Sunday, August 31, 2008


Frankincense Reduces Knee Arthritis Pain
DAVIS, Calif. (UPI) -- An enriched extract of "Indian Frankincense," or the herb Boswellia serrata, has been shown to reduce the symptoms of osteoarthrits, U.S. researchers said. B. serrata has been used for thousands of years in the Indian system of traditional medicine. The study, published in the journal Arthritis Research & Therapy, found patients taking the herbal remedy showed significant improvement in as little as seven days. Dr. Siba Raychaudhuri of the University of California, Davis, said the high incidence of adverse affects associated with available medications for osteoarthritis -- the most common form of arthritis -- has created great interest in the search for an effective and safe alternative treatment. The 90-day, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study was conducted on 90 people to evaluate the efficacy and safety of 5-Loxin -- an enriched extract of B. serrata in the treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee. At the end of the study, both doses of 5-Loxin conferred clinically and statistically significant improvements in pain scores and physical function scores in the patients.

Copyright 2008 by United Press International

Saturday, August 30, 2008


Chlorine-resistant Bug Threatens Swimmers
ATLANTA (UPI) -- The national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta is focusing on ways to fight a chlorine-resistant parasite in U.S. pools and water parks. Called Cryptosporidium, or crypto for short, the parasite is found in human and animal feces and is easily transmitted through water, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday. When ingested, crypto can cause diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, headaches and low-grade fever for as long as two weeks. Outbreaks have been increasing over the past two decades prompting the CDC to work with industry representatives and public health officials to develop a new set of water-safety guidelines. Jonathan Yoder of the CDC says the fact that chlorine doesn't kill crypto requires both swimmers and pool officials to shift their thinking. "It's important for them to understand they can transmit illness when they swim when they're ill," Yoder said. Some water parks, like Seven Peaks in Provo, Utah, have installed ultraviolet systems that can kill crypto and other parasites.

Copyright 2008 by United Press International

Friday, August 29, 2008


Patient Dumping Outlawed in Los Angeles
LOS ANGELES (UPI) -- A new Los Angeles ordinance requires hospitals to obtain patients' written permission before moving them anywhere other than their homes, officials said. Los Angeles medical centers have come under fire for allegations of hospital workers transporting homeless patients to shelters before they are healthy enough to be without medical treatment, The Wall Street Journal reported Saturday. Hospital officials say they are worried that if they are convicted of violating the law, their facilities could be left out of vital federal health programs. They have also voiced concerns about whether or not hospitals can afford to hold homeless patients who do not have homes. "The most important thing is to get culture change in the way that hospitals discharge patients," said a spokesman for Rockard J. Delgadillo, a Los Angeles city attorney whose office is conducting probes of about 50 dumping allegations that occurred before June 30, when the ordinance was put in place.

Copyright 2008 by United Press International

Thursday, August 28, 2008


Surgeon Wants Clarity of Donor Law
LONDON (UPI) -- The man who will soon head organ transplantation in Britain says the law that surgeons should consider a donor's best interests needs to be broadened. Dr. Chris Rudge, a former transplant surgeon, says the definition of a patient's best interest should include honoring a wish that his or her organs be used to help others, The Times of London reported Monday. As an example, Rudge said broadening the definition would permit a critical care doctor to keep a patient alive an hour or two longer to enable organs to be collected.

"Doctors are ethically obliged to behave in a way that is in the patient's best interests. But the law does not define clearly what that means," he told The Times. "I would like to see a recognition that a patient's best interests can encompass aspects beyond the purely medical."

Rudge will assume the newly created post of national clinical director for transplantation next month. He is charged with increasing organ donation by 50 percent in five years, The Times said.

Copyright 2008 by United Press International

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


'Office of the future' = weight loss
MINNEAPOLIS (UPI) -- A study of a real-life U.S. office re-engineered to increase daily physical activity resulted in employee weight loss and more profits, researchers said. The six-month study of non-exercise activity thermogenesis, known as NEAT, at SALO LLC, a financial staffing firm based in Minneapolis, involved 45 employee volunteers -- 18 were studied for weight loss and other changes. The re-engineering included removing chairs and traditional desk seating, introducing walking tracks, encouraging staff to conduct meetings while walking, replacing traditional phones with mobile sets, adding desks attached to treadmills, introducing games in the workplace, providing high-tech activity monitors and advising staff about nutrition. Mayo Clinic endocrinologist Dr. James Levine said the 18 participants lost a total of 156 pounds, 143 of that in body fat. Individuals lost an average of 8.8 pounds -- 90 percent was fat. Triglycerides decreased by an average of 37 percent and the nine participants who had expressed a desire to lose weight lost an average of 15.4 pounds. Another key finding was that no productivity was lost. In fact, company officials said revenue rose nearly 10 percent during the first three months of the study, and the company recorded its highest-ever monthly revenue in January 2008 -- the study's midpoint.
Copyright 2008 by United Press International

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


Family meals linked to less girl drug use
MINNEAPOLIS (UPI) -- Parents regularly sharing meals with their teenage girls may help lessen the risk the girls will smoke or drink, U.S. researchers say. The study, published in the Journal of Adolescent Medicine, found no significant difference in substance use between boys who had regular family meals and those who did not. The researchers surveyed 806 Minnesota adolescents -- 45.4 percent boys and 54.6 percent girls -- about meals and use of marijuana, cigarettes and alcohol in 1998 to 1999 at about age 13. They followed up with a mailed survey five years later. In the second survey, girls reporting five or more family meals per week had significantly less substance use than did the females who did not have regular family meals. The girls who had regular meals had about half the odds of substance use.

