Monday, June 30, 2008


Parents Key to How Trauma Affects Kids
MINNEAPOLIS (UPI) -- Parents can play a key role in determining how their children react to trauma, U.S. researchers say. The review, published in the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, suggests the quality of parenting practices following trauma mediates the relationship between the traumatic event and the child's subsequent adjustment. Study leaded Abigail Gewirtz of the University of Minnesota reviewed the existing literature to inspect the ways in which parents can affect children's recovery in the aftermath of trauma. Gewirtz says certain parenting behaviors have the potential to significantly improve children's outcomes. The review finds that parenting practices that provide structure, security, emotional warmth and an environment that addresses the traumatic event serve to surround children with a protective environment. "By providing an overview of the evidence to-date, and a proposed prevention research framework, it is our hope that others will see and respond to the need to advance this field," the study authors said in a statement.

Copyright 2008 by United Press International

Sunday, June 29, 2008


Fossil of most primitive 4-legged creature found
By SETH BORENSTEIN, AP Science Writer Wed Jun 25, 6:06 PM ET
WASHINGTON - Scientists unearthed a skull of the most primitive four-legged creature in Earth's history, which should help them better understand the evolution of fish to advanced animals that walk on land.
The 365 million-year-old fossil skull, shoulders and part of the pelvis of the water-dweller, Ventastega curonica, were found in Latvia, researchers report in a study published in Thursday's issue of the journal Nature. Even though Ventastega is likely an evolutionary dead-end, the finding sheds new details on the evolutionary transition from fish to tetrapods. Tetrapods are animals with four limbs and include such descendants as amphibians, birds and mammals.
While an earlier discovery found a slightly older animal that was more fish than tetrapod, Ventastega is more tetrapod than fish. The fierce-looking creature probably swam through shallow brackish waters, measured about three or four feet long and ate other fish. It likely had stubby limbs with an unknown number of digits, scientists said.
"If you saw it from a distance, it would look like a small alligator, but if you look closer you would find a fin in the back," said lead author Per Ahlberg, a professor of evolutionary biology at Uppsala University in Sweden. "I imagine this is an animal that could haul itself over sand banks without any difficulty. Maybe it's poking around in semi-tidal creeks picking up fish that got stranded."
This all happened more than 100 million years before the first dinosaurs roamed Earth.
Scientists don't think four-legged creatures are directly evolved from Ventastega. It's more likely that in the family tree of tetrapods, Ventastega is an offshoot branch that eventually died off, not leading to the animals we now know, Ahlberg said.
"At the time there were a lot of creatures around of varying degrees of advancement," Ahlberg said. They all seem to have similar characteristics, so Ventastega's find is helpful for evolutionary biologists.
Ventastega is the most primitive of these transition animals, but there are older ones that are oddly more advanced, said Neil Shubin, professor of biology and anatomy at the University of Chicago, who was not part of the discovery team but helped find Tiktaalik, the fish that was one step earlier in evolution.
"It's sort of out of sequence in timing," Shubin said of Ventastega.
Ahlberg didn't find the legs or toes of Ventastega, but was able to deduce that it was four-limbed because key parts of its pelvis and its shoulders were found. From the shape of those structures, scientists were able to conclude that limbs, not fins were attached to Ventastega.
One question that scientists are trying to figure out is why fish started to develop what would later become legs.
Edward Daeschler, associate curator of vertebrate zoology at the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia, theorizes that the water was so shallow that critters like Ventastega had an evolutionary advantage by walking instead of swimming.

Saturday, June 28, 2008


Women in academics have fewest children
SALT LAKE CITY (UPI) -- In general, professional women have fewer children than other women, but women in academia have the fewest children, a University of Utah study found. By analyzing data from the 2000 U.S. Census, Nicholas Wolfinger and colleagues showed although male faculty are 21 percent less likely than male doctors to have a baby in their households, female faculty are 41 percent less likely than their female physician counterparts to have kids. The researchers conclude that because it takes longer to achieve the job security of tenure in academics -- on average, professors achieve tenure at close to 40 years of age -- gender equality in the "ivory tower" has come at a cost. "Many studies have examined the effects of childbirth on professional success, but few have considered how career choice affects fertility," Wolfinger said in a statement. "If women are sacrificing families for their jobs, the sexual revolution has not come nearly as far as might otherwise be expected." The findings are scheduled to be presented this week at annual meeting of the Population Association of America in New Orleans.

Copyright 2008 by United Press International

Friday, June 27, 2008


Those with sleep apnea at risk on airline
TORONTO (UPI) -- Those with severe obstructive sleep apnea may have a greater risk of adverse events from cardiac stress during airline flights, Australian researchers say. Leigh Seccombe of the Concord Repatriation General Hospital in Sydney compared oxygen levels and ventilation of healthy people and people with severe obstructive sleep apnea during simulated flight conditions replicating the oxygen and pressure levels of typical commercial flights. "It is normal for the rate of breathing to increase when air pressure falls. We predicted that patients with obstructive sleep apnea would have a much sharper fall in oxygen levels because they might not increase their breathing as much," Seccombe said in a statement. "In fact, we found that patients with obstructive sleep apnea do have a lower blood oxygen level before and during aircraft cabin condition stimulation, but that the change in oxygen was similar. We also found that their breathing intensity increases at about the same rate as it does in healthy people." What was different was the physiological stress and demand for oxygen was increased in people with obstructive sleep apnea, the researchers found. The findings were presented at the American Thoracic Society's 2008 International Conference in Toronto.
Copyright 2008 by United Press International

