Vitamin D may Help to Prevent Fractures (March 3, 2003)
CAMBRIDGE, England (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Men and women age 65 and older can benefit from taking vitamin D supplements, finds a study in this weeks' British Medical Journal.

Researchers from the University of Cambridge School of Clinical Medicine evaluated more than 2,000 men and nearly 650 women 65 to 85 years old to determine if vitamin D could reduce their risk for factures. Participants were sent one capsule containing 100,000 IU of vitamin D3 or a placebo every four months. They received either the vitamin supplement or the placebo for five years (a total of 15 doses.) Researchers asked participants to take the capsule immediately upon receiving it and to complete a questionnaire of events such as a fracture or major illness.

Researchers found participants who received vitamin D supplements had a 22-percent reduction in first time fractures of any site and a 33-percent reduction for fractures occurring in an osteoporotic location. Locations prone to osteoporotic factures include the hip, wrist, forearm, and back.

Authors write, "Many interventions effective in high-risk groups are not feasible in the general population owing to poor compliance or side effects or are not cost-effective. In contrast, the cost of four monthly oral 100,000 IU vitamin D is minimal."

SOURCE: British Medical Journal, 2003;326:469-472

 

Father's Genes and Timing of Birth (March 3, 2003)
 AARHUS, Denmark (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- The timing of birth and the risk of a prolonged pregnancy may actually be affected by the father.

Pregnancy lasting 294 days or more is considered a prolonged pregnancy, and it occurs in about 5 percent of all births. It is also linked to an increased occurrence of obstetric complications and prenatal death. Researchers from the University of Aarhus in Denmark looked at a woman's risk of recurrent prolonged pregnancy. They evaluated women with a prolonged pregnancy in their first delivery and second delivery, and compared them to women with two or more pregnancies that were not prolonged.

Women in the prolonged pregnancy group all had a baby born post-term, considered 42 weeks or more, and a second live infant. The other group of women had a singleton born at term, 37 to 41 weeks, and a second live infant. In all there were more than 21,700 pairs of siblings in the prolonged pregnancy group and more than 7,000 pairs of siblings in the other group.

Researchers found the prolonged pregnancy group had an almost 20-percent increased risk of recurrence for prolonged pregnancy and post-term delivery. The risk also grew with each increase in gestational age, up to a 30-percent greater risk for a gestational age of 44 weeks. The other group only had a 7.7 percent risk for post-term delivery in the second birth.

However, researchers note the risk of recurrence was reduced by more than 15 percent when the children had different fathers. Women who had changed partners had a difference in pregnancy length by more than one week when compared with those who did not have different partners.

Researchers write, "Women had a reduced risk of recurrent post-term delivery if they changed partners between pregnancies. This result suggests that the timing of birth may, in part, be determined by paternal genes."

SOURCE: British Medical Journal, 2003;326:476

 

Screening for Emotional Distress (March 3, 2003)
 BOSTON (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- A short screening test can help determine which cancer survivors suffer from emotional distress, according to Dana-Farber Cancer Institute researchers.

Christopher Recklitis, Ph.D., M.P.H., of Dana-Farber, says, "When people who have been treated for cancer visit their doctor or a survivor clinic, there's a vast amount of material to cover: their physical health, emotional health, nutrition, the state of their relationships with their families, their work life." He continues, "To make the best use of patients' and caregivers' time, we found it helpful to have an advance idea of which patients are having emotional difficulties, so their needs can be addressed promptly." 

More than 100 adults who survived childhood cancer completed a psychological screening questionnaire while waiting for a doctor's appointment. The questionnaires were modified versions of typical psychological screening tests and most survivors finished the questionnaire in less than 30 minutes.

Researchers found 64 percent of those surveyed would be willing to help educate their clinicians to understand their emotional state, and almost 30 percent of those surveyed were found to be in significant psychological distress as indicated by their scores. The surveys also indicated there were three common risk factors associated with psychological distress; dissatisfaction with physical appearance, poor physical health, and previous head radiation treatment.

They conclude, based on the results of this survey, it is feasible to screen cancer patients for emotional distress in a clinical setting. The next stage of this work, say researchers, needs to look at a shorter screening test and should compare the results from the screening to those acquired in a structured interview.

SOURCE: To be published in an up coming issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology

 

Risk of Death in COPD Patients (March 3, 2003)
 
KYOTO, Japan (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is an incurable condition in which the lungs are able to take in less and less air over time. COPD is currently the fourth-leading cause of death in the world. How can doctors determine who is at the greatest risk of dying from COPD? A new study finds besides airflow limitation, exercise capacity and health status are significantly related to the risk of death from COPD.

Currently, doctors based the degree of severity of COPD on the airflow limitation in the patient. While doctors regard this as the most important predictor of mortality, researchers in Japan say the severity of COPD should not be evaluated based on one factor alone. Researchers conducted a study to determine if exercise capacity and health status are also related to mortality in patients with COPD.

The study included 144 men who had stable COPD. All were evaluated for their pulmonary function, health status, and exercise capability using a number of questionnaires. After five years, researchers say 31 of the men died. Researchers analyzed the aforementioned evaluations to see how they correlated with the death of these men.

Researchers say it is clear airflow limitation is a significant factor to predict mortality from COPD. However, they also found exercise capacity and health status had significant relationships to mortality independent of airflow limitation or age. Specifically, laboratory exercise capacity using the cycle test was the most significant predictor of mortality. Authors of the study say it is clear from this research that a multidimensional evaluation of disease severity in COPD patients is needed to determine the risk of mortality.

SOURCE: American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, 2003;167:544-549

 

Acupuncture Facelift (March 3, 2003)
SARASOTA, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- As baby boomers get older, many are looking for ways to get the look of a facelift without surgery. In the past decade, the number of people undergoing cosmetic plastic surgery has more than tripled. However, there may be another way to make your face look younger.

Look closely at the woman's face on the left. On the right is the same woman today. She didn't go under the knife to change her appearance. Neither did the women whose skin looks smoother, nor the women whose laugh lines have disappeared.

Instead, they turned to acupuncture physician Anna Baker, a doctor of oriental medicine in Sarasota, Fla.

"There are actually 57 muscles in the face and they are all connected to each other. So when one goes down they all start to go down, together," Baker tells Ivanhoe.

She says acupuncture can re-tighten the face muscles.

Forty-three-year-old Emily Leinfuss originally tried acupuncture to relieve pre-menopausal symptoms. Then she wondered if an acupuncture facelift might help her look. She says, "I had seen some of the pictures of women who had gotten facelifts. I thought, wow! You know, if you look good, you feel better. So I tried it."

Each of Baker's session lasts 25 minutes and costs $70. Patients usually have about 25 sessions.