"Unfortunately we don't really know why we see this benefit for girls and not boys," study lead author Marla Eisenberg of the University of Minnesota said in a statement. "There is some evidence that girls and boys communicate and interact differently with their families, so it's possible that the conversations about behavioral expectations or the subtle 'checking in' that can happen during shared meals might be understood differently by girls and boys."

Copyright 2008 by United Press International

Monday, August 25, 2008


Hour of exercise needed to keep weight off
PITTSBURGH (UPI) -- Overweight or obese women may need 55 minutes of exercise a day five days weekly to sustain a weight loss of 10 percent over two years, U.S. researchers say. John M. Jakicic of the University of Pittsburgh and colleagues enrolled 201 overweight and obese women in a weight-loss intervention from 1999-2003. All the women were told to eat 1,200-1,500 calories per day. They were then assigned to one of four groups based on physical activity amount -- burning 1,000 calories versus 2,000 calories per week and intensity -- moderate versus vigorous. After six months, women in all four groups had lost an average of 8 percent to 10 percent of their initial body weight. However, most weren't able to sustain this weight loss. The study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, found 25 percent of individuals who did maintain a loss of 10 percent or more over two years reported performing more physical activity -- an average of 1,835 calories per week or 275 minutes per week over the baseline level of activity -- than those who lost less weight.

Copyright 2008 by United Press International

Sunday, August 24, 2008


Your Health: Opioid Abuse and Addiction Among Americans on the Rise
Rallie McAllister, M.D., M.P.H.
Abuse of narcotic painkillers is a rapidly growing problem in the United States. According to the National Institutes of Health, inappropriate use of these medications has more than doubled since the early '90s.

Amber, a 33-year-old native of Stanford, Ky., is recovering from her addiction to prescription painkillers. After abusing OxyContin and other opioid drugs for more than six years, she lost everything she cared about.

"I lost my husband and my job because I stayed high all the time," she said. "Then I lost my house and my car because I spent every dime on drugs."

When Amber was arrested for illegal possession of narcotics two years ago, she lost custody of her two young children. That, she said, was the wake-up call that prompted her to get the help she needed.

Amber's situation is far more common than most of us would like to think. Drug addiction affects millions of Americans in all walks of life.

"Opioid addiction is on the rise, and it's causing huge problems in this country," said Bryan Wood, M.D., president and founder of SelfRefind, a drug treatment program with clinics throughout the United States. "Addiction causes people to lie and steal from the people they love, and it costs them their jobs, their friendships and their families. If left untreated, it ultimately costs them their lives."

After suffering so much heartache and misery, most people who are addicted to narcotics eventually reach the point that they're desperate to stop using the drugs. Unfortunately, quitting isn't a simple matter.

"Opioid addiction isn't a personality flaw or a moral deficiency, it's a disease," explained Wood. "Recovering from addiction takes more than just willpower; it requires medical treatment by trained professionals."

Opioid dependence is characterized as a brain disease by many medical experts and organizations, including the World Health Organization. The condition has been shown to cause changes to the structure and function of the brain that persist long after drug use has ceased. Overcoming dependence isn't as simple as eliminating the drug of abuse from the patient's body. The structural and functional changes in the brain can trigger drug cravings even years after an individual's last use.

"Once you're hooked on the drugs," Amber explained, "you're not using them to get high anymore. You have to use the drugs just to be able to function, because they keep you from going into withdrawal."

In most cases, withdrawal is an agonizing process that can last for days. Symptoms include sweating, extreme anxiety, severe chills and painful muscle cramps, as well as violent episodes of vomiting and diarrhea. Long after the physical symptoms of withdrawal have resolved, most individuals continue to experience an overwhelming yearning for the drugs they once abused. Because these cravings are so intense, many patients in recovery quickly relapse and return to drug abuse. Proper medical care helps many patients avoid the painful symptoms of withdrawal and dramatically reduces their drug cravings. For more than 30 years, the drug methadone has been prescribed for the treatment of narcotic addiction.

"Unfortunately, methadone treatment is fraught with failure," said Wood. "Because it has a high potential for abuse and a poor compliance rate, it's generally held in low regard by patients and the community."