Thursday, June 26, 2008


Nail salon workers have health concerns
OAKLAND, Calif. (UPI) -- Researchers who surveyed nail salon workers in California say the workers worry about health effects associated with the chemicals they use. The survey by the Northern California Cancer Center and the Asian Health Services of Oakland, Calif., involved face-to-face interviews of 201 Vietnamese nail salon workers at 74 salons. Thu Quach of the Northern California Cancer Center says nail salon workers are mainly Vietnamese women who make their living giving manicures and pedicures. Of California's more than 35,000 salons, the vast majority are owned or operated by Vietnamese women. "Nail care workers routinely handle products containing many potentially harmful compounds, some of which are carcinogens or have endocrine disrupting effects, yet are virtually unregulated," Quach says in a statement. "Nail salon workers are likely to have higher exposures to these compounds than the customers they serve." A majority of the workers reported health concerns from exposures to workplace chemicals, says Dung Nguyen of Asian Health Services. "Many of them reported having some health problem after they began working in the industry, particularly skin and eye irritation, breathing difficulties and headaches," Nguyen says. The findings of the preliminary survey are set for the October print issue of Journal of Community Health.

Copyright 2008 by United Press International

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


Women depressed at twice the rate of men
ARLINGTON, Va. (UPI) -- One in eight U.S. women gets depressed -- twice the rate of men -- a U.S. health group said. The National Alliance on Mental Illness said that major depression is a medical illness that affects a person's mind, mood, body and behavior. It is more than "feeling down" because of a recent loss or family, work or financial stresses. It occurs when these feelings become more intense and persist to the point that they affect daily functioning. Middle-age Hispanic women have the highest rate of symptoms followed by middle-aged African-American women. Young Asian American women have the second highest rate of suicide among those ages 15 to 24, but adolescent American Indian or Alaska natives are most likely to attempt suicide and die from suicide. "Nearly 18 million Americans experience depression every year," Dr. Ken Duckworth, medical director of National Alliance on Mental Illness. "Some experiences are unique to women, including post-partum changes, infertility and hormonal fluctuations throughout their lives." The good news is that with correct diagnosis, most people can be treated effectively, the bad news is that two-thirds of people living with depression don't get the help they need, Duckworth said. A 13-page brochure on women and depression can be downloaded at

Copyright 2008 by United Press International

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Sleep: Big problem for college students
MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. (UPI) -- U.S. researchers suggest college students returning next semester include some white noise to help with sleep. The study, published in the Journal of American College Health, determined many college students have sleep patterns that may be having detrimental effects on academics, driving and health. LeAnne Forquer formerly of Central Michigan University and now at Delta State University in Cleveland, Miss., wondered if other students had sleep problems as she did. Forquer and Carl Johnson surveyed more than 300 freshmen through graduate college students and found one-third took more than 30 minutes to fall asleep and 43 percent woke more than once per night. "What I found most interesting about the study was the large numbers of students who were having the same problems as me, such as taking a long time to fall asleep and waking numerous times throughout the night," Forquer says in a statement. "I had felt for so many years that I was the only one." Forquer and Johnson, in another study published in Sleep and Hypnosis, found the use of continuous white noise may help college students get better sleep. The study showed white noise decreased difficulty in falling asleep and reduced night wakings in college students who had self-reported sleep problems
Copyright 2008 by United Press International

Monday, June 23, 2008


Mom's depression linked to kid's injuries
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (UPI) -- Infants and toddlers whose mothers are severely depressed are almost three times more likely to suffer injuries than other children, a U.S. study said. The study, published in the Advanced Access edition of the Journal of Pediatric Psychology, suggests that proper treatment for depression would improve not only a mothers' health but the health of young children as well. University of Alabama at Birmingham psychologist David Schwebel examined a sample of 1,364 mothers included in the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Study of Early Child Care, who were periodically asked to list all their children's injuries as well as how often they themselves experienced symptoms of depression. The link between severe, chronic depression in mothers and injuries in young children remained consistent even when taking into account the families' socio-economic status, parenting styles and the children's sex, temperament and behavior. A likely cause for the link between severe maternal depression and young children's injury risk is that chronically depressed mothers may not appropriately safeguard the physical environments that children engage in, Schwebel says. Another cause may be that symptoms of depression include inattention, poor concentration and irritability, which "might lead to poor or inconsistent supervision and enforcement of safety-related rules."