As Baker places five needles into Leinfuss' head, the truth is there is no pain, according to Baker. She says, "They do not hurt. The needles are the size of a human hair."

This is how Leinfuss looked before acupuncture. See the difference after 20 treatments. She says, "Certainly everything has lifted, like a smile rather than a frown is more natural. Maybe it creates an illusion for me that I'm just naturally growing younger."

Baker says the acupuncture facelift lasts as long as a surgical facelift. However, unlike surgery, this treatment can be renewed with a couple of treatments every 12 to 18 months to reverse additional aging.

If you would like more information, please contact:

Anna Baker
Acupuncture Physician
Doctor of Oriental Medicine
7122 Mandarin Road
Sarasota, FL 34238
(941) 924-2723
annabaker@advcom1.com

 

Osteoporosis Mat (Feb 28, 2003)
 FARMINGTON, Conn. (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- A healthy diet, exercise and medication are typically what doctors prescribe for the more than 10 million women and men who suffer from osteoporosis in this country. Now, what you sleep on may also help prevent bone loss.

Inside this thin mat are 200 layers of aluminum and polyester, materials that may hold the key to treating and preventing osteoporosis.

Geriatrician Karen Prestwood, M.D., says, "When a person lies on the mat, the layers of material rub together and create this very low level electrical field."

Researchers from the Center on Aging at the University of Connecticut in Farmington believe that electrical field builds bone density and stimulates calcium growth when patients sleep the mat.

"The mat can act as a capacitor so that when a person lies on it, this energy is emitted and it is thought it may affect bones," says Dr. Prestwood.

Half of the 70 women in the study sleep on the electromagnetic mat and half on a placebo mat. Agnes Perrault is a volunteer. She doesn't have osteoporosis yet, and hopes to keep it that way.

"I really am into preventative medicine, or whatever. I would rather do something now than have some sort of condition," Perrault tells Ivanhoe.

Bone activity is monitored through changes in blood and urine, which are taken every six weeks.

Dr. Prestwood says, "The implications are huge because this would be a simple, noninvasive, inexpensive way to treat osteoporosis."

The study is also looking at whether or not sleeping on the mat can boost the immune system.

If you would like more information, please contact:

Jane Shaskan
Office of Communications
University of Connecticut Health Center
(860) 679-4777
shaskan@nso.uchc.edu

 

Premature Heartbeat, Exercise and Death (Feb 27, 2003)
CLEVELAND (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Studies have indicated a premature heartbeat called a ventricular ectopy caused by exercise increases the risk of death. But a new study shows a frequent ventricular ectopy during recovery after exercise is a better predictor of an increased risk of death than one during exercise.

Doctors consider frequent ventricular ectopy seven or more premature beats of the heart per minute. For the study, doctors from Cleveland Clinic Foundation observed 29,244 patients who were referred for an exercise test. The patients did not have a history of heart failure, valve disease or arrhythmia. Researchers looked to see if frequent ventricular ectopy occurred and when it occurred. They also followed the patients' status for more than five years.

The study reports frequent ventricular ectopy occurred during exercise only in 3 percent of the patients. They also found premature heartbeats happened during the recovery after exercise in 2 percent of the patients. Researchers say another 2 percent of the patients had frequent ventricular ectopy both during exercise and during the recovery. They also report over the five years, 1,862 of the patients died.

Researchers report frequent ventricular ectopy during exercise causes a 9-percent increase in the risk of death vs. a 5-percent risk among those patients without the premature heartbeat. However, frequent ventricular ectopy during recovery appears to have a greater risk of death at 11 percent. Researchers say, therefore, frequent ventricular ectopy during recovery is a stronger predictor of death than when it happens during exercise. Furthermore after adjusting for other variables, frequent ventricular ectopy during recovery still predicted an increased risk of death but that was not true for when it happened during exercise.

Researchers conclude frequent ventricular ectopy during recovery after exercise is a better predictor of an increased risk of death than ventricular ectopy that occurs only during exercise.

SOURCE: The New England Journal of Medicine, 2003;348:781-790

 

Help for Diabetic Nerve Damage (Feb. 26, 2003)
 SAN DIEGO (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Proteins that are essential for normal nervous system development may have therapeutic potential for the treatment of diabetic neuropathy.

Diabetes has reached epidemic proportions in the Western world. In the United States, about 17 million individuals have diabetes, which is more than 6 percent of the population. More than half of all patients with diabetes will develop neuropathy. Neuropathy is the deterioration of nerves in the body. A diabetic patient with neuropathy has a 15 percent chance of undergoing one or more amputations.

Researchers at the University of California at San Diego say new research shows a connection between the sonic hedgehog protein, a human protein named after a video-game character, and diabetic neuropathy.

Researchers say the hedgehog pathway may play a role in the maturing of the nervous system. They found treating diabetic rats with sonic hedgehog protein fully restored their motor and sensory nerves. This indicates a connection between diabetic neuropathy and hedgehog proteins. Researchers say there could be a future therapeutic potential with these proteins for humans.

In an accompanying commentary, Eva Feldman, a researcher from the University of Michigan says, while purely speculative at this point, it appears from this research that restoration of hedgehog activity could be beneficial to those diabetics with neuropathy. She says the key may be a combination therapy. Specifically, Feldman suggests this hedgehog protein therapy coupled with additional antioxidant therapy could provide the first effective treatment for diabetic neuropathy.

SOURCE: Journal of Clinical Investigation, 2003;111:507-511;431-433

 

Risk for Diabetic Women Using Hormone Replacements (Feb 24, 2003)
 HVIDOVRE, Denmark (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Women with diabetes who use hormone replacement therapy may be at an increased risk of death from heart disease.

Researchers in Denmark examined the association between HRT and ischemic heart disease, heart attack and death among 13,084 postmenopausal women. They found an increased risk of death from all causes and ischemic heart disease in diabetic women on HRT compared to diabetic women who never used HRT. Researchers say the cause of HRT's harmful effects among diabetic women is unknown, but could be explained by an influence on blood sugar control.

Researchers also found, contrary to previous studies, HRT did not protect women against heart disease or heart attack. Women who use or have used HRT had a slightly increased risk of ischemic heart disease compared to women who never used HRT. Research shows heart disease usually strikes women after menopause when they no longer produce estrogen. Other research has suggested estrogen protects the heart and giving estrogen replacement to postmenopausal women could extend this natural protection, and women on HRT tend to have healthier lifestyles overall.

Millions of menopausal and postmenopausal women take hormone replacement therapy. It is currently the most effective treatment for the symptoms of menopause, and has also been widely prescribed for protection against heart disease and osteoporosis. However, studies also link HRT to an increased risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, blood clots, and gallbladder disease.