Earlier this year, Wood and other physicians at SelfRefind Clinics began prescribing Suboxone, a relatively new medication indicated for the treatment of opioid dependence. Approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2002, the drug has been used by more than 400,000 patients around the world.
"In the U.S., Suboxone is available only from specially trained physicians," said Wood. "This drug is drastically changing the way we treat addiction in the U.S."
Patients suffering from addiction get almost immediate relief from withdrawal symptoms. In the weeks that follow, they enjoy freedom from cravings, allowing them to fully focus on resolving the issues that led to their addiction in the first place. One of the most attractive features of the new drug is its low potential for abuse. The drug is properly administered under the tongue. If it is intentionally misused by crushing it for injection or inhalation, it precipitates signs and symptoms of withdrawal. A number of clinical trials have shown the drug to be safe and effective in helping people overcome their addiction to prescription painkillers and other opioids, including heroin. Amber, who started treatment with Suboxone five months ago, is well on her way to recovery.
"It's easier than I ever thought it could be," she said. "I feel like I've finally got my life back." ======== Rallie McAllister is a board-certified family physician, speaker and the author of several books, including "Healthy Lunchbox: The Working Mom's Guide to Keeping You and Your Kids Trim." Her website is To find out more about Rallie McAllister, M.D., and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at
Copyright 2008 Creators Syndicate Inc.

Saturday, August 23, 2008


Study: Golf Can Add Five Years To Life
STOCKHOLM, Sweden (UPI) -- Golf could add an extra five years to the life spans of regular players, Swedish researchers say. The study, performed by the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, contends that a close look at 500,000 golfers showed that there were many health benefits to playing the game, including a longer and healthier life, The Daily Telegraph reported Saturday. The golf study was published in the latest issue of the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports and defined a round of golf as lasting four or five hours while walking at a fast pace. "People play golf into old age, and there are also positive social and psychological aspects to the game that can be of help," Anders Ahlbom, leader of the Swedish study, told the Telegraph, adding that the longest lifespan increases came among golfers with blue collar economic backgrounds as opposed to those with professional jobs. Also, the newspaper said, those golfers with the lowest handicaps also had the lower death rates, and that overall golfers at any age were 47 percent less likely to die than their non-golfing, same-age counterparts.

Copyright 2008 by United Press International

Friday, August 22, 2008


Early Drinking Predicts Alcohol Dependence
ST. LOUIS (UPI) -- An early-age onset of drinking is a strong predictor of later alcohol dependence, Washington University School of Medicine researchers in St. Louis said. "Previous work had found that about one in three individuals who reported having started drinking at ages 17 or younger also reported having been alcohol dependent, either currently or previously," explained Richard A. Grucza of Washington University School of Medicine said in a statement. "For people who reported that they started drinking at age 21 or older, that number is one in 10. In other words, individuals who begin drinking at 17 or younger are more than three times more likely to develop alcohol dependence than those who begin at age 21 or older." The researchers analyzed two large, national surveys -- the National Longitudinal Alcohol Epidemiologic Survey conducted in 1991 and 1992 and the National Epidemiological Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions conducted in 2001 and 2002. The findings, published in the August issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research and available online, found women born during 1944 to1983 began drinking earlier than their predecessors, and that this earlier drinking might explain the higher rates of alcohol dependence.

Copyright 2008 by United Press International

Thursday, August 21, 2008


Doctor contact while losing weight helpful
INDIANAPOLIS (UPI) -- Current recommendations to have doctors meet twice with patients in weight-management programs may not be intensive enough for some, a U.S. researcher says. NiCole Keith of Indiana University-Purdue University in Indianapolis conducted a study in an urban community health center in Indianapolis that primarily serves low-income and disadvantaged populations. The weight-management program, Take Charge Lite, was free to patients, funded by the Fairbanks Foundation and available to all patients 18 or older with a body mass index equal to or above 25. At the end of the program's first year, the relationship between weight loss and number of contacts with physicians was evaluated. The study found patients with two or fewer contacts per month gained about 1 pound. Patients with three or four contacts per month lost about 2 pounds of weight and patients who had five contacts per month lost just over 2 pounds. Those with six or more contacts lost about 5 pounds and patients with more than 11 contacts per month lost about 6 pounds. The findings were presented at the American College of Sports Medicine's annual meeting in Indianapolis.
Copyright 2008 by United Press International

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


Treatment helps pregnant alcohol abusers
OAKLAND, Calif. (UPI) -- Pregnant women who abuse alcohol or drugs can achieve a healthy outcome if they receive treatment early in their pregnancy, U.S. researchers said. Researchers examined 49,985 women in Kaiser Permanente's prenatal care program and found that integrating substance abuse screening and treatment into routine prenatal care helped pregnant women achieve similar health outcomes as women who were not using cigarettes, alcohol or other drugs. The study compared 2,073 pregnant women who were screened, assessed and received ongoing intervention during pregnancy through the Early Start program at 21 Kaiser Permanente Northern California outpatient obstetric clinics from 1999 to 2003, to women in three other groups: 156 women who were screened but did not accept assessment or treatment; 1,203 women were screened, assessed and received brief intervention only; and a control group of 46,553 women who showed no evidence of substance abuse. The study, published online in the Journal of Perinatology, found the risk of stillborn, placental abruption -- in which the placental lining separates from the mother's uterus -- pre-term delivery, low birth weight and neonatal ventilation were dramatically higher for the 156 untreated substance abusers than for the 2,073 women in the Early Start program.