Copyright 2008 by United Press International

Sunday, June 22, 2008


Why patients may delay knee surgery
KENT, Ohio (UPI) -- Patients usually postpone but ultimately undergo knee replacement surgery, U.S. researchers found. Kent State's College of Nursing found four themes of patient experience -- put up and put off, wait and worry, let go and let in, or hurt and hope -- and recommended finding new and better ways to give patients more education and support before and after the procedure. "This study sought to better understand patients' pre- and post-operative experiences with total knee replacement surgery," study leader Ann Jacobson said in a statement. "These patients' perspectives have rarely been the topic of research yet numerous existing studies of total joint replacement of the hip or knee indicate that eligible patients delay or decline the procedure for reasons that haven't been well understood. The "waiting and worrying" experience occurred in the time period between making the surgery decision and getting the surgery. The experience of "letting go and letting in" was described as "I had to accept the loss of control" and independence. The "letting in" describes accepting help and encouragement. The "hurting and hoping" described an experience where life was pervaded by the pain.

Copyright 2008 by United Press International

Saturday, June 21, 2008


WASHINGTON (UPI) -- The 70 million people with asthma and allergies in the United States may find a new bedding certification helpful, a nonprofit group says. The asthma and allergy friendly certification program, administered by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America in partnership with the international research organization Allergy Standards Limited, has been introducing scientific standards for bedding and other types of products. Medical experts advise that reducing exposure to allergens and irritants, such as dust mites, pet dander and formaldehyde should be a critical part of a patient's asthma and allergy management plan, the foundation says. The certification program, certified SmartSilk silk-filled Pillow Protectors and Duvets have been added to a long list of other existing certified pillows, encasements, mattress pads and comforters. Only bedding items that pass the rigorous scientific testing protocols and meet the strict standards adopted by Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America are certified asthma and allergy friendly. The standards are designed to ensure that products don't contain harmful chemicals, can withstand routine machine wash and dry instructions, and under normal use and care, won't allow household allergens to accumulate at high levels. More information is at Copyright 2008 by United Press International

Friday, June 20, 2008


WASHINGTON (UPI) -- Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder drugs can increase heart rate and blood pressure so children should have hearts checked, U.S. guidelines say. Children with ADHD should get careful cardiac evaluation and monitoring -- including an electrocardiogram before treatment with these stimulant drugs, an American Heart Association statement recommends. An electrocardiogram measures the heart's electrical activity and can often identify heart rhythm abnormalities such as those that can lead to sudden cardiac death. If heart problems are suspected after the evaluation, children should be referred to a pediatric cardiologist and children should have their heart health monitored periodically, the guidelines say. Stimulant medications can increase heart rate and blood pressure of children, but these side effects are insignificant for most children with ADHD; however, it's an important consideration for children who have a heart condition. Certain heart conditions increase the risk for sudden cardiac death, which occurs when the heart rhythm becomes erratic and doesn't pump blood through the body, the statement says. The statement on Cardiovascular Monitoring of Children and Adolescents with Heart Disease Receiving Stimulant Drugs is published online in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association. Copyright 2008 by United Press International

Thursday, June 19, 2008


BOSTON (UPI) -- An anesthetic and low oxygen during surgery has been linked to a build-up of amyloid-beta proteins associated with Alzheimer's disease, a U.S. study found. Cell studies showed a common anesthetic -- desflurane -- did not cause a build up of amyloid-beta protein, however, when the anesthetic was combined with low oxygen it linked to more production of the proteins associated with Alzheimer's disease. Bin Zhang, Yuanlin Dong, Rudolph Tanzi, Zhongcong Xie and colleagues at Massachusetts General Institute for Neurodegenerative Disease, Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School in Boston said hypoxia said low oxygen -- by itself -- did not have this effect. The findings, published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, were produced from human brain cell culture experiments and should next be confirmed by animal models. The preliminary findings suggest it is important to ensure anesthetic patients maintain sufficient brain oxygen, the researchers said. The study exposed human brain cells to 12 percent desflurane for six hours -- mimicking surgical conditions -- and found no observable changes in either the production of amyloid-beta protein or the rate of cell death. However, desflurane combined with low oxygen levels of 18 percent could stimulate both of these cellular changes.

Copyright 2008 by United Press International

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


CLEVELAND (UPI) -- U.S. scientists have linked a region on human chromosome 1 with high triglygerides levels -- a major risk factor for heart disease. Study leader Qing Wang and colleagues at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation in Ohio said triglycerides, the main form of dietary fat, continuously circulate in the blood, but if their concentration elevates, the risk of atherosclerosis and subsequently heart disease increases. Circulating triglygerides levels depend on many factors including diet, exercise and smoking, but around 40 percent of the variation in the population is due to genetics. Wang and colleagues scanned 714 Caucasians from 388 families with premature heart disease. The study, published in the Journal of Lipid Research, identified a novel region on chromosome 1. This genetic locus contains 375 known genes, but the researchers highlighted three genes that are especially promising candidates: angiopoietin-like 3, which inhibits enzymes that break down fats; the receptor for the appetite hormone leptin; and sterol carrier protein 2, which helps convert cholesterol into bile acids.