SOURCE: British Medical Journal, 2003;326:426-428

 

Blood Pressure Associated with Dementia (February 24, 2003)
STOCKHOLM, Sweden (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- A new study suggests a person's blood pressure could be a warning of pending dementia.

Previous studies have connected high blood pressure and low blood pressure with an increased risk of Alzheimer's disease or dementia. A new study examines whether this association exists in the elderly population. The study looks at both the systolic and diastolic numbers of a person's blood pressure.

Researchers from the Aging Research Center in Stockholm, Sweden, conducted the study. The trial included 1,270 participants between ages 75 and 101. All participants were free of dementia at the beginning of the study. The seniors were examined twice during a six-year period to detect the incident of dementia, and their blood pressure was taken.

The study found during the six-year period, 339 of the participants were diagnosed with dementia, including 256 who were diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. Researchers report the participants with a high systolic pressure, over 180, were at an increased risk for developing dementia or Alzheimer's disease. They also report those with a diastolic pressure of less than 65 were also at an increased risk of Alzheimer's disease and dementia. However, low systolic pressure and high diastolic pressure were not associated with an increase in dementia.

Researchers say the closing of arteries may explain the association between blood pressures and dementia. They point out low diastolic blood pressure and increased risk was seen particularly in participants who were on antihypertensive drugs. They say further studies are needed to see if the drugs play a role in this association.

SOURCE: Archives of Neurology, 2003;60:223-228

 

Metabolic Syndrome (February 24, 2003)
CELEBRATION, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- As many Americans know, obesity is on the rise in this country. According to the National Institutes of Health, more than half of adults in the United States are overweight, and nearly 25 percent are obese. As a result, heart disease and diabetes are also on the rise. Five factors increase your risk for both diseases. Combined, they're called metabolic syndrome.

With every step, Allan Martin fights off disease. He tells Ivanhoe, "My doctor had already warned me about the problems with obesity, and my family history of heart disease, and the combination would eventually be lethal."

Martin was told he had metabolic syndrome. Five risk factors make up the disease -- large waist size, high triglycerides, low HDL, high blood pressure, and high glucose level.

Registered dietician Tara Geise, M.S., R.D., says metabolic syndrome puts you at risk for coronary heart disease and diabetes.

"If you just have three of the five risk factors, then you actually can be diagnosed as having the metabolic risk syndrome," Geise, of the Rippe Health Assessment Center at Florida Hospital in Celebration, Fla., tells Ivanhoe.

Martin took part in a study to see if a guided fitness program could reverse his diagnosis. He works out four to five times a week and instead of eating a late dinner at 10, he eats before seven. After 16 weeks, participants lost an average of 10 to 12 pounds.

Geise says, "We found that people's glucoses dropped significantly, their blood pressures dropped, and their triglycerides really dropped quickly."

Martin reversed his disease and works hard to keep off the 50 pounds he lost. He says, "My wife is very proud of me and says that I'm back down to my dating weight, so that makes me real happy."

Geise says about 23 percent of the population has metabolic syndrome. Medical professionals hope by attacking the syndrome, they can reduce the number of people developing heart disease and diabetes.

If you would like more information, please contact:

Tara Geise, M.S., R.D.
Rippe Health Assessment Center
Florida Hospital at Celebration Health
400 Celebration Place
Celebration, FL 34747
(407) 303-4246
tara.geise@flhosp.org

 

Dietary Fat and Alzheimer Disease (February 24, 2003)
CHICAGO (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- A new study gives another glimpse into how our diets can have an impact on the risk of certain diseases. The study finds eating saturated and trans-unsaturated fats may increase a person's risk for Alzheimer's disease. On the other hand, the study also reports a high intake of unsaturated, unhydrogenated fats may be protective against Alzheimer's disease.

Saturated and trans-unsaturated fats are those found in meats, full-fat dairy products, and some oils. Unhydrogenated and unsaturated fats are found in olive oil, canola oil and a variety of nuts.

The study included 815 community residents 65 and older. All of the participants were healthy and not affected by Alzheimer's disease. The seniors completed a food-frequency questionnaire two years before they were evaluated. Researchers from Rush-Presbyterian St. Luke's Medical Center in Chicago then compared their dietary fat intakes with those who were later diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.

Researchers report after almost four years, 131 of the participants had developed Alzheimer's disease. Researchers found an increased level of saturated fat and trans-unsaturated fats were associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer's disease. Specifically, those who were in the upper fifth of saturated fat intake had more than twice the risk of Alzheimer's disease compared with those in the lower fifth of that group. But researchers also found a positive relationship between a high intake of unsaturated, unhydrogenated fats and Alzheimer's disease. Finally, researchers say total fat intake, animal fat and cholesterol were not associated with the risk of Alzheimer's disease.

Authors of the study comment that their results along with a previous study provides promising evidence that diets high in unsaturated, unhydrogenated fats, and low in saturated and trans-unsaturated fats may protect against this disease. However, they caution a definitive association can only be determined after larger studies are completed.

SOURCE: Archives of Neurology, 2003;60:194-200

 

Risk for Diabetic Women Using Hormone Replacements (February 24, 2003)
 HVIDOVRE, Denmark (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Women with diabetes who use hormone replacement therapy may be at an increased risk of death from heart disease.

Researchers in Denmark examined the association between HRT and ischemic heart disease, heart attack and death among 13,084 postmenopausal women. They found an increased risk of death from all causes and ischemic heart disease in diabetic women on HRT compared to diabetic women who never used HRT. Researchers say the cause of HRT's harmful effects among diabetic women is unknown, but could be explained by an influence on blood sugar control.

Researchers also found, contrary to previous studies, HRT did not protect women against heart disease or heart attack. Women who use or have used HRT had a slightly increased risk of ischemic heart disease compared to women who never used HRT. Research shows heart disease usually strikes women after menopause when they no longer produce estrogen. Other research has suggested estrogen protects the heart and giving estrogen replacement to postmenopausal women could extend this natural protection, and women on HRT tend to have healthier lifestyles overall.

Millions of menopausal and postmenopausal women take hormone replacement therapy. It is currently the most effective treatment for the symptoms of menopause, and has also been widely prescribed for protection against heart disease and osteoporosis. However, studies also link HRT to an increased risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, blood clots, and gallbladder disease.
SOURCE: British Medical Journal, 2003;326:426-428

 

Miscarriages Linked to Heart Disease in Mother (February 21, 2003)
 CAMBRIDGE, England (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- For the first time, researchers in England say they have found a link between miscarriage and the risk of heart disease in later life.

Previous research showed complications late in pregnancy are associated with an increased risk of heart disease later in life. Researchers have not known whether miscarriage is also associated with heart disease in the mother later in life.

