Thursday, July 31, 2008


Ten Ways To Reduce Cancer Risk
SEATTLE (UPI) -- Taking anti-cancer medication is one of 10 ways a U.S. health group says people can lessen cancer risks. Experts at the American Cancer Society suggest several medications such as tamoxifen or raloxifene reduce the risk for cancer and those at risk should talk to a doctor about the pros and cons of these medications. The American Cancer Society also suggests avoiding cancer-causing chemicals and radiation exposures. "Make sure that any physician who orders an X-ray for you, especially high-dose ones like CT scans, knows how many previous X-rays you have had. If it is not an emergency medical situation, ask whether there is an alternative examination that for you, such as ultrasound or magnetic resonance imaging, which do not have radiation," a American Cancer Society spokesman said in a statement. "Limiting X-ray exposure is especially important for children and teens." Four more ways to lessen cancer risk are keeping alcohol consumption low, protecting the skin from sun, limiting the use of menopausal hormone replacement therapy and not using tobacco. Four pro-active ways to lessen risk are getting tested regularly, eating an anti-cancer diet, maintaining a healthy weight and keeping physically active. Moderate exercise reduces the risk of several cancers by 30 percent to 50 percent.

Copyright 2008 by United Press International

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Spring Cleaning For The Nose
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (UPI) -- April may mean allergies for many in the United States and a sinus expert offers help via nasal irrigation. Dr. Melissa Pynnonen of the University of Michigan Health System in Ann Arbor finds "patients who used nasal irrigation, experienced as much improvement as some patients with chronic sinusitis get with sinus surgery." Likening nasal irrigation to "a power washer for your nose," Pynnonen finds it "does a great job of treating symptoms that otherwise aren't well treated with medicine." The solution, can be as simple -- and cheap -- as a quarter-teaspoon of kosher salt, 8 ounces of warm tap water and one-quarter-teaspoon of baking soda, Pynnonen said. Patients new to nasal irrigation often use an 8-ounce squeeze bottle. Another method is a device resembling a miniature teapot -- called a neti-pot -- that pours, instead of squeezes, the solution. Some use turkey basters or syringes like those used to suction a baby's nose. Four ounces of the solution is squirted or poured into each nostril. The solution exits through the opposite nostril. To prevent the solution from coming out of the mouth, Pynnonen recommends opening the mouth and making a "K" sound, which closes off the mouth and throat.

Copyright 2008 by United Press International

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


Less sleep, more TV, ups toddler weight
BOSTON (UPI) -- Infants and toddlers who sleep less than 12 hours a day are twice as likely to become overweight by age 3 than children who sleep longer, a U.S. study found. The study, published in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, found children who sleep less than 12 hours and who view two or more hours of television per day have a 16 percent chance of becoming overweight by age 3. "Mounting research suggests that decreased sleep time may be more hazardous to our health than we imagined," lead author Dr. Elsie Taveras of the Harvard Medical School's Department of Ambulatory Care and Prevention says in a statement. "We are now learning that those hazardous effects are true even for young infants." The study involved 915 mother-infant pairs from Project Viva, a long-term study of the effects of diet and other lifestyle factors on maternal and child health over time. Infant weight and measurements were taken at several in-person visits up to age 3. Mothers reported how many hours their child slept per day on average at 6 months, 1 year, and 2 years. Parents were also asked to report the average number of hours their children watched television on weekdays and weekends.

Copyright 2008 by United Press International

Monday, July 28, 2008


Girls' clothing tied to mental health
LONDON (UPI) -- The type of clothing worn by young girls could influence their likelihood of suffering mental problems later, British researchers say. Researchers reached the conclusion in a study of British and Bangladeshi adolescents published in Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, Bangladeshi pupils who wore traditional clothing were significantly less likely to have mental health problems than those whose style of dress was a mix of traditional and British/North American tastes, but only for girls. White British pupils who chose to wear a mix of clothes from their own and other cultures enjoyed relatively good mental health, the study showed. The findings were based on almost 1,000 Bangladeshi and Caucasian British students, ages 11 to 14, who attended East London schools with diverse populations. The youths were questioned on social life, culture and health in 2001. They were surveyed on mental health two years later.

Copyright 2008 by United Press International

Sunday, July 27, 2008


Teens unaware driving behavior is risky
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (UPI) -- Car fatalities are the top killer of Alabama teens, often because of risky behaviors teens don't define as risky, researchers said. Dr. Nancy Rhodes of the University of Alabama said her studies show teens experiment with different types of risky behavior, but risk-taking is especially dangerous behind the wheel of a car, and is prominent with high-school age young adults. Rhodes' studies show that risky behaviors can include taking a curve too fast, being distracted by passengers or talking on a cell phone -- behaviors that teens often don't define as risky. "Teens can look around them and see everyone else, including their parents, doing things they shouldn't while driving, such as using a cell phone, speeding or playing with the radio," Nita Hestevold of the University of Alabama Institute for Social Science Research. "They don't understand that, while this behavior is unsafe for all drivers, younger drivers are less experienced and have not yet automated their driving skills, so the same behaviors put teen drivers at higher risk of crashing," he said. Teenage drinking and driving only accounts for 10 percent of teens' crashes. "For teens, bad choices are more likely to be made because of teens' inexperience and social pressures," Hestevold said.