Copyright 2008 by United Press International

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


Your Health: Migraine Sufferers Face Higher Risk of Serious Disease
Rallie McAllister, M.D., M.P.H.
Migraines are more than just occasional, minor headaches. Not only do they produce significant pain and suffering in susceptible individuals, they’re also linked to a higher risk of stroke. Studies show that among all migraine sufferers, including men and women, the risk of experiencing a stroke is more than double that of people without the condition. Recent research suggests that the risk of stroke among female migraineurs is especially high. The latest findings from the Women’s Health Study demonstrated that compared to women without the condition, those who had migraines at least once a week were three times more likely to have a stroke. The study followed nearly 28,000 women age 45 and older for more than 12 years. Although the exact cause of migraine headaches remains a topic of intense scientific debate, most experts agree that the condition is related to a disordered function of nerves, blood vessels and neurotransmitters in the brain. Regardless of the cause, migraines are considered to be a lifelong condition of recurring headaches that can strike as often as several times a week or as infrequently as once a year. Migraine headaches can affect anyone, but they’re roughly three times more common in women than in men. More than two-thirds of cases occur in women between the ages of 15 and 55. Approximately 30 percent of migraineurs experience a phenomenon called an “aura” before or during the headache. The most common form of aura is a visual illusion of bright flashes of light that appear as stars or sparks, or as complex geometric patterns that shimmer across the visual field. The associated headaches are often so intense that they send their victims scurrying to the nearest dark, quiet place. In addition to pain, migraine sufferers typically experience overwhelming nausea, vomiting, and extreme sensitivity to light and noise. In most cases, the onset of symptoms is associated with specific substances or situations called triggers. Common triggers for migraines include stress, fatigue and hunger. Cheese, chocolate, alcohol and the food additive monosodium glutamate (MSG) may also be to blame. Among women, hormonal fluctuation -- especially around the time of menstruation -- is an important trigger. The results of a study conducted by researchers at Thomas Jefferson University’s Headache Center in Philadelphia suggest that women are twice as likely to experience migraines with aura during the first two days of their menstrual cycles compared to the remainder of the month. The researchers also noted that women have a significantly lower risk of having migraines during the time of ovulation, which typically occurs around the 14th day of the menstrual cycle. Although migraines are relatively common, drugs designed specifically for the treatment of the condition are few in number. Many medications prescribed for the treatment of migraines, including painkillers and anti-nausea medications, are extremely sedating. For some individuals, the treatment of migraines can be just as incapacitating as the condition itself. Fortunately, the frequency and severity of migraine headaches can be reduced by implementing a few preventive strategies. Avoiding known migraine triggers is an excellent place to start, and taking a few key nutritional supplements may help even more. A number of studies suggest that because migraineurs have low magnesium levels, taking supplemental magnesium can be an important part of an effective migraine-prevention program. Magnesium is known to help regulate serotonin, a neurotransmitter involved in the onset of migraine symptoms. Many foods are rich in magnesium, including dark green vegetables, whole grains, beans, bananas and seafood. For individuals with a magnesium deficiency, however, eating a well-balanced diet isn’t sufficient. Taking a nutritional supplement containing the mineral may be most beneficial. In recommended doses of 400 to 600 milligrams daily, magnesium supplements are generally safe and well tolerated by healthy individuals, with the most common side effect being diarrhea. In addition to magnesium, vitamin B2 and an herb known as feverfew have long been used in the prevention and treatment of migraine headaches. The recommended dose of vitamin B2, or riboflavin, is typically 400 mg a day. In clinical trials, migraine sufferers who took feverfew extract on a regular basis enjoyed a significant reduction in the frequency of migraine attacks. When they did experience headaches, they reported less severe pain, nausea and vomiting. Nutritional supplements won’t necessarily cure migraines, but for migraineurs in search of relief, they could make the condition far more bearable. ======== Rallie McAllister is a board-certified family physician, speaker and the author of several books, including “Healthy Lunchbox: The Working Mom’s Guide to Keeping You and Your Kids Trim.” Her website is To find out more about Rallie McAllister and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at
Copyright 2008 Creators Syndicate Inc.

Monday, August 18, 2008


Desk jobs linked to overweight, obesity
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (UPI) -- U.S. researchers said 80 percent of desk-bound employees in their study were overweight or obese, which is higher percentage than in the general population. Study leader Whitney E. Hornsby, a graduate student in Indiana University Bloomington's School of Health Physical Education and Recreation, examined weight and activity levels of 56 people ages 23 to 61 who worked desk jobs and found the employees also reported a lower quality of life than the general population. "Obesity rates have increased while leisure time has stayed the same or increased," study co-author Jeanne Johnston, an assistant professor, said in the statement. "We're becoming more sedentary in our jobs. As technology improves, it makes it easier or requires us to be closer to our desks." The findings were presented at the American College of Sports Medicine annual conference in Indianapolis.

