Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Scientists find way to reverse aging in mice

Scientists in Boston have made an astounding discovery, taking aging rats and turning them young again, like tiny little Benjamin Buttons.

Just like the title character in the Hollywood film edition of "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," the mice appeared to not only stop aging but grow younger.

Molecular biologist Dr. Ronald DePinho at Harvard Medical School in Boston was able to pull off the feat by playing with "telomeres" -- the protective DNA caps on the end of our chromosomes.

The caps, which have long been implicated in aging, prevent our chromosomes from "fraying" and the genes within them from "unravelling."

Scientists have long known that a small bit of our telomeres erodes each time our cells divide. Previous research has shown that people with longer telomeres tend to live longer, whereas those with shorter telomeres suffer more from age-related diseases, such as Alzheimer's.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Eating Disorders Strike Younger and Younger

That was the explanation a current visitor to the Alliance for Eating Disorders Awareness in West Palm Beach, Fla. gave when asked why she starved herself to the point of hospitalization. She was eleven years old.

Anorexia and its sister-disorder, bulimia, have historically been thought of as striking white, middle to upper class teenage girls. But a current report from the American Academy of Pediatrics warns doctors that eating disorders are happening to younger girls -- and boys -- at an alarming rate.

"People tend to have this plan of who gets eating disorders, but an eating disorder doesn't discriminate between age, gender, race, or class," says Johanna Kandel, founder and director of the alliance.

Friday, November 26, 2010

More Protein, Fewer Refined Carbs May Keep Weight Off

If you've worked hard to shed those extra pounds and want to continue the weight off, a new Danish study suggests that you consider eating more protein and fewer refined carbohydrates.

Based on the findings, the researchers advise consuming mostly what's known as low-glycemic index carbohydrates, such as whole-grain breads. The glycemic index (GI) is a measure of the ability of carbohydrates to increase blood glucose levels; those with a low GI cause blood levels to raise more slowly, explained Dr. Thomas Meinert Larsen, a co-author of the study, published in the Nov. 25 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

What is it about the high-protein, low-glycemic index carbohydrate diet that keep weight under control? "Possibly a stronger satiating effect and more balanced blood sugar regulation," Larsen hypothesized.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Half of American Adults Headed for Diabetes by 2020, UnitedHealth Says

Half of all American adults are destined to develop diabetes or pre-diabetes by 2020 if they don't slim down, according to a dire new prediction that pegs the cost of their care at $3.35 billion by decade's ending.

Under the scenario, if present trends continue, the ranks of American adults with excessive blood sugar levels would swell from 93.8 million this year (about 28 million diabetics and 66 million more with pre-diabetes) to 135 million in 2020.

Sixty percent of the annual $500 billion burden of the obesity-driven diabetes epidemic would be borne by the U.S. government, according to "The United States of Diabetes," a provocative working paper produced by the Center for Health Reform & Modernization, part of the healthcare huge UnitedHealth Group Inc.

UnitedHealth issued the statement on the heels of an Oct. 22 forecast from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that as many as 1 in 3 adults could be diabetic by 2050. That's an enormous jump from present diabetes prevalence, which is 1 in 10 among adults.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Exercise Combo Best for Type 2 Diabetes

Variety in your exercises routine may be key to optimal diabetes management, new research suggests.

The study found that when people with type 2 diabetes did aerobic workout some days and resistance training on others, they had lower blood sugar levels after nine months than people who did either type of exercise alone.

"From a health perspective, the combination exercise program actually outshined the others," said the study's lead author, Dr. Timothy Church, director of preventive medicine research at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center at Louisiana State University System in Baton Rouge.

"We really thought that the walking group and the combination group would be similar, but the combination group was the only group that had significant development. They reduced their HbA1C levels, while also reducing the amount of diabetes medications," said Church.

The HbA1C test examines long-term (two to three months) blood sugar concentration. Unlike a fasting blood glucose test, the HbA1C indicates how well you've controlled your blood sugar over the past 8 to 12 weeks.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Fruits and Vegetables May Prolong Your Life

The study shows that eating foods rich in antioxidants, like vegetables and fruits, fights illness and may prolong life.