Copyright 2008 by United Press International

Saturday, July 26, 2008


Shots needed before heading abroad
DALLAS (UPI) -- Travelers headed to the Beijing Olympics or other international destinations should get vaccinations early, a U.S. infectious-disease specialist said. Dr. Doug Hardy of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and Children's Medical Center Dallas said people headed overseas are more likely to develop traveler's diarrhea than a serious disease but it's better to be safe than sorry. Though the risk of contracting a serious disease is slight, hepatitis A and B and measles are problematic and malaria is a present in some rural areas of China. "More than 3 million people are expected to attend the Olympic and Paralympic Games from all over the world, including some from areas without access to all the preventative vaccines available in the United States," Hardy said in a statement. "It's important to make sure you're up-to-date on all routine and travel-related vaccines before departing for China or any other international destination." The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that travelers headed to developing countries be vaccinated against hepatitis A, hepatitis B and typhoid. The CDC also recommends that individuals visiting certain destinations be vaccinated against Japanese encephalitis, meningococcal meningitis, rabies and yellow fever.

Copyright 2008 by United Press International

Friday, July 25, 2008


Women don't want to give sex history
MELBOURNE (UPI) -- A study of young women in Australia said they would prefer age-based screening for the sexually transmitted infection Chlamydia if it was offered to all. The study, published in the journal BMC Infectious Diseases, found the Australian women interviewed did not like discussing their sex lives with their primary care physician. Some said they would even lie about how many sexual partners they'd had if asked. In response to the findings, the study authors suggest a detailed sexual history should not be required before testing women for Chlamydia. A team of three doctors, a sociologist and an epidemiologist at the University of Melbourne interviewed 24 sexually active women ages 16 to 24 who attended one of a sample of general practices. In contrast to previous research -- which suggested women are not concerned about giving information about their sexual history in the context of a family planning or sexual health clinic -- interviewees were reluctant to provide such a history to their doctor. This is a new finding which raises the question of whether a sexual history is really necessary when screening for Chlamydia, the researchers said. "The importance of normalizing the offer of Chlamydia testing, so that individual women do not feel singled out, cannot be overemphasized," study coordinator Natasha Pavlin said in a statement.

Copyright 2008 by United Press International

Thursday, July 24, 2008


Dairy, calcium may not help in weight loss
ASHEVILLE, N.C. (UPI) -- Despite claims that dairy products may help people lose weight, a U.S. review found neither dairy nor calcium intake promotes weight loss. Amy Joy Lanou of the University of North Carolina at Asheville and Dr. Neal Barnard with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine in Washington evaluated 49 clinical trials from 1966 to 2007 that assessed the effect of milk, dairy products or calcium intake on body weight and body mass index, with or without the use of dieting. The review, published in the journal Nutrition Reviews, indicated that neither dairy products nor calcium supplements helped people lose weight. Of the 49 clinical trials, 41 showed no effect, two demonstrated weight gain, one showed a lower rate of weight gain and five showed weight loss. "Our findings demonstrate that increasing dairy product intake does not consistently result in weight or fat loss and may actually have the opposite effect," the review authors said in a statement.

Copyright 2008 by United Press International

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


People shouldn't have to lose weight alone
WASHINGTON (UPI) -- People can't lose weight alone and a broad range of local, state and federal levels can help people adopt healthy behavior, U.S. researchers said. A comprehensive, population-based strategy is needed to reduce the alarming prevalence of U.S. obesity said the Population-Based Prevention of Obesity, a new American Heart Association scientific statement published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association. It recommends an approach that would complement individually oriented strategies, including clinic-based prevention and treatment programs to lose weight. "Almost all of our current eating or activity patterns are those that promote weight gain -- using the least possible amount of energy or maximizing quantity rather than quality in terms of food," said Shiriki Kumanyika, chair of the working group that wrote the statement. "People haven't just made the decision to eat more and move less; the social structure has played into people's tendencies to go for convenience foods and labor-saving devices." Preventing weight gain should be easier, socially acceptable and more rewarding for the average person, Kumanyika said.

Copyright 2008 by United Press International

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


Babies missing out on 'tummy time'
CHICAGO (UPI) -- Having babies sleep on their backs reduces Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, but losing out on tummy time hurts their muscles, U.S. researchers say. With babies sleeping on their backs, they miss out on the 12 hours of tummy time they used to get during sleep. As a result, many babies don't get the stretching and strengthening of the back and neck muscles they need. This can lead to early motor delay, said the Pathways Awareness Medical Round Table, a group of pediatricians, surgeons, physical therapists, nurses and researchers. Studies show 1 in 40 babies are diagnosed with early motor delay and 400,000 babies a year are at risk. The term "early motor delay" describes a wide variety of conditions, ranging from low muscle tone to cerebral palsy. The Pathways Medical Round Table developed a set of standards for tummy time that outline when to start, how much babies need and the best ways to encourage the activity. Some early motor delays are present at birth, and others develop or are exacerbated because of lack of tummy time, however, with physical therapy children catch up quickly. For more information, contact the National Information Line: 1-800-955-2445 or 1-800-955-CHILD.
Copyright 2008 by United Press International