Copyright 2008 by United Press International

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


OSLO, Norway (UPI) -- A researcher in Norway has linked where moms-to-be were born to their likelihood of having extreme nausea. Ase Vikanes of the Norwegian Institute of Public Health found women born in India and Sri Lanka were three times more likely than ethnic Norwegians to suffer from extreme nausea and vomiting in pregnancy -- known as hyperemesis gravidarum. A higher prevalence of hyperemesis gravidarum was also associated with maternal age between 20 to 24 years old, being married and carrying a female or more than one fetus. Vikanes and colleagues used data from the Medical Birth Registry of Norway, showing 8,300 cases of hyperemesis gravidarum recorded out of 900,000 pregnancies over 40 years -- an overall prevalence of 0.89 percent. The mother's country of birth and education -- recorded by Statistics Norway -- were linked through the mother's personal identification number. "In contrast to earlier studies we tested the quality of the data and therefore have confidence in our findings" Vikanes said in a statement. "The difference in prevalence of hyperemesis gravidarum related to the mother's country of birth cannot be explained by differences in socio-demographic characteristics." More than 90 percent of pregnant women experience some degree of nausea and vomiting, but only 0.5 percent to 2 percent have hyperemesis gravidarum.

Copyright 2008 by United Press International

Monday, June 16, 2008


ATLANTA (UPI) -- The number of recreational water illnesses reported in 2007 was a record and it is expected to rise further, U.S. health officials say. Officials of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta say recreational water illnesses are spread by swallowing, breathing, or having contact with germs in the water of swimming pools, spas, lakes, rivers or oceans. "The leading cause of recreational water illnesses outbreaks is Cryptosporidium, or Crypto, a chlorine-resistant parasite, primarily associated with treated swimming places, such as pools and water parks," said Michele Hlavsa, an epidemiologist at the CDC. From 2004 to 2007, the number of Crypto cases tripled. During the same period, the number of Crypto outbreaks linked to swimming pools more than doubled. Crypto is chlorine resistant, so even a well-maintained pool can transmit the parasite, Hlavsa says. Symptoms include: watery diarrhea, stomach cramps, dehydration, nausea, vomiting, fever and weight loss. The parasite is spread by swallowing water contaminated with Crypto. Some people have no symptoms and most who have healthy immune systems will recover with no treatment, but for those with weakened immune systems the illness can be severe or life-threatening, health officials say.

Copyright 2008 by United Press International


Children split from parents hurt in school
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (UPI) -- Time apart from a parent -- due to illness or divorce -- predicts disadvantages for children when they enter kindergarten, U.S. researchers said. Study leader Dr. Sandy Jee of the University of Rochester Medical Center's Golisano Children's Hospital said that in most cases, separation is a marker of instability. "Parents are less apt to be reading to their kids or taking time to teach them new skills, such as tying shoes, practicing their letters or penning their names," Jee said. The study enrolled 1,619 children between 4 and 6 entering Rochester City kindergartens in the fall of 2003. Parents or caregivers were asked if their child had ever been away from a parent for more than a month, and to provide measures of their child's developmental skills. The results were analyzed to produce four four-point scales, each measuring different dimensions of healthy development, such as reading their own written name. The study, published in the May-June issue of Ambulatory Pediatrics, said children who have been separated at any point scored significantly worse in their ability to learn new tasks and their pre-literacy skills. But, their expressive language and speech scores were comparable to those of their non-separated peers.
Copyright 2008 by United Press International

Sunday, June 15, 2008


Alzheimer's vaccine effective in mice
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (UPI) -- University of Rochester Medical Center scientists say their vaccine prevents the development of Alzheimer's disease-like pathology in mice. The researchers say the vaccinated mice generated an immune response to the protein known as amyloid-beta peptide, which accumulates in what are called "amyloid plaques" in brains of people with Alzheimer's. The study, published in Molecular Therapy, says the vaccinated mice demonstrated normal learning skills and functioning memory in spite of being genetically designed to develop an aggressive form of Alzheimer's disease. "Our study demonstrates that we can create a potent but safe version of a vaccine that utilizes the strategy of immune response shaping to prevent Alzheimer's-related pathologies and memory deficits," lead author William Bowers says in a statement. "The vaccinated mice not only performed better, we found no evidence of signature amyloid plaque in their brains." Bowers expects the vaccine eventually to be tested in people, but due to the number of studies required to satisfy regulatory requirements, it could be three or more years before human trials could occur.
Copyright 2008 by United Press International

Saturday, June 14, 2008


Want better health? Be an optimist
BOSTON (UPI) -- Studies suggest that optimists enjoy better health than pessimists, a U.S. newsletter reports. The May issue of Harvard Men's Health Watch says many studies have reported optimism influences health. The findings include: -- Optimistic coronary bypass patients were only half as likely as pessimists to require re-hospitalization. -- Highly pessimistic men were three times more likely to develop hypertension. -- People with positive emotions had lower blood pressures. -- In one study, the most pessimistic men were more than twice as likely to develop heart disease compared with the most optimistic. But people who are healthy are likely to have a brighter outlook than people who are ill, so perhaps optimism is actually the result of good health instead of the other way around. To counter this argument, scientists have adjusted their analyses to account for pre-existing medical conditions and these studies found that existing illnesses did not tarnish the benefits of optimism, the newsletter says. Optimists may enjoy better health and longer lives because they lead healthier lifestyles, build stronger social support networks and get better medical care, or optimism may have biological benefits, such as lower levels of stress hormones and less inflammation, the Health Watch says.