Researchers analyzed national data on births in Scotland over four years. They also looked at the deaths or hospital admissions due to ischemic heart disease between 1981 and 1999. Researchers report a history of any miscarriage before the birth of a first child was associated with an increased risk of heart disease. This association remained even after researchers adjusted for age at the time of the first birth, height, socioeconomic status, hypertension and complications during the first pregnancy. Researchers also say there was no connection between an elective abortion and subsequent heart disease later in life in the mother.

Researchers say while their study findings are interesting, further studies are needed to corroborate this information. They add they did not have information on the smoking status of the women, so future studies are needed to confirm the association is independent of smoking and other factors such as maternal diseases like diabetes.

SOURCE: British Medical Journal, 2003;326:423-424

 

How Hard are you Exercising? (February 19, 2003)
 BOSTON (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- If you think you're exercising hard enough, you're probably right. A new study shows people shouldn't focus so much on meeting a specific goal set by their doctor or a national organization, but should instead examine how hard they are working out. Doctors say the new study shows the intensity of exercise needed to reduce the risk of heart disease depends on the individual and their fitness level.

Current medical recommendations recommend at least moderate-intensity physical activity for more than 30 minutes nearly every day, to reduce the risk of heart disease. Although it is well known that exercise reduces the risk of heart disease, it is not well documented concerning the how intense that exercise needs to be. Thus, the doctors in this study say it is more important to focus on the individual's fitness level when telling them how hard to exercise.

Researchers from Harvard and several other medical centers followed 7,337 men. At the beginning of the study, the men reported their perceived level of exercise intensity. During the next seven years 551 men developed cardiovascular heart disease. Researchers say the relative risk of heart disease among men who perceived their exercise level as moderate was 14-percent lower than those who rated their exercise level as "weak" or less intense. Men who thought their level was "somewhat strong" had a 31-percent lower risk.

Researchers point out that recommendations for "moderate" intensity exercise need to match the fitness level of the individual.

SOURCE: To be published in an upcoming issue of Circulation

 

Rheumatoid arthritis may boost women's heart risk (February 18, 2003)
Feb 18 - Women with rheumatoid arthritis are more likely to have a heart attack than those without the chronic condition, according to a new analysis of findings from a large, long-running study. 

Women with the disease, caused by a misguided immune system attack on the body's joint tissue, were twice as likely to have a heart attack, researchers from Harvard Medical School found. And those with rheumatoid arthritis for more than 10 years had triple the heart attack risk of women without the immune system disorder.

The Nurses' Health Study, which began in 1976, includes 114,342 women. Five- hundred and twenty-seven of the participants developed rheumatoid arthritis during the course of the study, while 3,622 had heart attacks.

While previous studies have documented a connection between rheumatoid arthritis and heart disease, this study is the largest to date and the first study to look at healthy people, rather than severely ill patients. The findings are published in Monday's rapid access issue of Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

"The association between inflammation and heart disease is strengthened with the findings of this study," said Dr. Daniel Solomon, a rheumatologist at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston and one of the study's authors. "The results really suggest there is indeed increased risk for heart attack."

Rheumatoid arthritis is characterized by inflammation of the lining of joints and internal organs, leading to swelling, pain, stiffness, and the possible loss of function.

Although much has been learned about the process leading to rheumatoid arthritis, researchers have yet to discover why it might lead to heart problems. According to the researchers, the link between rheumatoid arthritis and cardiovascular disease may stem from "the inflammatory underpinnings of atherosclerosis," or clogging of arteries.

The researchers also found the women with rheumatoid arthritis were older, smoked slightly more, exercised less and were more likely to have a parent who suffered a heart attack before age 60 than those without the disease. However, Solomon noted, those genetic and lifestyle differences did not affect the results of the study, which, he said, establishes rheumatoid arthritis as an important marker for increased heart attack risk.

"Even after we adjusted for those factors, we still found a two-fold increased risk of heart attacks compared with women without rheumatoid arthritis," he said. "So, that's why this is so important."

Solomon said the findings demonstrate a need for patients with rheumatoid arthritis and doctors to identify, manage and prevent risk factors for heart problems.

"Patients should be aware they may be at increased risk for cardiovascular disease and specifically heart attacks," while doctors should test for and "meticulously control" risk factors, Solomon said.

SOURCE: Circulation 2003;107.

 

Devices Improve Health of Stroke Patients (February 17, 2003)
 
By Shanida Smith, Ivanhoe Health Correspondent
PHOENIX (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- A combination of two medical devices may improve the respiratory health of hospitalized stroke patients.

Many strokes affect swallowing and breathing functions to the point they interfere with the ability to clear normal lung secretions. This can lead to pneumonia or collapsed air sacs in the lungs.

Researchers from the University of Alabama Medical Center at Birmingham tested a combination of a vibrating vest and a mechanical cough-assist device on 10 stroke patients between ages 21 and 85. The air-filled vest vibrates at a high frequency, which loosens secretions lodged in the lungs and creates a friction between the air and mucus. This helps move secretions from the lower lungs to the upper airways.

Next, researchers applied the cough-assist device. It has a mask that fits over the patient's face and a mechanism that pushes air into the lungs. The device then rapidly sucks the air out, bringing mucus along with it. Both treatments last five to 10 minutes. Each patient received the treatment for at least three days. Treatment continued until it was no longer needed or the patient was discharged from the hospital.

Results of the study show the treatment increased the amount of air inhaled in one minute from 7.31 liters to 8 liters on average, and the amount of air breathed in and forced out of the lungs from .60 liters to .69 liters on average. The treatment also increased oxygen in the blood from 97.9 percent to 98.2 percent.

Lead investigator J. David Rhodes, R.N., B.S.N., tells Ivanhoe the devices have been approved by the FDA for several years but have not been widely used. He says, "I just think no one has thought about using this. We desperately need improvements in pulmonary care."

Rhodes presented the findings from his investigation at the American Stroke Association's 28th International Stroke Conference in Phoenix last week.

SOURCE: American Stroke Association's 28th International Stroke Conference, Phoenix, Feb. 13-15, 2003

 

Kids Lack Exercise (February 17, 2003)
 SAN DIEGO (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- A new study shows children are not getting nearly enough exercise, making them fall short of the national guidelines. Physical exercise is a top issue for pediatricians these days because of the increase in obesity in young children. Obesity and type 1 diabetes are on the rise, and both lead to chronic health problems in adulthood.

Currently, national guidelines recommend pre-adolescent children should get at least one hour of physical activity each day. The Healthy People 2010 initiative suggests PE time be offered daily and should involve kids in moderate to vigorous activity for at least 50 percent of the class time. Little is known, though, about how often that is achieved.