Monday, July 21, 2008


Women May Respond Less to Two Heart Drugs
NEW YORK (UPI) -- Women may respond less favorably than men to cardiovascular disease drug treatments -- losartan and atenolol -- for enlarged hearts, U.S. researchers said. Researchers at the NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center said women derive a lesser benefit than men from the two common high-blood pressure-lowering drugs for the reduction of left-ventricular hypertrophy. The condition is a thickening and enlargement of muscle of the left ventricle of the heart and a marker for future heart disease. The observations were made despite results showing that blood pressure reduction was similar between genders. The findings might explain how this underlying condition puts women at greater risk for heart disease later in life. "Women have a greater chance of dying of their first heart attack and from stroke, and they tend to have more cardiovascular problems later in life compared with men," lead author Dr. Peter M. Okin, a cardiologist at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell said in a statement. The study and accompanying editorial were published in Hypertension, the journal of the American Heart Association.
Copyright 2008 by United Press International

Sunday, July 20, 2008


'Slow exercise' better for older women
SALZBURG, Austria (UPI) -- Slow exercise -- not fast -- may be better for menopausal women, University of Salzburg researchers said. Study leader Dr. Alexandra Sanger investigated two particular methods of physical training. Hypertrophy resistance training is a traditional approach designed to induce muscle growth, while "SuperSlow" is a more recently devised system which involves much slower movement and fewer repetitions of exercises and was originally introduced especially for beginners and for rehabilitation. "Our results indicate that both methods increase muscle mass at the expense of connective and fatty tissue, but contrary to expectations, the SuperSlow method appears to have the greatest effect," Sanger said in a statement. "These findings will be used to design specific exercise programs for everyday use to reduce the risk of injury and thus significantly contribute to a better quality of life in old age." The study focused on groups of menopausal women 45 to 55 years old, the age group in which muscle deterioration starts to become apparent. Groups undertook supervised regimes over 12 weeks, based on each of the training methods. The findings are being presented at the Society for Experimental Biology's annual meeting in Marseilles, France.

Copyright 2008 by United Press International

Saturday, July 19, 2008


Vitamin D levels of moms-to-be affect baby
TORONTO (UPI) -- Women with low vitamin D levels during pregnancy may wind up with children with more cavities, Canadian researchers warn. Researchers at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg and Victoria say enamel defects are a risk factor for early tooth decay in children. The researchers tested vitamin D levels in 206 pregnant women in their second trimester and found 21 women, or just 10.5 percent, were found to have adequate vitamin D levels. Vitamin D concentrations were related to the frequency of milk consumption and pre-natal vitamin use. The investigators examined 135 children and found that 21.6 percent of them had enamel defects, while 33.6 had early-childhood tooth decay. Mothers of children with enamel defects had lower, but not significantly different, mean vitamin D concentrations during pregnancy than those of children without defects. However, mothers of children with early-childhood tooth decay had significantly lower vitamin D levels than those whose children were cavity-free. Infants with enamel defects were significantly more likely to have early-childhood tooth decay. The findings were presented at the 86th general session of the International Association for Dental Research in Toronto.

Copyright 2008 by United Press International

Friday, July 18, 2008


Gene may make women at higher alcohol risk
BONN, Germany (UPI) -- Women with a particular genetic make-up could be at greater risk of becoming dependent on alcohol, German and Swedish researchers suggest. Researchers at the University of Bonn and Sweden's Karolinska Institute said a gene in the endorphin metabolism is altered more often in women alcoholics than in healthy women. Endorphins activate the reward system in the brain. The theory is that without these "happiness" hormones people would go easy on alcohol. The researchers tested the theory and gave mice that couldn't produce endorphins due to a genetic mutation water or ethanol solution. Overall, mice without endorphins drank less alcohol than their relatives with endorphins -- particularly in female mice, Dr. Ildiko Racz from the Bonn Institute of Molecular Psychiatry said. Racz said that in humans, the scientists scrutinized genes of 500 female and male alcoholics for peculiarities. "We were able to show that two genetic changes in the genes of female alcoholics occurred significantly more frequently than in healthy women," Racz said in a statement. "We don't know what the exact effect of these changes is." The researchers said they can only evaluate how large the influence of the genetic mutations with further research. The findings are published in the journal Biological Psychiatry.

Copyright 2008 by United Press International

Thursday, July 17, 2008


Study: Women more likely to get dementia
IRVINE, Calif. (UPI) -- Women age 90 and over are more likely to have dementia than men age 90 and over, researchers at the University of California at Irvine said. The researchers reviewed an analysis of 911 people enrolled in one of the nation's largest studies of dementia and other health factors in the fastest-growing U.S. age demographic. Forty-five percent of the women had dementia, compared to 28 percent of the men, but researchers are not sure why dementia is more prevalent among the women the same age as men. However, the results also showed that women with a higher education appeared to be as much as 45 percent less likely to have dementia compared to women with less education. "Our findings show that more will need to be done to provide adequate resources to care for the increasing number of very old people with dementia," study corresponding author Maria Corrada said in a release. The frequency of dementia increases with age from less than 2 percent for the 65- to 69-year-olds, to 5 percent for the 75- to 79-year-olds and to more than 20 percent for the 85 to 89-year-olds. The study appears in the online issue of Neurology.
Copyright 2008 by United Press International