Friday, June 13, 2008


Vitamin D may prevent prostate cancer
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (UPI) -- Vitamin D not only can be used as a therapy for prostate cancer, it can prevent prostate cancer, a University of Rochester Medical Center suggests. The study, published in the International Journal of Cancer, finds vitamin D links with the gene G6PD increases its activity and the production of the enzyme glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase. Increased activity of the enzyme clears cells of reactive oxygen species -- the so-called free radicals. Reactive oxygen species can play a role in cell signaling and even kill bacteria but when there is chemical or radiation exposure high levels of reactive oxygen species damage DNA and can play a significant role in speeding aging or causing cancer. "If you reduce DNA damage, you reduce the risk of cancer or aging," study research leader Yi-Fen Lee said in a statement. "Our study adds one more beneficial effect of taking a vitamin D supplement. Taking a supplement is especially important for senior citizens and others who might have less circulation of vitamin D, and for people who live and work areas where there is less sunshine." The vitamin D used in the study is 1,25-hydroxylvitamin D3, the most potent and active form of vitamin D in the human body.
Copyright 2008 by United Press International

Thursday, June 12, 2008


Lifelong Health: Drugs That Cure One Problem Can Cause Even More Concerns
Dr. David Lipschitz
When it comes to managing medications, it is paramount that you understand every drug you use, whether prescribed, over the counter, or "natural." Negative drug interactions are a common cause for hospital admission. With age, taking multiple medications is more and more common. Understanding your own medications can be difficult enough, but for the caregiver of a dependent loved one, the whole process can be explosive. This is especially true for patients with Alzheimer's disease or other memory conditions, because so many medications can impair memory. A recent study presented before the American Academy of Neurology shows that anticholinergics, which are commonly prescribed for managing bowel and bladder conditions, directly conflict with the drugs commonly used to slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease. Scientists at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Md., studied the use of anticholinergics to treat urinary incontinence in 870 Catholic nuns and clergy members with an average age of 75. The results showed that cognitive function declined 50 percent faster in subjects who took anticholinergic drugs compared to those who did not. For the healthy individual, the impact of memory loss is minimal, but for patients with cognitive impairment such as Alzheimer's disease, this "speeding up" of memory decline is very serious. Ultimately, this study highlights how the science behind specific treatments and medications can have multiple unintended effects. In this case, the chemical messenger acetylcholine plays opposing roles in two different illnesses. Acetylcholine helps send neurological signals from one nerve cell to another. It mediates many important functions in the body, including retention of memory. One of the cardinal features of Alzheimer's disease is an impaired ability to retain short-term memory, caused by a depletion of acetylcholine levels in the brain. Today, the drugs used to treat Alzheimer's disease attempt to raise concentrations of acetylcholine in brain cells by inhibiting the enzyme responsible for its breakdown. The drugs Aricept, Razadyne and Exelon all inhibit this enzyme, called anticholinesterase; hence acetylcholine levels increase and memory improves. Acetylcholine also plays a role in stimulating the bladder to contract (leading to urination) and regulates normal and integrated movement of the gastrointestinal tract (leading to the orderly movement of food). Acetylcholine is responsible for releasing saliva at the beginning of a meal, explaining why your mouth waters when you think of food. Hyperactivity and dysfunctional contraction of the bowel and the bladder, such as "irritable bowel syndrome" or incontinence, are treated with anticholinergics, drugs that suppress acetylcholine levels. In the case of the bowel, the most commonly prescribed drugs are the anticholinergics Bentyl and Donnatol. They cause the bowel to relax, relieving abdominal pain, and together with diet they can help control the very uncomfortable symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. In the case of the bladder, the most common medication is Detrol. This drug causes the bladder to relax, expand more and contract more slowly. Simply put, for patients with memory loss, treatment will aim to boost acetylcholine levels. For patients with hyperactive bowel or bladder problems, treatment aims to suppress acetylcholine levels. If you have both conditions, the situation is not good. In some cases, you may be forced to choose one issue over another. For example, it may be more important to treat urinary incontinence or another medical condition benefiting from the use of anticholinergic drugs despite the negative impact on memory. Luckily, in the case of urinary incontinence, there are a series of newer, more expensive medications that do not cross into the brain. These include Vesicare, Enablex and Sanctura. It is said that these medications do not impair memory. When it comes to managing medications, it is vitally important that you understand the function of every drug you take. Older adults should always avoid medications that can impair memory or contribute to memory loss. In the fight against negative drug interactions, a pharmacist is your best asset. Find a good pharmacist, develop a relationship with him, and stick with the same pharmacy. This way, you and your pharmacist will be a strong team in identifying and avoiding any possible side effects of the drugs that you are taking. ======== 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.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


Women depressed at twice the rate of men
ARLINGTON, Va. (UPI) -- One in eight U.S. women gets depressed -- twice the rate of men -- a U.S. health group said. The National Alliance on Mental Illness said that major depression is a medical illness that affects a person's mind, mood, body and behavior. It is more than "feeling down" because of a recent loss or family, work or financial stresses. It occurs when these feelings become more intense and persist to the point that they affect daily functioning. Middle-age Hispanic women have the highest rate of symptoms followed by middle-aged African-American women. Young Asian American women have the second highest rate of suicide among those ages 15 to 24, but adolescent American Indian or Alaska natives are most likely to attempt suicide and die from suicide. "Nearly 18 million Americans experience depression every year," Dr. Ken Duckworth, medical director of National Alliance on Mental Illness. "Some experiences are unique to women, including post-partum changes, infertility and hormonal fluctuations throughout their lives." The good news is that with correct diagnosis, most people can be treated effectively, the bad news is that two-thirds of people living with depression don't get the help they need, Duckworth said. A 13-page brochure on women and depression can be downloaded at