Copyright 2008 by United Press International

Sunday, August 17, 2008


Older Americans have sense of peace, calm
AUSTIN, Texas (UPI) -- Knees may creak and climbing stairs may be harder, but aging brings a sense of peace and calm, U.S. researchers say. A study by the Population Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin says starting at about age 60, participants reported more feelings of ease and contentment than their younger counterparts. Catherine Ross and John Mirowsky say previous research on emotions associated with aging focused on negative emotions, such as depression. However, the findings reveal aging is associated with more positive than negative emotions, and more passive than active emotions, Ross says. The researchers examined 1,450 responses from the 1996 U.S. General Social Survey of English-speaking U.S. adults who were 56 percent female, 44 percent male, 81 percent white, 14 percent African-American and 5 percent other races. "The passive/positive combination reveals that contentment, calm and ease are some of the most common emotions people feel as they age," Ross said in a statement. "Emotions that are both active and negative, such as anxiety and anger, are especially unlikely among the elderly." The findings are published in the Social Science and Medicine.

Copyright 2008 by United Press International

Saturday, August 16, 2008


Coffee before breakfast boosts blood sugar
GUELPH, Ontario (UPI) -- Having a cup a caffeinated coffee before a breakfast of low-sugar cereal could put some at higher risk of type 2 diabetes, a Canadian researcher says. Terry Graham of the University of Guelph says caffeine in the coffee can alter the body's sugar response. Graham and graduate students Lesley Moisey and Stia Kacker used two types of cereal -- one with low-levels of sugar and one with moderate levels -- and examined the difference in response when healthy male subjects who drank caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee one hour before eating breakfast. The study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, showed blood sugar levels in subjects who ate the low-sugar cereal jumped 250 percent higher when they drank caffeinated coffee than when they drank decaffeinated. "Caffeine interferes with our body's response to insulin,"Graham says. "It makes us resistant to insulin which in turn makes our blood-sugar levels go higher." Several spikes in blood sugar a day can have adverse health effects and those at risk for type 2 diabetes should be careful and consider drinking decaffeinated coffee, Graham says.

Copyright 2008 by United Press International

Friday, August 15, 2008


Scientist: Cell phone study misinterpreted
LOS ANGELES (UPI) -- U.S. and Danish researchers say their study on behavioral problems in children linked to pregnant women using cell phones may raise unnecessary alarm. Study co-author Dr. Jorn Olsen, chairman of epidemiology at University of California, Los Angeles, told ABC News that media coverage of the research -- scheduled to be published in the July issue of the journal Epidemiology -- has been off target. Researchers at UCLA and Aarhus, Denmark, analyzed a survey of mothers of 13,159 children in Denmark that asked about cell phone use during pregnancy and after, as well as their child's behavior. (We) "only briefly mentioned the possibility that maternal cell phone use, especially postnatal use, could have adverse effects on child behavior in ways having nothing at all to do with radio frequency fields," Olsen told ABC. "I don't think anyone has suggested that there is a causal mechanism." The findings suggest pregnant women who use cell phones may increase their babies' risk of behavioral problems, but the findings are inconclusive -- for example, mothers who use their cell phones may pay less attention to their children, Olsen said. The study also said that other confounding variables could explain behavioral changes in these children, including diet, exposure to lead paint and exposure to pollution.

Copyright 2008 by United Press International

Thursday, August 14, 2008


Erectile dysfunction sign of heart trouble
HONG KONG (UPI) -- For men with type 2 diabetes, erectile dysfunction is a powerful early warning sign for serious heart disease, Chinese researchers say. Peter Chun-Yip Tong of The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Prince of Wales Hospital, in Hong Kong says diabetes, erectile dysfunction and heart disease share an ominous link: damage to the blood vessels by high blood sugar levels. The same process that hinders the extra blood flow needed to maintain an erection can have even more serious consequences in the heart, the researchers say. "The development of erectile dysfunction should alert both patients and healthcare providers to the future risk of coronary heart disease," Tong says in a statement. "Other risk factors such as poor blood glucose control, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, smoking and obesity should be reviewed and addressed aggressively." Researchers recruited 2,306 men with type 2 diabetes and tracked them for about four years. One-quarter had erectile dysfunction at the beginning of the study but none had signs of heart disease. The study, scheduled to be published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found erectile dysfunction signaled a 58 percent increase in the risk of coronary heart disease.