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


Keeping The Lead Out Of Kids
CINCINNATI (UPI) -- A U.S. hospital warns children -- especially those age 6 and under -- need to be protected from lead exposure. Researchers at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center find renovating older homes may increase a child's lead exposure. Everyone -- especially children -- not working on a renovation should be kept out of the home -- ideally, children should stay with a friends or relatives until the work is done. "There are risks to renovating older homes, but there also are lots of ways parents can reduce the risk of lead exposure to their children," Dr. Adam Spanier says in a statement. "Preventing exposure is the key." Spanier advises parents unsure about lead hazards to call the National Lead Information Center at 1-800-424-LEAD or to visit the Environmental Protection Agency's Web site -- -- which lists laboratories that test lead paint. If there are lead hazards, professional abatement is the best option, Spanier says. Spanier says home remodelers can take precautions by: -- Misting before sanding/scraping. -- Attaching high efficiency particulate air, or HEPA, vacuums to all power tools. -- Covering doorways, windows and floors with heavy plastic and shutting down any air conditioning/heating vents -- Properly disposing of debris.

Copyright 2008 by United Press International

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


Your Health: Herbal Extract May Improve Brain Function in Alzheimer's Patients
Rallie McAllister, M.D., M.P.H.
A natural chemical compound derived from a plant known as Chinese club moss may offer significant benefits to individuals suffering from Alzheimer's disease. A team of scientists from Sichuan University in China reached this conclusion last month after reviewing the results of six clinical trials involving a total of 454 patients. The active ingredient in Chinese club moss is huperzine A, and it works by blocking the action of an enzyme that breaks down acetylcholine in the brain. Acetylcholine is a chemical messenger that plays a critical role in normal brain function -- including learning, thinking and memory. Alzheimer's disease is believed to be caused, at least in part, by destruction of acetylcholine-producing neurons in the brain. As more of these neurons are destroyed over time, levels of acetylcholine become so low that the brain is unable to function normally. By preventing -- or at least slowing -- the breakdown of acetylcholine in the brain, huperzine A effectively enhances brain function. Data from numerous clinical trials suggest that when patients with Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia take supplements containing the herbal extract, they experience significant gains in terms of mood, memory, behavior, overall clinical status and quality of life. Even better, regular use of huperzine A appears to slow the inevitable progression of Alzheimer's, especially in the early stages of the disease. The actions of the herb are so promising that in 2004 the National Institute on Aging launched the first large U.S. clinical trial to evaluate it as a treatment for mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease. Chinese club moss, known in scientific circles as huperzia serrata, has been used for centuries by traditional healers as a natural remedy for the treatment of inflammation and fever. In recent decades, huperzine A has become the most commonly prescribed medication in China for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease and for other forms of dementia and memory problems. The mechanism of action of huperzine A is remarkably similar to that of several prescription drugs approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease, including donepezil, marketed as Aricept, and tacrine, sold under the trade name Cognex. Both medications are associated with a number of unpleasant side effects, including nausea, diarrhea and insomnia. To date, there are no reports of significant adverse side effects associated with the use of huperzine A in doses ranging from 200 micrograms to 400 micrograms daily. The results of several clinical trials suggest that huperzine A is equally effective -- or even superior to -- the currently available FDA-approved prescription drugs in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease. Compared to the medication tacrine, huperzine A appears to cross the blood-brain barrier more readily, remain effective longer, and have less potential for the development of drug tolerance and liver toxicity. There's no doubt that huperzine A may provide significant benefits for patients suffering from Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia. A growing body of scientific evidence suggests that the plant compound may also prove beneficial in the treatment of a number of unrelated diseases and disorders. A team of researchers from Harvard Medical School and the University of Utah recently reported their findings that in animal studies the herbal extract served as an effective treatment for the prevention of epileptic seizures. Epilepsy is a brain disorder that has several underlying mechanisms, but all epileptic seizures are characterized by abnormal electrical activity and the uncontrolled firing of neurons in the brain. Huperzine A appears to help normalize electrical activity in the central nervous system and reduce the potential for seizures by blocking the action of glutamate, a brain chemical that can trigger neurons to fire out of control. Huperzine A is known to protect nerve cells from toxic substances and has been used successfully in the treatment of myasthenia gravis, a disease marked by varying degrees of muscle weakness and dysfunction. Commonly referred to as a "smart drug," the plant compound has also been used to boost alertness and concentration in folks in all stages of life, ranging from young adulthood to old age. In a number of clinical trials, individuals treated with huperzine A showed dramatic improvements on tests of learning and memory compared to those receiving placebo pills. Although huperzine A is generally considered safe for use by healthy adults, individuals diagnosed with any health conditions, including Alzheimer's disease, should use the supplement only as directed by a physician. ======== 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, July 14, 2008