Researchers from 10 medical centers around the United States studied third graders and their PE activity at 684 schools. The researchers found only 5.9 percent of the children took part in PE five times a week. Children averaged about two PE lessons per week and they totaled only 68.7 minutes for the week. Additionally, they averaged only about five minutes of vigorous activity.

"The results of our study show that PE in school is falling short in meeting Healthy People 2010 goals for PE in both frequency and activity intensity," write the authors. They say there were major variations between school system PE requirements, teacher participation, and lesson plans. The authors suggest more standardized requirements and more staff development is needed.

SOURCE: Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, 2003;157:185-190

 

Going Organic (February 17, 2003)
PORTLAND, Ore. (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- New federal guidelines may mean more organic choices at the grocery store. But if you're not used to buying organic, you may need help. Here is some expert advice for your next shopping trip.

Reading food labels is part of Greg Parks' job. "On this side of the panel is the certification agent and a list of the ingredients," he tells Ivanhoe.

Parks reviews companies that sell organic foods. To carry that label, the food must be processed without hormones, pesticides, or radiation to kill germs. Fruits and vegetables must be grown without genetically modified seeds.

"If you want to label your product organic, it's got to be at least 95 percent organic ingredients," says Parks, who is a processing program manager at Oregon Tilth, Inc., in Portland.

If the label says a product is 100-percent organic, that means all of the ingredients, minus salt and water, are produced organically.

The organic industry has grown by 20 percent to 25 percent each year for the last seven years, offering dairy, meat and bread products -- soups, juices, coffee, even chocolate and root beer.

It may be more expensive, but consumers say it's worth the money.

Organic shopper Betsy Haindl says, "We have a new daughter, and a lot of it is just trying to keep away from the antibiotics and the hormones, and a lot of the additives and pesticides. And it's better for the planet."

"The produce is much better, especially things like apples," says Rebeka Palmer, who is also an organic shopper.

Parks says as demand increases, prices will come down, and the generation raised on organic foods will have even more choices.

Some of the ingredients you won't find in organic foods include artificial colors and flavors, certain preservatives like sodium nitrites found in hot dogs and bacon, and propylene glycol used in foods to maintain moisture or flavor. Organic food can still harbor bacteria like E. coli and salmonella, so it's important to wash fruits and veggies, and cook meat thoroughly.

If you would like more information, please contact:

Greg Parks, R.S.
Processing Program Manager
Oregon Tilth, Inc.
470 Lancaster Dr. NE
Salem, OR 97301
(503) 378-0690
greg@tilth.org
http://www.tilth.org

 

Cancer Drug for Vision (February 14, 2003)
 
CHICAGO (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Uveitis can be a frightening condition. One day you can see fine, the next your vision is nearly gone. The inflammatory condition can come on overnight and treatment often means steroids, which come with a host of side effects. Now, a new treatment brings the world back into focus for these patients.

Vicky Garza's world changed overnight. She says, "I would see just shady in my left eye, it's like looking through a fog, almost like a haze."

Garza has uveitis, an inflammation of the eye that can come on suddenly with drastic effects. "There were times I would grab someone else's child thinking it was mine." She tried eye drops, injections, even steroids. Her vision got worse. Then doctor ophthalmologist Debra A. Goldstein, M.D., gave her a drug that's showing success.

According to Dr. Goldstein, of the University of Illinois Medical Center in Chicago, the drug chlorambucil (Leukeran) can be taking someone from legal blindness to functional vision to the point that they can have a normal life and do their job. It is a cancer drug that works on the immune system to reduce inflammation. Long-term use can actually cause cancer, but Dr. Goldstein uses it a different way.

"What we found was that with a short-term, high-dose treatment, we were able to put patients into long-term remission," she says.

On average, patients went from only being able to see the image on the left to reading 20/70.
And it lasted.

Dr. Goldstein says, "We've got follow-up, an average of about four years, but up to 25 years, patients staying in remission, off all medications."

Garza is still on the drug. She says, "I'm just hoping that I go into remission because I intend to get on with my life," because this mother of two has plenty she needs to see.

None of the patients in the study developed cancer, but Dr. Goldstein notes it does have a serious side effect in that it can cause sterility or cause women close to menopause to go into early menopause. In the future, she says chlorambucil may also show success in treating other inflammatory conditions like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.

If you would like more information, please contact:

Nan Hoffman
University of Illinois at Chicago
Public Affairs
(312) 355-2954
nanhoff@uic.edu

 

Osteoporosis a risk for fragile X gene carriers (February 14, 2003)
 
Women who carry a partial mutation in a gene linked to an inherited form of mental retardation do not--as has been suspected--have an increased risk of heart disease and several other diseases, results of a new study suggest. 

But these women, who tend to begin menopause at an early age, are more likely than other women to develop the brittle-bone disease osteoporosis. 

Fragile X syndrome is a hereditary type of mental retardation caused by mutations in a gene called FMR-1. Some people, however, have only a partial mutation in the gene. People with one of these so-called premutations were thought to be perfectly healthy, but now it is known that woman with a fragile X premutation often begin menopause before age 40. 

Since levels of the heart-protective hormone estrogen plummet during menopause, researchers have worried that women with fragile X premutations may be at increased risk of heart disease and, perhaps, other diseases. 

That does not seem to be the case, a team led by Dr. D. D. M. Braat, of the University Medical Center Nijmegen in The Netherlands, reports in the American Journal of Medical Genetics. 

In a study of 152 women with partial mutations and 112 who had either a complete mutation or none at all, having a partial mutation did not increase the risk of cardiovascular disease or autoimmune diseases. 

However, several women with partial mutations, but none of the other women, developed osteoporosis. All these women had started menopause before turning 45, so the researchers suspect that their brittle bones are due to a drop in estrogen levels and are not a direct result of the partial mutation. 

The results of the study are "important" for the counseling of women with premutations, according to Braat's team. Since women with premutations tend to begin menopause early, boosting the risk of osteoporosis, they may want to consider treatments that prevent bone-thinning, the investigators state. 

An estimated 1 in 700 men and 1 in 250 women carry a partial form of the fragile X mutation. Fragile X syndrome is the leading cause of inherited mental retardation, and affects approximately 50,000 people in the US.

SOURCE: American Journal of Medical Genetics 2003;117A:6- 9

 

Diet Linked to Colon Cancer (February 13, 2003)
BOSTON (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- A new study shows a strong link between eating habits and the risk of colon cancer. Doctors have long suspected a strong connection between the two and study after study has confirmed it. Now, researchers from several medical centers report the traditional Western diet increases the risk of colon cancer.

The study examined the dietary patterns of nearly 80,000 women 38 to 63 years old. It began in 1984 and none of the women had cancer. Researchers checked in on the women and their habits again in 1986, 1990 and 1994. Two types of diets were compared -- the Western diet and the prudent diet. Western diets include higher amounts of red meats, processed meats, sweets and desserts, fried foods and refined grains. The prudent diet is based heavily on fruits, vegetables, legumes, fish, poultry and whole grains.