Copyright 2008 by United Press International

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


High insulin could indicate ovary syndrome
HERSHEY, Pa. (UPI) -- U.S. scientists say high levels of insulin could be an early sign that girls whose mothers suffer from polycystic ovary syndrome might also be susceptible. Researchers at the Penn State University College of Medicine say their finding could help determine whether daughters of women suffering from PCOS are at a higher risk of developing the disease, compared with girls whose mothers do not have the disease. "Polycystic ovary syndrome is a common hormonal disorder that affects women of reproductive age, and sometimes causes inability to become pregnant," the researchers said, noting symptoms include hairiness due to excessive amounts of male hormones, irregular periods and insulin resistance. "We found insulin resistance in children who had entered puberty, and whose mothers had PCOS," said Dr. Richard Legro, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology and the study's lead author. "We did not find it in the youngest children, which suggests that the disease is triggered by puberty." The study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, was reported in a recent issue of The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.
Copyright 2008 by United Press International

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


Breast feeding moms have less arthritis
MALMO, Sweden (UPI) -- Swedish researchers found women who breast feed more than 13 months were half as likely to get rheumatoid arthritis. Those who had breast fed for one to 12 months were 25 percent less likely to get the disease. The study, published online ahead of print in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, also found taking oral contraceptives -- suspected to protect against the disease because they contain hormones that are raised in pregnancy -- did not have the same effect. Similarly, being pregnant -- but not breast feeding -- did not seem to have a protective effect either. The authors said that it was difficult to say whether there was a connection between higher rates of breast feeding and a corresponding fall in the number of women affected by rheumatoid arthritis, but that the results of the study provided yet another reason why women should breast feed. Study leader Dr. M. Pikwer of The Malmo University Hospital, in Sweden compared 136 women with rheumatoid arthritis with 544 women of a similar age without the disease.

Copyright 2008 by United Press International

Monday, August 11, 2008


COLLEGE STATION, Texas (UPI) -- Watermelon has ingredients that deliver Viagra-like effects to the body's blood vessels and may even increase libido, U.S. scientists say. Dr. Bhimu Patil of Texas A&M in College Station said beneficial ingredients in watermelon and other produce are known as phyto-nutrients -- naturally occurring compounds that are able to react with the human body to trigger healthy reactions. "The more we study watermelons, the more we realize just how amazing a fruit it is in providing natural enhancers to the human body," Patil said in a statement. When watermelon is consumed, the phyto-nutrient citrulline is converted to arginine through certain enzymes. Arginine is an amino acid that works wonders on the heart and circulation system, and maintains a good immune system, Patil said. "The citrulline-arginine relationship helps heart health, the immune system and may prove to be very helpful for those who suffer from obesity and type 2 diabetes," Patil said. "Arginine boosts nitric oxide, which relaxes blood vessels, the same basic effect that Viagra has, to treat erectile dysfunction and maybe even prevent it." Deep red varieties of watermelon are also loaded with lycopene, an anti-oxidant that protects the human heart, prostate and skin health, Patil added.

Copyright 2008 by United Press International

Sunday, August 10, 2008


Lifelong Health: Ads For New Drugs Are End Run Around Physicians
Dr. David Lipschitz

In recent years, the relationship between the health-care industry and physicians has been questioned. In years past, industry representatives courted physicians with gifts, meals and trips to exotic destinations -- all in the name of educating us on a new therapy, treatment or piece of equipment. Not surprisingly, many health-care professionals are concerned that such a courtship creates a conflict of interest. It begs the question, "How much influence can the pharmaceutical industry have on a physician's practice?" As a consequence, most medical schools and community hospitals now closely regulate any contact with industry representatives. No more gifts and no more free lunches. Any services provided must have meticulous justification. For now, it is strictly education. As the restrictions on physician education grew increasingly strict, the pharmaceutical industry shifted the attention directly to the public, using direct-to-consumer advertising in newspapers, magazines, radio and television. Through savvy marketing campaigns, Sally Field is now forever linked with Boniva, Dr. Jarvik with Lipitor and a yellow bumblebee with Nasonex. What is the real impact of direct-to-consumer advertising? On the upside, this marketing has increased the public’s awareness about new medications, as well as many diseases. An advertisement may prompt a visit to the physician that otherwise may not have occurred. In the best-case scenario, this provides an opportunity for a comprehensive work-up to screen for medical problems such as cancer, high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol and other factors that may increase the risk of disease. It may also provide opportunities to counsel patients about the importance of smoking cessation, diet and exercise. However, there is an obvious downside to the ads. First, patients are more likely to seek specific medications. They ask their doctor about the "new and improved medication," and frequently the physician gladly prescribes it. Patients with osteoporosis are happy to take a once-a-month Boniva rather than the weekly generic that provides the same effect. Often a new drug advertised to the general public is inappropriately prescribed as a first-line treatment, rather than using tried and true older medications as the initial therapy. One of the biggest problems with requesting new drugs is simple: increased cost. Generic medications will never be marketed to the public, only the brand-name equivalent. Again, consider the case of heavily advertised, brand-name Boniva over the generic counterpart. A three-month supply of Alendronate (Fosamax) is now available for $10 at discount pharmacies. The cost savings of taking Alendronate once weekly far outweigh the convenience of taking Boniva once monthly. In addition to concerns about cost, some pharmaceutical advertisements may not provide all the necessary information to educate consumers about the potential benefits and side effects. A recent editorial published in the New England Journal of Medicine raised serious concerns about advertising a drug-coated stent used to open up a blocked coronary artery in patients with chest pain. In an advertisement titled "Life Wide Open," the advertisement shows a suffering man sitting with obvious chest pain, and then contrasts him with healthy-looking people exercising and having fun. The ad implies that opening up the artery by angioplasty and using this specific stent is the best way to treat chest pain. However, angioplasty for chest pain is no better than conservative treatment with medications. Furthermore, the television advertisement downplays the side effects, indicating the angioplasty has only four side effects (allergy to blood thinners, heart attack, the need to repeat the procedure and blood clot in the stent), and the drug coating has none. The consumer Web site identifies 10 side effects from the procedure and four from the drug coating. The patient-education brochure identifies 24 side effects that the procedure may cause, including death, strokes, and the need for open-heart surgery, and 13 from the drug coating, including lymphoma and other cancers, severe lung disease, and bone marrow problems that can lead to infection and bleeding. If you ever see an advertisement for a specific treatment that may seem appropriate for your condition, make sure you have all the facts before insisting that it be prescribed. Talk to your physician and insist on being told why one therapy may be better than another. It is critical that you be a truly educated consumer of health care.