Researchers found that people with the maximum levels of the antioxidant alpha-carotene in their blood had a 39% lower risk of death from any cause, including heart disease and cancer, than those who had the lowest levels of the antioxidant during the 14-year study.

"These findings support increasing fruit and vegetable consumption as a means of preventing premature death," write researcher Chaoyang Li, MD, PhD, of the CDC and colleagues in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Alpha-carotene is part of a group of antioxidants known as carotenoids, which also includes beta-carotene and lycopene. Vegetables mainly high in alpha-carotene include yellow-orange vegetables, such as carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, and winter squash, and dark green vegetables, such as broccoli, green beans, green peas, spinach, turnip greens, collards, and lettuce.

Although before studies have suggested eating more fruits and vegetables is associated with a lower risk of disease, studies have not shown that taking beta-carotene supplements reduces the risk of dying from heart disease or cancer.

Researchers wanted to see if other carotenoids may also play a role in reducing the risk of diseases.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Mental illness Affects 1 in 5 Americans

Nearly one in five adult Americans has experienced mental illness in the past year, according to a fresh government survey, with women, the unemployed, and young adults more likely than others to be affected.

Among those one in five -- representing 45 million Americans -- the survey found that nearly 20%, or nearly 9 million, also had substance dependence or abuse problems in the before year.

The results are in the 2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Mental Health Findings conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), a public health agency within the Department of Health and Human Services.

"It's a sobering statement," says Peter Delany, PhD, director of the Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality at SAMHSA.

Access to care is wanting, with less than four in 10 of those with mental health problems in the past year getting mental health help, the survey found.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Survey: Americans Unhappy With Health Insurance

An worldwide survey shows that the U.S. leads the industrialized world in out-of-pocket medical expenses and lack of access to medical care due to costs.

Americans were more likely than people living elsewhere to report having trouble paying medical bills and going without needed medical care because it was too costly.

Satisfaction with health care was not much higher for insured Americans than for those without insurance, according to the survey by the health care study and advocacy group Commonwealth Fund.

Dissatisfaction with insurance was top in the U.S. than anywhere else.

Almost a third of those surveyed in the U.S. said they spent a lot of time dealing with health insurance paperwork or that their insurance denied claims or paid less than anticipated for a doctor’s visit, hospital stay, or procedure.

The survey included close to 20,000 adults living in the U.S., U.K., Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland.

After the U.S., the countries with the next highest dissatisfaction with health insurance were Germany and France, with 23% of respondents reporting problems. The country with the least dissatisfaction was Sweden, with 4% of those surveyed finding mistake with their health insurance.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Study: Antibiotics have little impact on child ear infections

Giving children antibiotics for ear infections does little to speed their recovery while raising the risk of some side effects, according to a study published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical organization.

The study found that 80 out of 100 otherwise healthy children would recover from an acute ear infection within a few days if given medication only to relieve pain or fevers. If all 100 were given antibiotics instead, 92 would be better in the same period, said Dr. Tumaini Coker, the study's lead author.

"But we would also expect three to 10 kids to develop rash and five to 10 to develop diarrhea," said Coker, a pediatrician at Mattel Children's Hospital at the University of California-Los Angeles.

Coker noted that the increased number of children in the study who benefited from treatment with antibiotics was similar to the number that could be expected to get side effects from the antibiotic treatment.

"Clinicians and parents need to know the benefits and side effects on how to manage their child's ear infection," Coker said.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Experimental drug could replace burdensome anti-stroke treatment warfarin

An experimental blood thinner called rivaroxaban is at least as good at preventing strokes as the old warhorse warfarin, which has been used for decades in people with erratic heartbeats, researchers said Monday. The medicine also sharply reduces the risk of major bleeding that is seen with warfarin.

Rivaroxaban and the freshly approved Pradaxa offer alternatives to the widely used warfarin, which frequently has unforeseeable interactions with food and people of certain genetic types and requires monthly laboratory tests to ensure safety.