During the 12-year follow-up, 445 cases of colon cancer were identified and 101 cases of rectal cancer diagnosed. The researchers say they found a significant association between the Western dietary pattern and the risk of colon cancer. They write, "As expected, women with prudent diets tended to smoke less, exercise more and use multivitamins."

There are still many unanswered questions surrounding this study. Earlier studies have found a positive association between red meats and colon or rectal cancer. Also, other studies have linked processed meats to increased colon cancer risk. More research is underway to further understand which specific foods contribute to the cancer risk.

SOURCE: Archives of Internal Medicine, 2003;163:309-31411

 

Traveler's Diarrhea and Cancer (February 13, 2003)
PHILADELPHIA (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- A new study shows the very toxin that causes traveler's diarrhea may also protect against colorectal cancer. Researchers say the bacterial toxin, which causes intestinal Escherichia coli infections, slows down the replication of cancer cells in the lab.

Colorectal cancer occurs more often in industrialized countries than in developing countries. Interestingly, researchers note, traveler's diarrhea occurs more often in developing countries. Researchers from Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia broke down the connection and studied the effects of an enterotoxin produced by E. coli on colon cancer cells. The study shows the growth of the cancer cells slowed down.

Researchers determined that the toxin works on two peptides, guanylin and uroguanylin. These peptides control the growth of colon cancer cells. The researchers say the cells exposed to the toxin had longer cell cycles, meaning they divided much more slowly than regular cancer cells.

This research is early and will continue to be studied for further understanding. It is not yet known how the toxin would react inside a person with colon cancer.

Colon cancer is the fourth-leading cause of cancer-related deaths worldwide. In the United States, there will be another 105,500 cases diagnosed this year.

SOURCE: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2002; published in online edition.

 

Mammogram Accuracy (February 13, 2003)
 
LEBANON, N.H. (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- A new study examines some of the factors that play into inaccurate mammograms and finds age and breast density play significant roles. Research shows the risk for breast cancer is four- to six-times higher in women with dense breasts and breast density decreases the accuracy of a mammogram. The density can mask tumors on the image.

Breast density is affected by age, use of hormone replacement therapy, body mass index, and family history. This is the first study of its kind to see how they affect the accuracy of mammograms. Researchers studied more than 300,000 women who had nearly 500,000 screening mammograms. They detected 2,223 cases of breast cancer.

For women with fatty breast tissue, the sensitivity of mammograms was 87 percent. For women with extremely dense breasts, the sensitivity of mammography was 62.9 percent. The authors write, "The accuracy of screening mammography is best in older women and in women with fatty breasts."

It appears hormone replacement therapy was not an independent risk factor that affects mammography, however it does affect the density of the breast. Studies show women who take HRT have higher rates of additional imaging to screen out any possible problems. The doctors recommend a woman have a baseline mammogram done before starting HRT.

Researchers write, "Overall, women with dense breasts, regardless of whether they use HRT, should be informed that mammography will be less likely to detect breast cancer." They should be prepared to have further imaging done.

SOURCE: Annals of Internal Medicine, 2003;138:168-175

 

One in 13 deaths in Europe due to excess weight (February 13, 2003)
More than 7% of deaths in the European Union can be attributed to overweight and obesity, according to calculations by Spanish researchers.

Dr. Jose Ramon Banegas and colleagues from Universidad Autónoma de Madrid used data on the prevalence of overweight and obesity in the 15 EU nations to calculate the proportion of total deaths caused by carrying excess fat.

They estimated the risks associated with being overweight using data from two US cancer prevention studies that followed 1.2 million men and women for 12 to 14 years. They also performed calculations to account for the effect of smoking and pre-existing illness.

"Mortality attributable to excess weight is a major public health problem in the EU. At least one in 13 annual deaths in the EU are likely to be related to excess weight," they conclude in the February issue of the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

In their government-funded study, the researchers report that a minimum of 279,000 annual deaths could be attributed to excess weight, and the number could be as high as 304,000.

About 70% of these were due to cardiovascular disease and 20% to cancer. Other diseases such as type 2 diabetes may also contribute excess weight- related deaths, Banegas said.

Overall, the weight- related fatalities account for 7.7% of all deaths, they said. National rates varied from a low of 5.8% in France to 8.7% for the UK.

"Our estimates are approximate and likely to be conservative," Banegas told Reuters Health.

"It is important to remain conservative--that is, biased towards underestimation--when estimating attributable mortality, to avoid the danger of exaggerating."

Using the lower estimate of 279,000 deaths, the researchers attributed about 175,000 to obesity, defined as a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more. Overweight people--with BMIs between 25 and 30--accounted for 104,000 deaths.

BMI is a measure of weight in relation to height calculated by dividing a person's weight in kilograms by their height in metres squared.

According to a World Health Organisation report last year, more than one billion people were overweight worldwide, of whom 300 million were clinically obese. The UN health organisation said that at least 500,000 of these people die each year.


SOURCE: European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2003;57:201- 208.

 

Understanding Embryo Implantation (February 11, 2003)
 
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Researchers say one of the most vexing causes of infertility is the failure of the embryo to implant in the uterus.

Vanderbilt University investigators may have new insight into this problem that lies in small changes in estrogen levels. Their study in mice shows even slight changes were effective in closing the door to embryo implantation in the uterus.

The researchers note in vitro fertilization rates remain low, despite the fact that doctors are usually able to transfer healthy embryos into a woman's uterus. In an attempt to understand the high rate of failure, they removed the ovaries of female mice after copulation to stop normal production of estrogen and progesterone, two hormones important to fertilization. Then, they injected the mice with different amounts of estrogen and progesterone to see how levels would impact the ability of embryos to attach to the uterus.

Results showed no effect for progesterone, but even tiny changes in estrogen amounts made a big difference. When mice were given 3 nanograms, implantation was possible. But at 10 nanograms, implantation failed.

The implications for women undergoing in vitro fertilization aren't clear, but the scientists believe one reason why implantation often fails may be because estrogen levels rise in response to the hyperstimulation of the ovary necessary to extract eggs for the fertilization process.

While much more study will be needed before these findings can be applied to humans, researchers believe "the information obtained from the present investigation in mice should provide valuable information for improving the implantation rates of the IVF-derived embryos in women."

SOURCE: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2003; published in online edition

 

Fighting Fat One Step at a Time (February 10, 2003)
 
DENVER (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Forget about losing 50 pounds, suggest researchers publishing in this month's Science. The first step in combating the growing obesity problem in the United States may be to simply quit gaining weight.