======== Dr. David Lipschitz is the author of the book "Breaking the Rules of Aging." To find out more about Dr. David Lipschitz and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at More information is available at
Copyright 2008 Creators Syndicate Inc.

Saturday, August 9, 2008


Pycnogenol may reduce menstrual pain
KANAZAWA, Japan (UPI) -- Pycnogenol, bark extract from a French maritime pine tree, helped alleviate extremely painful menstrual periods, Japanese researchers said. The study showed women with dysmenorrhea -- extremely painful menstrual periods -- who took Pycnogenol experienced less pain and required less pain medications during menstruation. "Non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, like aspirin or ibuprofen provide temporary help against menstrual pain," lead researcher Dr. Nobutaka Suzuki said in a statement. "Unfortunately, they are generally ineffective for resolving spasmodic events and commonly cause side effects, particularly gastric problems." The randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study was conducted at four Japanese hospitals and involved 116 women, ages 18 to 48, suffering from menstrual pain. Patients were monitored for five menstrual cycles.The first two menstrual cycles were utilized for establishing base-line values for pain and NSAID analgesics. The results, published in the Journal of Reproductive Medicine, showed treatment with Pycnogenol lowered pain during menstruation, which was reflected by a significant reduction of NSAID used. The number of painful days due to dysmenorrhea decreased from an average of 2.1 days prior to treatment to 1.3 at both the third and fourth cycle. Discontinuation of Pycnogenol didn't cause an immediate relapse and pain medication use didn't increase, the researchers said.

Copyright 2008 by United Press International

Friday, August 8, 2008


Abortions more common in Arab countries
BEIRUT, Lebanon (UPI) -- Abortion is becoming more common in Arab countries as young people marry later and engage in premarital sex, family planning officials say. While Islam bans abortion except when a pregnancy is the result of forcible rape or continuing the pregnancy would put the mother's life or health at risk, the public is becoming more tolerant, the Los Angeles Times reported. "There's definitely an increase compared to 10 to 15 years ago," said Mohammed Graigaa, head of the Moroccan Association for Family Planning. "Abortion is much less of a taboo. It's much more visible. Doctors talk about it. Women talk about it. The moral values of people have changed." One recent poll by found that more than half of Egyptians, Iranians and Palestinians say abortion should be legal. The United Nations estimates one in 10 pregnancies in North Africa and the Middle East ends in abortion, half the U.S. rate. Because abortions are illegal in most circumstances, many are performed by midwives or so-called back-alley practitioners.

Copyright 2008 by United Press International

Thursday, August 7, 2008


PCB-exposed Women May Have Fewer Boys
DAVIS, Calif. (UPI) -- Women exposed to high levels of polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, are less likely to give birth to male children, U.S. researchers said. Lead author Irva Hertz-Picciotto of the University of California, Davis, said PCBs, widely used in industry as cooling and insulating fluids for electrical equipment, as well as in construction and domestic products such as varnishes and caulks, are persistent organic pollutants identified worldwide as human blood and breast milk contaminants. The study, published in the journal Environmental Health, found that among women from the San Francisco Bay Area, those exposed to higher levels of PCBs during the 1950s and 1960s, were 33 percent less likely to give birth to male children than the women least exposed. The researchers measured the levels of PCBs in blood taken from pregnant women during a Bay Area study during the 1960s. When they compared the blood levels to the children's sex, they found that for every one microgram of PCBs per liter of serum, the chance of having a male child fell by 7 percent, the study said. PCBs were banned in the 1970s, but the flame-retardants polybrominated diphenyl ethers currently used in plastic casings and foam products share many of the biochemical and toxicologic properties of PCBs, the researchers said.