Copyright 2008 by United Press International

Monday, June 9, 2008


Mammogram, not Biopsy, for Breast Lesions
SEATTLE (UPI) -- U.S. researchers say a woman with benign-looking breast lesions should not get not a biopsy but a follow-up mammogram. In a study published in American Journal of Roentgenology, researchers said six-month short-interval follow-up diagnostic mammogram had an 83 percent sensitivity rating -- meaning a relatively high proportion of true cancers were being identified, with a low proportion of cases mistakenly deemed benign. "Because the probability of cancer is so low, we don't want to put the patient through an unnecessary biopsy, which is an invasive procedure that increases both patient anxiety and medical costs," study lead author Erin J. Aiello Bowles of the Group Health Center for Health Studies in Seattle said in a statement. The study included 45,007 initial short-interval follow-up mammograms. In the study, 360 women with "probably benign" lesions were diagnosed with breast cancer within six months, and 506 women were diagnosed with cancer within 12 months. The approximately one out of a 100 probably benign lesions linked to a cancer diagnosis within the year points to a need to monitor these patients, because "we want to detect the cancers as early as possible," Bowles said. After the six-month diagnostic mammograms, follow-ups should continue for the next two to three years "until long-term stability is demonstrated."
Copyright 2008 by United Press International

Sunday, June 8, 2008


The 'Mulch Factor' a Barrier to Exercise
CINCINNATI (UPI) -- A U.S. pediatrician says she is surprised at the things -- like mulch -- that result in fewer children going outside to get exercise. Lead author Dr. Kristen Copeland of Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center conducted a study on barriers to outdoor physical activity at child-care centers. "It's things we never expected, from flip-flops, mulch near the playground, children who come to child care without a coat on chilly days, to teachers talking or texting on cell phones while they were supposed to be supervising the children," Copeland says in a statement. Copeland says they hadn't anticipated the "mulch factor." The many complaints about mulch in playgrounds including: children eating it, using it as weapons and getting it in their shoes. It is an issue generating "a great deal of intensity among child-care teachers, it really is," Copeland adds. The researchers conducted focus groups with 49 staff members from 34 child-care centers in the Cincinnati area. The findings are scheduled to be presented Sunday at the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies in Honolulu.

Saturday, June 7, 2008


I'm in control syndrome' hurts teens
CINCINNATI (UPI) -- The "I'm in control syndrome" may be the reason some teen asthma patients have problems managing the disease, U.S. researchers suggest. Lead author Dr. Maria Britto of Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center observed 74 percent of the adolescents in their study dramatically overestimated their ability to control their asthma when compared to the teens' own reports of symptoms, use of medication and limitation of activities. "We've known that adolescent asthma patients tend to have poorer outcomes than younger children with the condition, and this study shows that teens tend to think they're in control when they may be having difficulty," Britto said in a statement. The study included 201 adolescents with an average age of 16.2 years who were observed during clinical visits. The findings suggest that adolescents' perception of being in control may impact whether or not they follow treatment regimens and avoid situations that trigger their condition. "For those of us who treat teens with asthma, these findings will help us address with patients their perceived control versus what is actually going on," Britto said. The study is scheduled to be presented at the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Society in Honolulu Sunday.

Copyright 2008 by United Press International

Friday, June 6, 2008


Hundreds Potentially exposed to Rubella
MILWAUKEE (UPI) -- The Wisconsin Health Department says it is making attempts to warn 750 people they were potentially exposed to the rubella virus. The department has begun contacting hundreds of people, many of which are employed at the U.S. Bank building in Milwaukee, who could have made contact with an infected woman, WISN-TV in Milwaukee reported Wednesday. Dozens of people who commute into the city reportedly were also contacted because the "highly contagious" woman rode the Route 79 "Freeway Flyer" between April 12 and April 23. "We're asking individuals who receive this messaging to monitor for symptoms, to see their doctor if they have symptoms, and to make sure (they are) up to date on immunizations," said Paul Biedrzycki of the health department. Rubella, sometimes called the German Measles, can be detected by symptoms such as fever, swollen glands, rash and upper respiratory infection. Officials said they have confirmed six cases of measles and two cases of rubella in the Milwaukee area. Copyright 2008 by United Press International

Wednesday, June 4, 2008


Study: Sleep Loss Is Top Menopause Symptom
TUCSON (UPI) -- The biggest problem for women entering menopause is getting a good night's sleep, U.S. researchers said. The study, published in the Journal of Clinical Nursing, found 95 percent of the participants suffered sleep difficulties, 92 percent had forgetfulness, 87 percent suffered from irritability and 85 percent experienced night sweats. The researchers at the University of Arizona College of Nursing in Tucson found sleep difficulties were not only the most common symptom of menopause, but also were rated by the women in the study as the most severe symptom, followed by night sweats and irritability. "This contradicts earlier research which sought to link sleep difficulties with night sweats and problems like hot flashes or flushes" study leader Judith Berg said in statement. "Although the severity of these problems changed as the women progressed through the early stage of the menopause, the sleep difficulties the women reported remained fairly constant." Study participants included 110 women with an average age of 49 who had experienced their last period in the last three years.
Copyright 2008 by United Press International