Obesity is generally defined as having a body mass index of 30 or more. More than 300 million people worldwide fall into this category, and many of them are in the United States. A national nutrition survey finds the prevalence of obesity grew from 23 percent to 31 percent between 1988 and 1994. This rate of gain loosely translates to an extra 1.8 to 2 pounds per person per year.

It may sound like much, but the authors of the study note if we continue at this rate, 39 percent of Americans will be obese by 2008. The health consequences, they say, will be huge. Obesity significantly increases the risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and some cancers.

Their study set out to see how we can keep from putting on those additional pounds. The investigators analyzed data from two major studies on weight to come up with the number of calories people would have to forego each day to maintain their current weight. Results suggest just 100 per day would do the trick.

"We all know you've got to eat less and exercise more, but, well, how much?" asks study author James Hill. "That's what we've laid out."

What would we have to give up to meet the 100-calorie goal? The study finds pushing away from the last three bites of a fast food hamburger or giving up that one extra cookie would be enough. Or, we could try working off those extra calories by walking an extra mile a day, altogether or in bits and pieces.

Stemming the increase in obesity in America should be our top priority in the battle of the bulge, notes the study. "We believe this goal can be accomplished with small behavior changes that fit relatively easily into most peoples' lifestyles," write the authors.

SOURCE: Science, 2003;299:835-855

Help for the Heart (February 10, 2003)
 
By Stacie Overton, Ivanhoe Health Correspondent
BALTIMORE (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Researchers may have found a new way to help patients with heart failure. Stephen Gottlieb, M.D., from the University of Maryland, says the calcium-sensitizing agent levosimendan may offer new hope to patients with severe heart failure.

Calcium is essential to heart's ability to contract and overall heart function. Levosimendan is a calcium sensitizer that can improve and increase the contractility of the heart. It increases the cells' ability to respond to calcium, without increasing the amount of calcium. Other drugs increase contractility by increasing the amount of calcium. In an interview with Ivanhoe, Dr. Gottlieb says, "If you get more calcium, you get more contraction, but there are potential downsides." One side effect is arrhythmia, or irregular heartbeat.

Dr. Gottlieb says this drug is completely different from anything on the market currently. Researchers are studying the drug's effect when it is given intravenously in a 24-hour continuous dose to patients with severe heart failure who are short of breath at rest. A previous study in Europe, called the LIDO study, showed the drug improved survival. It was a small study, so Dr. Gottlieb says a study is now underway to answer the question: Did survival improve because of the drug or was it a statistical fluke?

In a multi-center study at about 100 sites worldwide, 800 people will be given either a 24-hour continuous infusion of the drug or a placebo. After seeing the results from a separate study Dr. Gottlieb published in Circulation last year, he says, "The reason why I'm excited about this drug is it did look like it increased the contraction of the heart. It increased substantially the amount of blood that the heart pumps, the cardiac output and it lowers the pressures in the heart."

Dr. Gottlieb is hopeful that the drug will show similar benefits in this study. He says, "It would be wonderful to improve survival. If we could get a drug that could safely be given that improved cardiac function -- that would be very helpful. I'd love to be able to offer something like this." He says the important thing to focus on is that this drug may offer benefit without the negative side effects. He says, "If we had a drug that just improved cardiac function without being detrimental, that, in itself, would be helpful and would make patients feel better."
SOURCE: Interview with Stephen Gottlieb, M.D., from the University of Maryland, Feb. 5, 2003

 

Hormone Therapy may Help Pre-term Births (February 10, 2003)
 WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Progesterone-type hormone injections may be able to prevent pre-term births in women.

Paul J. Meis, M.D., of Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, says, "The evidence of this treatment's effectiveness was so dramatic, the research was stopped early. This drug is readily available and can be used by doctors to improve outcomes for mothers and babies."

In the study, 463 women with a history of giving birth before the 37th week of pregnancy received weekly injections of the drug 17-alpha-hydroxyprogesterone caproate (17P), or a placebo. The women began treatment during the 16th to 18th week of pregnancy and it lasted through the 36th week. Researchers initially designed the study for 500 women, however, enrollment was stopped early because of the drug's impressive success. Previous studies, conducted with smaller numbers of participants, suggested 17P may help prevent pre-term birth, but no large trial had ever been carried out.

Researchers found the risk of pre-term birth before the 37th week of pregnancy fell by 34 percent with use of the 17P injection. The pre-term birth risk after 32 weeks was also reduced by 42 percent. Dr. Meis says, "This is the first well-documented demonstration of a successful treatment to reduce pre-term births in women at risk."
SOURCE: Annual Meeting of the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine in San Francisco, Feb. 3-8, 2003

 

Eliminating Spider Veins (February 10, 2003)
MIAMI, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Laser treatments have become a wonder for all sorts of medical maladies. But some lasers can leave you bruised for weeks and many people simply can't afford the down time. Now a new laser treatment that makes blotchy veins disappear before your eyes. 

In Josie Alfonso's job as a pharmaceutical sales rep, first impressions count.

"It's very important for the doctors, when I'm talking about studies, to be interested and focused on what I'm speaking about," Alfonso tells Ivanhoe.

She has always been bothered by tiny spider veins on her face but couldn't afford the time off to remove them. Dermatologist Leslie Baumann, M.D., is treating Alfonso with the new Dornier Laser. It removes blotchy blood vessels while you watch and it does it without bruising.

"The beam goes deeper in the skin and it causes the blood vessels to collapse and close up, rather than bleed," says Dr. Baumann, of the University of Miami in Fla.

The smoke you see is from the laser heating tiny facial hairs, not the skin. In fact, patients say they feel no pain.

Dr. Baumann says the new laser is safer because it works on the blood not the skin.

Alfonso says having clear skin does wonders for her self-confidence. "I don't have to worry about putting on a lot of makeup anymore to hide flaws, they're gone already."

The Dornier Laser works on any lesion on the body that is close to the surface and has blood in it. However, it doesn't work for leg veins because they are larger and deeper. Each treatment costs between $400 and $800, and the results are permanent. 
If you would like more information, please contact:

Cedars Medical Center
1295 NW 14th St.
South Building, Suite K
Miami, FL 33125
(305) 324-7546
DrB@dermderm.net

 

Fighting Fat One Step at a Time (February 7, 2003)
 DENVER (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Forget about losing 50 pounds, suggest researchers publishing in this month's Science. The first step in combating the growing obesity problem in the United States may be to simply quit gaining weight.

Obesity is generally defined as having a body mass index of 30 or more. More than 300 million people worldwide fall into this category, and many of them are in the United States. A national nutrition survey finds the prevalence of obesity grew from 23 percent to 31 percent between 1988 and 1994. This rate of gain loosely translates to an extra 1.8 to 2 pounds per person per year.