Copyright 2008 by United Press International

Tuesday, August 5, 2008


Researcher: 'Sex and the City' helps women
COPENHAGEN, Denmark (UPI) -- A Denmark graduate student wrote in her doctoral thesis that women are attracted to "Sex and the City" because they see the characters as role models. University of Copenhagen post-grad Mette Kramer said the attraction of the TV series, which ran from 1998-2004, and this summer's movie version of the show extends beyond mere entertainment and leads many women to use situations from the program as models for real life, the Copenhagen Post reported Thursday. Kramer said that by living vicariously through the show's central characters -- Carrie, Charlotte, Miranda and Samantha -- they can view how the women deal with the issues in their fictional lives and translate it to the real world. "They can later try out the tactics as simulated versions of Carrie, Charlotte, Miranda and Samantha," Kramer said.
Copyright 2008 by United Press International

Monday, August 4, 2008


Patients often hide sexual orientation
NEW YORK (UPI) -- Thirty-nine percent of men in New York City who have sex with other men do not disclose their sexual orientation to their doctors, health officials said. Healthcare providers, who know about their patients' sexual behavior, can help prevent HIV infection through testing, counseling and other services, officials said. The study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, examined data from the 2004 to 2005 Centers for Disease Control National HIV Behavioral Survey. For the survey, men at gay bars and clubs were interviewed anonymously, tested for HIV and offered medical and social services as needed. The New York City Health Department analyzed data for the 452 survey participants who lived in New York City. The study showed that men who disclose having sex with men were twice as likely as those who did not to have been tested for HIV -- 63 percent versus 36 percent. The current national guidelines, adopted in 2006 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, call on healthcare providers to offer HIV tests to all patients between the ages of 13 and 64, officials said.

Copyright 2008 by United Press International

Sunday, August 3, 2008


Mint Cookie Blizzard has 1,000 calories
WASHINGTON (UPI) -- The Thin Mint Cookie Blizzard at Dairy Queen provides a blizzard of calories, officials of a U.S. non-profit group said. Officials at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a non-profit health advocacy group in Washington, said the new ice cream dessert weighs more than a pound, has more than 1,000 calories, 31 teaspoons of sugars, and provides more than a day's saturated fat. Michael F. Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, said the Thin Mint Cookie Blizzard is like drinking two Big Macs. "If you were designing a product with the intent of promoting obesity and type-2 diabetes in girls, it would look exactly like the Thin Mint Blizzard," Jacobson said in a statement. "A Thin Mint Cookie Blizzard is soft-serve mint and vanilla ice cream combined with Thin Mint cookies and topped with a creme-de-menthe flavored syrup made out of high-fructose corn syrup and containing artificial food dyes Yellow 5 and Green 3. Even a small size has the calories -- 540 -- and a little more saturated fat -- 12 grams -- than a Big Mac."

Copyright 2008 by United Press International

Saturday, August 2, 2008


Concussions from sports often unrecognized
ST. LOUIS (UPI) -- Sports-related concussions in athletes often go unrecognized and often don't receive proper respect for their potential seriousness, U.S. researchers said. Dr. Mark Halstead of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis said an explosion in research about concussions in the past five years has increased understanding of how serious concussions may be. "There is a common misconception that an athlete only has a concussion if he or she loses consciousness," Halstead said in a statement. "In fact, most athletes may only suffer from a mild headache or feeling confused or foggy. Concussions may even occur without impact, from the head being shaken." It is important for coaches, parents and athletes to recognize the symptoms of a concussion because athletes may only have one symptom, Halstead said. No athlete should be returned to play while still experiencing symptoms of a concussion. Common symptoms of a concussion include: headache, dizziness, changes to the vision such as blurry vision or double vision, upset stomach or vomiting, feeling tired, moodiness, confusion and loss of memory of events before and after the concussion.

Copyright 2008 by United Press International

Friday, August 1, 2008


Middle-aged more active than young adults
LONDON (UPI) -- A 10-year study in Britain finds the comfortably off, white and middle aged are the most likely to participate in sporting activities, researchers said. The findings are based on data from several of the annual Health Surveys for England from 1997 to 2006 involving 61,000 adults -- 27,217 men. In 2006, men were around 10 percent more likely, and women around 20 percent more likely to participate regularly in sports compared to 1997. This suggests that the perception that there is a decline in sporting activities may be "oversimplistic," however, the study authors at the University College London conclude that the decline in sporting activity among younger people is a cause for concern. The increase is mainly attributable to gym and fitness activities, with both sexes about 20 percent more likely to participate in them than they were in 1997. The proportion of regular female runners also doubled to 4 percent over the decade. The study, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, found the increases in sports participation was largely restricted to middle-aged and older people, with clear increasing trends seen among both sexes over the age of 45 and older and among 30- to 44-year-old women.

Copyright 2008 by United Press International