Tuesday, June 3, 2008


Your Health: Time for a Coffee Break? Drink Tea for Your Health
Rallie McAllister, M.D., M.P.H.
Wouldn't it be great to find a drink that tastes good, quenches your thirst and improves your health, all at the same time? It's a tall order, but a glass of tea might just measure up. Tea is one of the most popular beverages in the world: global consumption of the tasty brew ranks second only to water. While tea is a favorite in many countries, Americans traditionally have favored a slug of coffee over a spot o' tea. These days, more health-conscious Americans are turning to tea, and with good reason. In the past decade, hundreds of studies have demonstrated its health-promoting and disease-preventing powers. Tea is rich in polyphenols, natural plant compounds with potent antibacterial and antiviral properties. The polyphenols in tea also serve as powerful antioxidants. In the body, these agents help neutralize free radicals -- high-energy molecules that contribute to the development of a number of deadly diseases, including cancer. The antioxidants in tea aren't the only ingredients that make it a powerful weapon in the war on cancer. A compound called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCg) appears to squelch an enzyme necessary for the growth of cancer cells. When researchers at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine applied EGCg to healthy and cancerous mouse cells, they found that the agent helped wipe out the cancer cells without harming the healthy ones. Harvard scientists reported that the EGCg in tea has protective powers against cancers of the digestive tract. The researchers concluded that EGCg triggers the production of proteins that can repair DNA damage before it leads to cancerous changes in the esophagus or stomach. In a study published in the medical journal Archives of Internal Medicine, researchers reported that women who drank two or more cups of tea per day had a 45 percent lower risk of ovarian cancer compared to women who never drank tea. Each additional daily cup of tea was associated with an 18 percent reduction in the risk of developing ovarian cancer. A growing body of evidence suggests that drinking tea is good for your heart. In a study conducted at Boston University, researchers asked 50 men and women diagnosed with heart disease to drink four cups of black tea daily for four weeks. Just two hours after downing the first cup, investigators found that drinking tea promoted widening of the subjects' arteries and significantly improved their blood flow. Both actions have beneficial effects on the heart. In addition to warding off cancer and heart disease, tea may boost the protective powers of the immune system. Drinking tea increases production of interferon, a substance known to play a key role in protecting the body against infection. When researchers at Harvard Medical Center asked adult volunteers to drink five cups of black tea each day for four weeks, they found that their blood cells secreted five times more interferon than before they began drinking tea. The results of a new study conducted by an international team of researchers from the University of Maryland and Cardiff University suggest that black tea could be an important line of defense against the threat of bioterrorism. The scientists reported that black tea can thwart the bacteria responsible for anthrax, a potentially deadly disease. In March 2008, Egyptian scientists reported that green tea can help beat drug-resistant superbugs. Natural compounds in the beverage dramatically boost the action of antibiotics, making them up to three times more effective at killing disease-causing bacteria. Recent animal studies suggest that drinking tea may be a simple, inexpensive way to help prevent diabetes and many of its complications. Researchers at the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania found that when diabetic rats drank the human equivalent of five cups of green or black tea daily, their blood sugar levels dropped and they had a reduced risk of developing cataracts and other diabetic complications. Drinking tea has long been associated with relaxation, and now there's scientific proof. In the medical journal Psychopharmacology, British researchers reported that regular consumption of tea helps individuals recover more quickly from the stresses of everyday life. The results of the study demonstrated that drinking tea not only helps normalize stress hormones in the body, it can lower stress-related rises in blood pressure and heart rate. When it comes to tasty, health-promoting beverages, tea is hard to beat. The next time your coffee break rolls around, you might want to consider having a cup of tea, instead.

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.