Lifelong Health: Egg a Day Could Be OK, Based on 20-Year Study
Dr. David Lipschitz
A remarkable study just published in the very influential American Journal of Clinical Nutrition examined the effects of eggs on the risk of heart attack and stroke in middle-aged and older men. Egg yolks contain high concentrations of saturated fats and cholesterol, and for years it has been assumed that too many eggs would increase cholesterol levels, predisposing egg lovers to heart attacks and strokes. The results of this new study not only challenged the traditional thinking but also illuminated some very surprising effects of long-term egg consumption. This study followed the health of 21,000 male physicians for 20 years. At the beginning, the average age of participants was 54. Each year, the men filled out a questionnaire in which they described their physical activity; their health conditions, including the presence of diabetes or high blood pressure; and whether they took aspirin. They also listed their egg, vegetable and cereal consumption. Men who consumed up to six eggs weekly tended to be older, heavier and had higher cholesterol levels. Remarkably, despite the heavy consumption of eggs, these participants experienced no increase in the risk of heart attack or stroke, nor did it affect overall health. But for reasons that are totally unexplained, those who consumed seven or more eggs weekly were 23 percent more likely to die of any cause during the study, and the risk was particularly high in diabetics. In other words, heavy egg eaters were more likely to die from cancer, lung disease and even motor vehicle accidents. This is not the first time that research has shown similar findings. For more than 30 years, we have known that lowering cholesterol by the use of medications, such as statins, dramatically decreases the risk of heart attack and stroke, but it does not prolong life expectancy. Patients who stave off heart disease just die of other causes. Before egg lovers everywhere revolt, it is important to analyze the details of this study. First and foremost, the results confirm that reducing the risk of one disease does not necessarily mean a longer life. So focusing solely on one medical concern is not the best approach. Furthermore, just because a study shows a statistically significant difference between one group and another (egg eaters vs. egg abstainers), that does not mean that it is important or of any relevance. What exactly does a 23 percent increased risk of death in egg eaters mean? Let's assume that the number of individuals dying in the group who did not eat eggs averaged one per 1,000 individuals per year. Then a 23 percent increase in risk of death means that 1.23 per 1,000 individuals would die annually in the group eating a large number of eggs weekly. Simply put, the difference is not of great relevance. Many research studies purport to show a significant benefit or disadvantage of a certain food, intervention or medication. But that does not mean the study is of any importance whatsoever. Remember, statistics can be misleading. Let's look a little more closely at this study on eating eggs. Eggs are a great source of protein, but they contain a great deal of cholesterol. They are extremely nutritious, containing many other valuable nutrients. And most importantly, eggs are very cheap. In areas of the world where malnutrition is epidemic, eggs can save lives. And in the United States, it is quite clear that eggs can constitute a valuable component of a healthy lifestyle. An egg a day may not be unhealthy, particularly if it is a part of a heart-healthy diet that includes the right fats (olive and canola oils and a small serving of nuts as a source of omega-3 fatty acids), the right protein (lean meat and fatty fish), all the fruits and vegetables you want, and moderate starch consumption. A diet such as this will lower the risk of many illnesses and conditions, including cancer, heart disease and diabetes. On the other hand, if the high-egg diet also includes hefty servings of red meat, fried foods, loaded baked potatoes and rich desserts, your cholesterol will be high, you will be overweight, and your risk of early death will increase. Bottom line: An egg a day is fine if it's part of a plan promoting a healthy life. Be an educated consumer of health care, and make sure you understand how to interpret any research study. ======== 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

Sunday, July 13, 2008


Study: Method to predict IVF success
STANFORD, Calif. (UPI) -- California researchers say they have identified a method that can predict with 70 percent accuracy if in vitro fertilization will make a woman pregnant. Study leader Dr. Mylene Yao of Stanford University School of Medicine said in typical IVF cycle produces five to 12 embryos, and doctors aim to transfer the "best quality" one or two into a woman's uterus. Nationwide, the percentage of IVF cycles that result in pregnancy for women using their own eggs ranges from about 18 percent to 45 percent, depending on age and other factors. Yao and colleagues analyzed clinical data from 665 IVF cycles performed at Stanford in 2005. They looked at 30 variables and examined the association of each variable with IVF outcomes. The study, published in the journal PLoS One, found that four factors were most important in determining a woman's chance of becoming pregnant: total number of embryos, number of eight-cell embryos, percentage of embryos that stopped dividing and would die and the woman's follicle-stimulating hormone level, a measurement that estimates ovarian function. The four factors together were 70 percent accurate in predicting whether the current IVF cycle would result in a pregnancy, the study said.

Copyright 2008 by United Press International

Saturday, July 12, 2008


ATLANTA (UPI) -- The number of HIV/AIDS diagnoses from 2001 to 2006 among men who have sex with men increased 8.6 percent, U.S. health officials said. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta conducted an analysis of trends in diagnoses of HIV/AIDS among men who have sex with men in the 33 states that have had confidential, name-based HIV case reporting since at least 2001. From 2001-06, an estimated 214,379 people had HIV/AIDS diagnosed in the 33 states. Of these diagnoses, 46 percent were in men who have sex with men and 4 percent were in men who have sex with men who engaged in illicit injection-drug use, the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report said. Among males, men who have sex with men accounted for 97,577, or 63 percent of cases. Men ages 25 to 44 years accounted for 64 percent of cases among men who have sex with men. From 2001-06, a 12.40percent increase in the number of HIV/AIDS diagnoses among all black men who have sex with men was observed; however, an increase of 93.1 percent was observed among black men who have sex with men ages 13 to 24 years.
Copyright 2008 by United Press International