It may sound like much, but the authors of the study note if we continue at this rate, 39 percent of Americans will be obese by 2008. The health consequences, they say, will be huge. Obesity significantly increases the risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and some cancers.

Their study set out to see how we can keep from putting on those additional pounds. The investigators analyzed data from two major studies on weight to come up with the number of calories people would have to forego each day to maintain their current weight. Results suggest just 100 per day would do the trick.

"We all know you've got to eat less and exercise more, but, well, how much?" asks study author James Hill. "That's what we've laid out."

What would we have to give up to meet the 100-calorie goal? The study finds pushing away from the last three bites of a fast food hamburger or giving up that one extra cookie would be enough. Or, we could try working off those extra calories by walking an extra mile a day, altogether or in bits and pieces.

Stemming the increase in obesity in America should be our top priority in the battle of the bulge, notes the study. "We believe this goal can be accomplished with small behavior changes that fit relatively easily into most peoples' lifestyles," write the authors.
SOURCE: Science, 2003;299:835-855

 

What's Better for Osteoarthritis? (February 6, 2003)
CHICAGO (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- A new study shows nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are better at relieving the pain of osteoarthritis than acetaminophen.

Treatment guidelines for osteoarthritis recommend patients first try using acetaminophen to relieve pain, mainly because the drug has fewer gastrointestinal side effects than aspirin or NSAIDs. However, some researchers are questioning the recommendation, particularly now that studies have shown an inflammatory component of the disease. Anecdotal reports from patients also indicate they get more relief from NSAIDs than acetaminophen.

In this study, investigators from Rush Medical College in Chicago randomized 82 patients with osteoarthritis of the knee to receive either 75 milligrams twice daily of the NSAID diclofenac sodium, 1,000 mg of acetaminophen four times a day, or a placebo. All patients were matched for age, sex, body mass index, prior use of osteoarthritis medications, pain at the beginning of the study, and radiographic features.

Researchers used standard measures to determine pain and disease state at the beginning of the study and then again after two and 12 weeks. Results showed clinically and statistically significant improvements for patients who took diclofenac sodium at both of the follow ups. There were no differences noted for those who received either acetaminophen or placebo.

The authors conclude acetaminophen is not an effective treatment for people with osteoarthritis. They write, "The advocacy of acetaminophen use in subjects with (osteoarthritis) of the knee should be reconsidered pending further placebo-controlled studies."
SOURCE: Archives of Internal Medicine, 2003;163:169-178

 

Gauging Eating Disorders Risk (February 6, 2003)
 PAMPLONA, Spain (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Girls who eat alone or who have unmarried parents have a higher risk of developing an eating disorder, say Spanish researchers. Reading girls' magazines and listening to the radio also raised the risk.

Anorexia nervosa affects about 0.5 percent of girls and young women in Western countries. About 2 percent are diagnosed with bulimia nervosa. The incidence of these diseases for girls and young women are greater than other chronic diseases for girls and young women in this age group. That makes eating disorders a major public health problem. Understanding the factors that put girls at increased risk is important in preventing eating disorders before they start.

Investigators studied nearly 2,900 girls ages 12 to 21 in one community in Spain. All completed a standard eating attitudes survey and other questionnaires in 1997. Those who scored high -- indicating they were at increased risk for eating disorders -- were interviewed by a psychiatrist who used other standard tests to diagnose cases of eating disorders. Those who were free of eating disorders at the beginning of the study were reassessed using similar methods 18 months later.

During the follow-up, 90 new cases of eating disorders were identified. Based on the results of the earlier surveys, researchers associated several factors with an increased risk. These factors included solitary eating habits, unmarried parents, frequently reading magazines aimed at girls and listening to radio programs. Television viewing and socioeconomic status, however, didn't appear to increase the risk.

Investigators believe doctors should look more closely at the eating habits and parental marital status of young girls in their care when assessing for eating disorders. They also believe more study is needed to ascertain the effect mass media may be having on the incidence of eating disorders in girls and young women.
SOURCE: Pediatrics, 2003;111:315-320

 

Protective Gear Reduces Youth Injury Risk (February 5, 2003)
 CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- A new study shows safety balls and faceguards, widely used in youth baseball, help reduce the risk of injury.

For the study, researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill used a national database of compensated insurance claims maintained by Little League Baseball, Inc., combined with data from a census on protective equipment usage for youth, ages 5 to 18, who participated in Little League Baseball between 1997 and 1999.

Results of the study show the use of safety balls was associated with a 23-percent reduced risk of ball-related injury. Faceguards were associated with a 35-percent reduced risk of facial injury. Reduced impact balls appeared to be the most effective type of safety ball with a 28-percent reduction in injury risk.

Results also show safety balls appeared to be more effective in the Little League minor division (ages 7-12) than in the regular division (ages 9-12). Also, researchers say they found no compelling evidence of any difference between plastic and metal faceguards.

Nearly two-thirds of baseball participants in the United States are under age 18. The Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates up to one-third of emergency department visits for youth baseball injuries could be prevented if safety balls, faceguards, and safety bases were used universally, assuming these devices are 100-percent effective in preventing injury.

SOURCE: Journal of the American Medical Association, 2003;289:568-574

 

Combined Treatment More Effective for Breast Cancer (February 4, 2003)
 MILAN, Italy (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Breast cancer patients whose tumors are positive for the human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) may have better long-term outcomes if they are treated with a combined therapy.

According to Italian investigators, adding the drug Adriamycin (ADM), also known as doxorubicin, to standard treatment with cyclophosphamide, methotrexare, and fluorouracil (CMF) improves both relapse-free and overall survival when compared to treatment with CMF alone.

Previous studies show patients with HER2-postive tumors tend to respond to treatment with ADM, while those with HER2-negative tumors do not. In this study, researchers investigated tumor specimens of 506 patients with breast cancer. Patients had been treated with either 12 courses of intravenous CMF or eight courses of CMF followed by four cycles of ADM. Researchers analyzed the specimens for HER2 status and then gauged the response to treatment based on interaction between treatment and HER2 status.

At a 15-year follow up, researchers found 17 deaths and 20 relapses among the 45 HER2-positive patients receiving CMF and ADM , compared to 25 deaths and 28 relapses among 50 HER2-positive patients who received CMF alone. HER2-negative patients who received the combined treatment had slightly worse outcomes than those treated with CMF alone.

The authors write, "These results suggest a therapeutic benefit of ADM treatment in patients with HER2+ breast carcinoma. This observation further confirms the conclusions of other reports suggesting that ADM activity is restricted to the subset of breast carcinomas overexpressing the HER2 oncogene."
SOURCE: Journal of Clinical Oncology, 2003;21:458-462