schramm, Bianca Olver, Amy Lloyd, Yussanne P Ma, Fay J Hosking, Stefan Lönn, Anders Ahlbom, Roger Henriksson, Minouk J Schoemaker, Sarah J Hepworth, Per Hoffmann, Thomas W Mühleisen, Markus M Nöthen, Susanne Moebus, Lewin Eisele, Michael Kosteljanetz, Kenneth Muir, Anthony Swerdlow, Matthias Simon, Richard S Houlston. Common variation at 10p12.31 near MLLT10 influences meningioma risk. Nature Genetics, 2011; DOI: 10.1038/ng.879