Friday, July 11, 2008


LONDON (UPI) -- In Britain, the rate of sexually transmitted diseases was highest among women ages 45 to 54, but highest among men age 55 to 60, researchers said. Researchers monitored the numbers of sexually transmitted diseases diagnosed in 19 sexual health clinics and reported to the Health Protection Agency's Regional Surveillance Unit from 1996 to 2003. In total, 4,445 sexually transmitted disease episodes were identified among people ages 45 and older during that time. Most were straight men and women. The study, published in the journal Sexually Transmitted Infections, found rates of sexually transmitted diseases have doubled among those over age 45 during the study period. The most commonly diagnosed infection among those older than 45 was genital warts -- 45 percent. Herpes was the next most common, accounting for 19 percent. Cases of Chlamydia, herpes, warts, gonorrhea and syphilis all rose sharply among the middle-aged, the study said. The cumulative rate of infections more than doubled from 16.7 per 100,000 of the population in 1996 to 36.3 per 100,000 of the population in 2003. The numbers of infections identified in younger age groups rose 97 percent during the period of the study while those identified in the over 45 age group rose 127 percent.

Copyright 2008 by United Press International

Thursday, July 10, 2008


British, U.S. children not active enough
LONDON (UPI) -- British and U.S. guidelines on how much physical activity children need to boost their health and stave off obesity need to be revised, researchers said. The study, published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood, found 42 percent of boys and 11 percent of girls met the 60-minute guideline. The researchers base their findings on the long-term monitoring of 113 boys and 99 girls from 54 different schools, all of whom were age 5 when the study started. The children's weekly physical activity levels were measured using a tiny device worn around the waist. Changes in weight and predictive health indicators, such as insulin resistance, blood fat levels, cholesterol levels and blood pressure were measured annually between the ages of 5 and 8. Taken together, these health indicators reflect the risk of developing cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Both the British and U.S. guidelines recommend children be moderately physically active for at least one hour every day, however, the study found some spending as little as 10 minutes a day at the recommended intensity while others were spending more than 90 minutes a day.

Copyright 2008 by United Press International

Wednesday, July 9, 2008


Teen Alcohol, Drugs 'Zero Tolerance' Works
NEW YORK (UPI) -- Parents who drank or used drugs at their proms or graduations are likely to be more permissive toward their kids than those who didn't, a U.S. survey indicates. The survey released by Partnership for a Drug-Free America and MetLife Foundation indicates that among parents who drank or used drugs at their prom, 66 percent set a "zero tolerance policy" for their teens. Among parents who did not use alcohol or drugs at their prom, 87 percent set hard rules about drinking and drugs for their children. Fifty-one percent of parents who used drugs or alcohol are more likely to suspect that teens will as well, vs. 36 percent of parents who didn't use drugs or alcohol. Sixteen percent of teens whose parents set a zero tolerance policy for drugs and alcohol reported they were likely to use drugs or alcohol, while 45 percent of teens whose parents didn't set such boundaries reported they were likely to drink or use drugs at a prom or graduation party this year. The survey of 1,000 teens in grades nine to 12 and 1,003 parents, conducted by Kelton Research, has a margin of error of 3.1 percent.

Copyright 2008 by United Press International

Tuesday, July 8, 2008


Racial disparity in Ill. amputation rate
CHICAGO (UPI) -- African-American neighborhoods have an incidence rate of amputations from diabetes five times higher than that of white neighborhoods, researchers say. The study, published in the Journal of Vascular Surgery, found that in the South and West sides of Chicago, African-Americans comprised less than 15 percent of the population, but accounted for 27 percent of all amputation discharges for 33,775 patients at 171 hospitals during the study period of 1987 to 2004. Lead author Joseph M. Feinglass and co-author William H. Pearce of the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago said statistics for the 8 million residents in northern Illinois indicate that major -- above and below knee -- amputation rates declined to 17 per 100,000 residents in the last decade. Better diabetes management, introduction of statin drugs -- which benefit patients with peripheral arterial disease -- and improved vascular surgery and angioplasty procedures, including increased lower extremity stent replacement, are the most likely reasons for the reduction of overall amputations, the researchers said. "However, lack of access to educational opportunities or medical care in both the Hispanic and African-American communities creates racial disparities which have remained constant, despite progress in reducing the overall major amputation rate," Pearce said in a statement.

Copyright 2008 by United Press International

Monday, July 7, 2008


Dentist: Implant Tops 'Bridge to Nowhere'
CHARLESTON, S.C. (UPI) -- Aging dental bridges are a maintenance headache and a recipe for oral-health disaster and implants, though more expensive, are preferable, a U.S. dentist said. Dr. Olivia Palmer of Charleston, S.C., said bridges are hard to floss, often decay and require replacement with longer bridges. "Many of us have had the same bridges in our mouths for 20 years or more. They were put in at a time when bridgework was considered to be the norm for replacing missing or compromised teeth," Palmer said in a statement. "An old bridge is basically worthless for preserving good dental health. In essence, it's a bridge to nowhere." The American Academy of Implant Dentistry said these types of bridges should be replaced with permanent dental implants. Palmer says bridges generally fail after five to 10 years because patients have trouble flossing them. Root surfaces below and around bridgework often decay unless kept meticulously clean with flossing and the entire bridge must be replaced and the teeth supporting the old bridge are often lost. "With an estimated two of three Americans having at least one missing tooth, implants are becoming the preferred tooth-replacement option. Implant surgery is one of the safest, most precise and predictable procedures in dentistry," Palmer said.