Monday, June 2, 2008


Your Health: Latest Research Touts Blueberries as Brain Food
Rallie McAllister, M.D., M.P.H.
An apple a day may keep the doctor away, but a daily serving of blueberries can help reduce your risk for dozens of debilitating illnesses, including obesity, cancer and Alzheimer's disease. Many fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of disease-fighting antioxidants, but recent research suggests that the antioxidants in blueberries, known as anthocyanins, are especially potent. In the brain and body, anthocyanins neutralize free radicals -- highly reactive molecules that can injure cellular components, particularly genetic material. Free radical-induced damage, known as oxidative damage, contributes to the aging process and to the development of disease. In recent years, blueberries have been elevated to the status of brain food. A growing body of scientific evidence suggests that the colorful fruit can help prevent -- and even reverse -- some age-related memory decline. When researchers from the University of Reading in Pennsylvania and Peninsula Medical School in England supplemented rats' regular diets with blueberries, they noted dramatic changes in the rodents' cognitive function. Animals treated with blueberries exhibited an 83 percent improvement on tests of memory within three weeks, and the improvement was maintained for the remainder of the 12-week study. Other studies have yielded similar results. Scientists at Tufts University in Boston found that when old rats were fed diets containing antioxidant-rich blueberry extracts for a period of just two months, they showed dramatic reversals of age-related declines in both mental and physical performance. Compared to untreated elderly rats, those given blueberry extracts scored highest on tests designed to measure balance and coordination. The blueberry-treated rodents also outperformed their untreated counterparts in terms of brain function and memory. Although scientists haven't uncovered the precise mechanism by which blueberries benefit the brain, they're making progress. It is known that certain chemical compounds in blueberries, called flavonoids, are capable of crossing the blood-brain barrier. It is widely believed that blueberry-derived flavonoids may help improve learning and memory by enhancing communication among brain cells. Some experts speculate that these beneficial compounds may even stimulate the growth of new brain cells. At the very least, the flavonoids in blueberries exert a strong anti-inflammatory action in the brain. Inflammation is known to play a key role in the progression of Alzheimer's and other degenerative diseases of the central nervous system. Eating blueberries appears to be just as beneficial for your body as it is for your brain. Last year, scientists at Rutgers University and the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced their findings that a chemical compound in blueberries may help prevent colon cancer, the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States. The compound, known as pterostilbene, reduced the development of pre-cancerous lesions in laboratory animals by nearly 60 percent. Pterostilbene works by decreasing inflammation and inhibiting the growth and proliferation of cells, two processes that significantly increase the risk of developing colon cancer. Pterostilbene has also been shown to lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Scientists at the U.S. Department of Agriculture demonstrated that the blueberry-derived compound can lower cholesterol levels as effectively as some prescription drugs, but with far fewer side effects. Another compound in blueberries, called epicatechin, can help prevent bladder and kidney infections. Research conducted at Rutgers University demonstrated that epicatechin keeps harmful bacteria from latching onto cells lining the urinary tract, thwarting their ability to cause infection. A number of recent studies suggest that consuming a diet rich in blueberries may help lower blood pressure. University of Maine researchers found that in the presence of stress hormones, the arteries of lab animals fed blueberry-enriched diets remained more relaxed than those of their untreated counterparts. In spite of their sweet and delicious taste, a half-cup serving of blueberries offers just over 80 calories. Because they're rich in nutrients and high in fiber, the berries make a satisfying snack. Compounds in the tasty fruit may even help reduce the risk of weight gain and the development of obesity. According to the results of a study published in a recent issue of the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, mice fed high-fat diets and blueberry-derived anthocyanins gained significantly less weight and body fat than mice consuming high-fat diets alone. If you're in search of a snack that can improve your health, boost your brainpower and make your taste buds happy, a bowlful of blueberries might be your best bet. ======== 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.

Sunday, June 1, 2008


Putting on the pounds 'doubles prostate cancer risk'

The risk of dying from prostate cancer is doubled if the sufferer is carrying too much weight, according to research published today.
Doctors compared the chances of survival of 788 patients against their body mass index - the measure of obesity that takes into account weight and height.
Within five years of diagnosis, the prostate cancer death rate for men with a normal BMI - 25 or under - was less than 7 per cent against 13 per cent for men with a BMI over 25.
Men who have prostate cancer and a BMI of more than 25 are doubling the death risk of the disease
Cancer campaigners said the findings were of "great concern" in the light of the growing obesity crisis.
Every year nearly 35,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer in Britain and 10,000 men die from it.
It is the most common cancer diagnosed in men, with at least one person dying from the disease every hour. Many more are thought to have the disease without realising it.
Dr Jason Efstathiou and colleagues from Massachusetts General Hospital, in Boston, studied 788 patients with locally advanced prostate cancer - the form where the cancer has spread outside the prostate gland.
Overall, men who were moderately fat - with a BMI of between 25 and 30 - were 1.5 times more likely to die from their cancer than those with a "normal" BMI of 25, Dr Efstathiou found.
Obese men, those with a BMI higher than 30, were 1.6 times more likely to die from their disease, the researchers report in the journal Cancer.
Body mass index is measured by taking someone's weight in kilograms and dividing it by the square of their height in metres.
Dr Efstathiou, whose team took into account other reasons why the cancer is more deadly for fat men, such as their income, social background and general health, said it was unclear whether losing weight after being diagnosed would alter the course of the disease.
Approximately 12,000 men are diagnosed with locally advanced prostate cancer in Britain each year.
Treatments for prostate cancer include the complete surgical removal of the prostate, radiation and hormonal therapy.
The Prostate Cancer Charity called for more studies into the link between obesity and post-treatment survival.
Ingrid Spickett, senior nurse at the charity said: "This large scale study is of great concern consideringthe rising levels of obesity here in the UK.
"We now need to ask what impact these men's particular treatments may have had on their survival and whether there other factors such as poor diet and lack of exercise may play a role.
"We also need more studies to see whether the same is true of men who are diagnosed with localised prostate cancer and men who have different treatments."
Earlier this month, a major study from the World Cancer Research Fund highlighted the links between diet, obesity and cancer.
Some nutrients - including selenium and lycopene, found in tomatoes - can protect against the disease.