An estimated 2.3 million Americans suffer from atrial fibrillation, in which the heart beats erratically and cannot pump blood effectively, causing blood clots to form. Most people with atrial fibrillation could benefit from the new drugs, experts said, and analysts estimate the market for drugs in this class could top $20 billion a year.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Stressful Jobs May Raise Women's Heart Attack Risk, Study Finds

Women who have taxing jobs with little control over their busy days are at higher risk for heart attacks or the need for coronary bypass surgery, new research suggests.

Furthermore, worrying about losing one's job also raised the odds of having cardiovascular disease risk factors such as high blood pressure and higher cholesterol levels -- but not real heart attacks, stroke or death, the researchers said.

The study, presented Sunday at the annual meeting of the American Heart Association in Chicago, breaks new ground for being one of the first to look at the effect of work-related stress on women's health. Most earlier studies have focused on men and, yes, those studies found that job stress upped males' odds for cardiovascular disease, too.

Women comprise roughly half of the U.S. workforce today, with 70 percent of all women holding some kind of job, said study senior author Dr. Michelle A. Albert, an associate physician at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

California Breaks 60 Year Old Whooping Cough Record

6,631 cases of whooping cough have been reported up to 9th November 2010 in California, breaking the earlier record of 6,613 in 1950 for the whole year. With another seven weeks until this year ends, it is doubtful that the 1947 figure of 9,394 will be surpassed. The present whooping cough rate across the state is 16.9 per 100,000 people. Of the 200 new reported cases over the last seven days, 63% are confirmed, 19% probable and 19% suspect.

Experts say that the incidence of whooping cough has been steadily rising over the last 25 years, mainly because of a falling number of people, children and babies getting their routine vaccinations. Unfortunately, ten people have died from whooping cough so far this year, all of them babies.

9 of the ten fatalities had not been vaccinated at all, and the other one was a 28-week premature baby who received his first DTaP dose at the age of two months, just 15 days before developing symptoms - too early for immunization to properly kick in. Nine of the babies who died were Hispanic. 90% of the fatalities were aged 2 months or less when disease symptoms started.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Omega-3's linked to a lower risk of gum disease

However, the researchers are hesitant to provide omega-3's full credit just yet, as other factors might be involved, too.

Advanced gum disease, known as periodontitis, is a chronic inflammation caused by the accumulation of bacteria at the gum line. The situation can lead to bone and tooth loss.

"The bacteria involved appear to need inflammation to grow," senior researcher Dr. Kenneth J. Mukamal of Harvard Medical School, Boston, told Reuters Health in an e-mail. "Indeed, anti-inflammatory treatment with omega-3's seems to help experimental periodontitis in rabbits. Our hope was to extend that to humans."

Mukamal and his colleagues studied more than 9,000 adults, every participants in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between 1999 and 2004.

About eight percent of the participants had gum disease, report the researchers in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.

Based on the participants' recalls of their diets over the previous 24 hours, the team found that those who consumed intermediate or high amounts of one of the major fish-derived omega-3 fatty acids, DHA, were less likely to have the disease.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Junk Food Diet Works

A two month experiment proves that it is very achievable to lose weight while eating like crap.

Nutrition professor Mark Haub, who teaches at Kansas State University wanted to see if eating a reduced calory diet full of junk food and the occasional piece of fruit could help him lose weight.

Not only did he finish up losing a bit of weight, he ended up losing a lot of weight, 27lbs in only eight weeks.

urthermore, his blood level of bad cholesterol dropped, and his blood level of good quality cholesterol increased.

Did he exercise to help weight loss? He says he did not do anything that he would not normally do.

His diet consisted of things that can be purchased from a vending machine, including: cookies, brownies and chips.

His moral of the story is that it is not what you eat, but how much of it you do eat.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Teens carry extra pounds into adulthood, add more

In a nationally representative study of American youth, researchers found that almost one in 12 teenagers became severely obese as they entered adulthood -- landing them some 100 pounds above their ideal weight.

And of those who were obese to begin with, about half the girls and more than a third of the boys grew into the larger-size category, raising their odds of developing heart disease, diabetes and certain types of cancers.