Copyright 2008 by United Press International

Sunday, July 6, 2008


Active Video Games May Help Spur Exercise
INDIANAPOLIS (UPI) -- Active video games appear helpful in encouraging youth to exercise, researchers at the American College of Sports Medicine in Indianapolis said. One study examined energy expenditure for active video games compared to sedentary games to see just how much more exercise 17 children about age 11 get when playing systems like the Wii. Gregory Brown and his team found that Wii Boxing, Wii Tennis and Dance Dance Revolution burned two to three times as many calories as traditional hand-held games. Researcher Viki Penpraze conducted a similar study, comparing two active games to a hand-held game and simply watching a DVD. Participants included 13 children, all around age 10. During Dance Mat Mania and Eye-Toy Boxing, players simulate actual boxers. The study found the counts of total movements per minutes were more than four times those of the DVD and hand-held game activities. However, a third study from The Netherlands found that perhaps not all active games meet recommended oxygen consumption and energy expenditure. The research team studied six gaming systems: Dance Dance Revolution, Wii Tennis, Eye-Toy Beach Volleyball, Xerbike, Lasersquash and Apartgame. They found Wii Tennis and Eye-Toy Beach Volleyball did not achieve the level of energy output recommended for children by Dutch health and fitness experts.

Copyright 2008 by United Press International

Saturday, July 5, 2008


Ear Infections Linked To Tobacco Smoke
PERTH, Australia (UPI) -- Australian researchers say they have found a strong link between childhood ear infections and exposure to tobacco smoke. A study, published in the Medical Journal of Australia, found that middle-ear infections were diagnosed at least once in 74 percent of Aboriginal children and 45 percent of non-Aboriginal children. Sixty-four percent of Aboriginal children and 40 percent of non-Aboriginal children were exposed to environmental tobacco smoke. The impact of passive smoking in the home on ear infections was reduced if the children also attended day-care. The researchers said families of 100 Aboriginal children and 180 non-Aboriginal children participated in the study, which collected social, demographic, environmental and biological data to investigate the causes of middle-ear infections. The children had regular ear examinations from birth until age 2. If tobacco smoke exposure is eliminated, the researchers estimate ear infections in Aboriginal children would reduce 27 percent and 16 percent in non-Aboriginal children. The study leader, Dr Deborah Lehmann of the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research, said ear infections are the most common reason that young children see a doctor and can cause lifelong problems including hearing loss.

Copyright 2008 by United Press International

Friday, July 4, 2008


Your Health: New Research Suggests High-Fat Diets Are Bad for Your Brain
Rallie McAllister, M.D., M.P.H.
Eating too much junk food does more than just wreak havoc with your weight and your waistline. A growing body of research suggests that diets loaded with cholesterol and saturated fat are bad for your brain. In an article published in the June issue of the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, scientists at the Medical University of South Carolina and Arizona State University offered evidence supporting a strong link between diet and brain function. The researchers reported that middle-age laboratory rats consuming a diet rich in cholesterol and saturated fat for just eight weeks showed significant declines in working memory. Rats fed a high-fat diet were found to have detrimental inflammatory changes in their brains. The scientists concluded that this diet-induced inflammation might also contribute to the loss of hearing and eyesight that typically occurs with advancing age. Earlier research demonstrated that mice fed high-cholesterol diets had high levels of beta amyloid protein, a finding consistent with Alzheimer's disease. Beta amyloid protein is a sticky substance that accumulates in the brain and interferes with critical cognitive tasks, including thinking, learning and remembering. The results of the new study suggest that as we age, memory and other brain functions may be improved -- or at least maintained -- by lowering our intake of foods rich in cholesterol and saturated fats. As an added bonus, eating a low-fat diet can dramatically reduce the risk for other age-related afflictions, such as high blood pressure, type-2 diabetes and heart disease. Cholesterol and saturated fat are found primarily in animal products, including eggs, beef, pork, poultry and dairy foods. Saturated fats are also found in snack foods and fried foods prepared with coconut oil and palm kernel oil. According to the American Heart Association, intake of saturated fat should be limited to less than 7 percent of total daily calories. The organization recommends a daily intake of no more than 300 milligrams of cholesterol daily for good health. While you're cutting back on your intake of saturated fat and cholesterol, it's a good idea to rid your diet of foods rich in trans fats. Found in many snack foods, pastries and fast foods, trans fats can trigger inflammatory changes in the brain and body. Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats are considered to be beneficial fats. Both are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, substances known to help reduce inflammation. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in nuts and seeds, avocados and olive oil. They're especially abundant in fatty fish, including tuna, mackerel and salmon. When scientists at Tufts University evaluated the diets of nearly 900 men and women, they found that those whose diets were highest in fatty fish had a significantly lower risk of developing Alzheimer's disease. A study published in the medical journal Archives of Neurology demonstrated that individuals who consumed fish at least once weekly had a 60 percent lower risk of developing Alzheimer's disease compared with those who rarely or never ate fish. Eating more curried foods can also be good for your brain. Turmeric, an Asian spice used to flavor curry powders, has been shown to help boost brainpower and combat Alzheimer's disease. In a recent study of more than a thousand elderly adults, researchers evaluated performance on a standard test of cognitive function. Individuals who ate curry often, or even occasionally, scored significantly higher than those who rarely or never consumed the spice. If you're not a fan of fish or curried foods, adding more fresh produce to your diet is an excellent brain-boosting strategy. While most fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of disease-fighting antioxidants, recent research suggests that the antioxidants in blueberries, known as anthocyanins, are especially potent. In the brain and body, antioxidants neutralize free radicals -- highly reactive molecules that can injure cellular components, particularly the genetic material. Free radical-induced damage, known as oxidative damage, is implicated in memory loss and in the development of Alzheimer's disease. When researchers at the University of Reading in Pennsylvania and Peninsula Medical School in England fed blueberries to laboratory rats over a 12-week period, the rats exhibited an 83 percent improvement on tests of memory within just three weeks. Scientific evidence suggests that the anthocyanins in blueberries can help prevent or even reverse some age-related memory decline in humans, as well. Memory loss isn't an inevitable part of aging. Making a few simple changes in your diet can go a long way toward boosting your brainpower and improving your overall health. ======== 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.
Dating violence higher in NYC than nation
NEW YORK (UPI) -- A three-year study found 16 percent New York City teens reported experiencing sexual violence at some time in their lives, researchers said. Researchers were granted permission to enroll more than 1,300 New York City high school students from age 13 to 21 -- most were age 15 or 16 years -- anonymously with their parents' consent in the study. Researchers at the New York City Alliance Against Sexual Assault and Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health said New York teens report higher levels of sexual violence than the national average -- nationally, between 7 percent to 10.2 percent of teens ages 12 to 17 report some form of sexual assault. The study also said that 89 percent of those who have experienced sexual violence knew the person, 28 percent of those who reported having perpetrated sexual violence against their dating partner also reported having carried a weapon in the past month and 60 percent of youth who were physically violent with dates also reported having engaged in other physical fights. Almost 10 percent said that their partner touched them sexually when they didn't want to be touched and 6.7 percent said they were forced to have sex against their will, the study said.