"People with severe obesity suffer from potentially life-threatening troubles," said Penny Gordon-Larsen, a nutrition scientist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, who led the research.

"The prevention efforts that we've had in the past maybe have not been as successful as we would have liked them to be," she added. "We truly need to prevent kids from becoming obese teenagers, and then prevent those teenagers from becoming severely obese adults."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, medical expenses related to overweight and obesity eat up about nine percent of total U.S. medical expenditures, amounting to $147 billion in 2008.

In the meantime, the national waistline is only getting bigger. Several states now have obesity rates of more than 30 percent, with Mississippi leading the pack at 34.4 percent of residents. Colorado, with the leanest population in the nation, still has an obesity rate of 18.6 percent.

Gordon-Larsen said weight-loss drugs -- even combined with diet and lifestyle changes -- are not very effective and have side effects. Surgery, such as gastric bypass or banding, lets people shed more pounds, but comes with a big price tag and potential complications.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Women delay getting help for heart attacks

Women experiencing heart attack symptoms delay going to hospital for almost three hours on an average, says a new study.

The US study confirms that women are more likely to ignore life-threatening symptoms because they think a heart attack is predominantly a 'male problem'.

A recent study found that fewer than a third of British women are aware that heart disease is the biggest killer of women, with nearly two-thirds believing they are more likely to die from breast cancer, reports the Daily Mail .

UK figures show heart and circulatory disease claims the lives of one in three women - three times more than breast cancer - as well as one in three men, according to the Archives of Internal Medicine.

The US research used data of 104,000 patients with heart attack symptoms from 568 hospitals between 2001 and 2006.

The average delay in arriving at hospital for treatment was 2.6 hours. About 60 percent of patients had a delay time longer than two hours, while 11 per cent arrived at hospital 12 hours after first experiencing the symptoms.

Lead researcher Henry Ting, of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, US, said longer delay times meant heart attack patients were less likely to get effective treatment, such as having a stent inserted into a blocked artery.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Eating red meat may boost risk of esophageal cancer, stomach cancer

Eating lots of red meat may increase risk of esophageal cancer
and stomach cancer, a new study published in the Oct 26, 2010 issue of American Journal Gastroenterology suggests.

The study led by Cross A.J. and colleagues of the Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics at the National Cancer Institute in Rockville, Maryland showed those whose intake of red meat was in the highest quintile were 79 percent more likely to be diagnosed with esophageal squamous cell carcinoma, compared with those whose intake was in the lowest quintile.

The study also found those whose intake of 2-amino-3,4,8-trimethylimidazo[4,5-f]quinoxaline (DiMeIQx) was in the highest quintile were 44 percent more likely to develop gastric cardia cancer compared with those whose intake was in the lowest quintile.

It should be noted that this is an observational study, meaning that a causal relationship between red meat consumption and elevated risk of esophageal cancer and stomach cancer was not established in the study.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Liver Shortage Fix? New Artificial Liver Seems to Work Like Real Thing

Frankenstein isn't going to show up at your door anytime soon, but scientists are having success creating artificial body parts - including tiny "bioengineered" livers that work just like the true thing - at least in the lab.

If the miniature livers can be shown to work inside the human body, experts say they could present a solution to the shortage of human livers available for patients who need liver transplants.

There are presently 16,000 Americans on the waiting list for a new liver, according to statistics reported by medpagetoday.

"We are excited about the possibilities this research represents, but must stress that we're at an early stage and several technical hurdles must be overcome before it could benefit patients," one of the scientists involved in the research, Dr. Shay Soker, professor of regenerative medicine at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, said in a written statement. "Not only must we study how to grow billions of liver cells at one time in order to engineer livers large enough for patients, but we must determine whether these organs are safe to use in patients."

To make the livers, the scientists treated animal livers with detergent to remove all the cells. Then they added human cells to the remaining liver "scaffold," and put everything inside a "bioreactor," a particular container that provides a constant flow of nutrients and oxygen throughout the developing organ.

After a week, the artificial liver seemed to be functioning like the true thing.

The similar basic approach might also be used to create artificial kidneys and pancreases, the scientists say, as well as to test the safety of new drugs.

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