Copyright 2008 by United Press International

Thursday, July 3, 2008


Boys, too, Suffer from Sexual Harassment
URBANA, Ill. (UPI) -- Girls are harassed more frequently, but boys are indirectly, yet negatively, affected via a school climate that tolerates harassment, a U.S. study said. Study leader Alayne J. Ormerod of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign surveyed 300 girls and 250 boys from seven public high schools in the Midwest. Ormerod examined the relationship among peer-to-peer sexual harassment, school climate, adult-to-student harassment and outcomes for the students. The study, published in the Psychology of Women Quarterly, found girls had more frequent, upsetting experiences of peer harassment and girls also reported more frequent and distressing harassment from school personnel than boys. Male students reported fewer, less upsetting experiences of harassment and had fewer stress-related consequences directly associated with harassment. However, the damaging effects of harassment extended beyond those directly harmed. For girls and boys, a school climate associated with experiences of sexual harassment was related to feeling unsafe while at school, withdrawal from school and feelings of lowered self-esteem, the study said. For boys, a climate tolerating the harassment of girls, was the major variable associated with negative psychological, health and educational outcomes, Ormerod said.

Copyright 2008 by United Press International

Wednesday, July 2, 2008


Kids Getting Lots of Cough and Cold Drugs
BOSTON (UPI) -- Despite reports of adverse effects, even death, a study found during any week at least one cough and cold medication is used by 10 percent of U.S. children. Lead author Dr. Louis Vernacchio of Boston University School of Medicine said exposures to cough and cold medications were found to be highest among children age 2 to 5, but was also high among children under 2 years of age. "Given concerns about potential harmful effects and lack of evidence proving that these medications are effective in young children, the fact that 1:10 U.S. children is using one of these medications is striking," Vernacchio said in a statement. The researchers analyzed data from 1999 to 2006 taken from the Slone Survey -- a national telephone survey of medication use in a representative sample of the U.S. population. The researchers considered all oral medicines that are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat children's coughs and colds. Among all the products used, 64.2 percent contained more than one active ingredient. The most commonly used product types were single-ingredient antihistamines, antihistamine/decongestant combinations and antihistamine/decongestant/anti-cough combinations. The findings were presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies & Asian Society for Pediatric Research Joint Meeting in Honolulu.

Copyright 2008 by United Press International

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


Apples May Prevent Hardening of Arteries
MONTPELIER, France (UPI) -- A study on hamsters found apples and apple juice have cardiovascular protective properties similar to those of purple grapes, French researchers said. Kelly Decorde of the University of Montpelier in France, part of the European research team, said processing the fruit into juice has the potential to increase the bioavailability of the naturally-occurring compounds and anti-oxidants found in the whole fruit. The study, published in Molecular Nutrition and Food Research, said aortic plaque was evaluated to determine the effectiveness in decreasing plaque that is associated with atherosclerosis -- or "hardening" of the arteries caused by multiple plaques within the arteries. "This study demonstrates that processing apples and purple grapes into juice modifies the protective effect of their phenolics against diet induced oxidative stress and early atherosclerosis in hypercholesterolemic hamsters," the researchers said in a statement. "These results show for the first time that long-term consumption of anti-oxidants supplied by apples and purple grapes, especially phenolic compounds, prevents the development of atherosclerosis in hamsters, and that the processing can have a major impact on the potential health effects of a product."

Copyright 2008 by United Press International