Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Health in a Hair Salon: Outreach Project Rooted in Beauty Shop

From the article at NLM Focus

…Finding health information in a hair salon may seem like an odd combination, but it makes perfect sense. In addition to owning MaFlo’s, Lance-Robb teaches health and computer classes at the local library on her day off. And the computers with Wi-Fi Internet access at MaFlo’s are part of an innovative program that seeks to bring health information to underserved people. The funding comes from the National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NN/LM), Southeastern/Atlantic Region (SE/A). The National Network of Libraries of Medicine, anchored by eight Regional Medical Libraries and coordinated by the National Library of Medicine, was created to help health providers and the public access health information no matter where they live or work. “We try to go to where the people are,” says Nancy Patterson, the Community Outreach Coordinator for Southeastern/Atlantic Regional Medical Library. “I call it ‘thinking inside the blocks.'” …

April 21, 2012 Posted by | Health Education (General Public), Public Health | , , , | Leave a comment

No Proof Found That Gum Disease Causes Heart Disease or Stroke

(I will continue to floss, tho, for the sake of my gums.  However it is a relief to know there is one less thing to think about when it comes to heart health)

From the 18th April 2012 article at Science Daily article

Despite popular belief, gum disease hasn’t been proven to cause atherosclerotic heart disease or stroke, and treating gum disease hasn’t been proven to prevent heart disease or stroke, according to a new scientific statement published in Circulation, an American Heart Association journal.

Keeping teeth and gums healthy is important for your overall health. However, an American Heart Association expert committee — made up of cardiologists, dentists and infectious diseases specialists — found no conclusive scientific evidence that gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, causes or increases the rates of cardiovascular diseases. Current data don’t indicate whether regular brushing and flossing or treatment of gum disease can cut the incidence of atherosclerosis, the narrowing of the arteries that can cause heart attacks and strokes.

Observational studies have noted associations between gum disease and cardiovascular disease, but the 500 journal articles and studies reviewed by the committee didn’t confirm a causative link.

“There’s a lot of confusion out there,” said Peter Lockhart, D.D.S., co-chair of the statement writing group and professor and chair of oral medicine at the Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, N.C. “The message sent out by some in healthcare professions that heart attack and stroke are directly linked to gum disease, can distort the facts, alarm patients and perhaps shift the focus on prevention away from well known risk factors for these diseases.”

Gum disease and cardiovascular disease both produce markers of inflammation such as C-reactive protein, and share other common risk factors as well, including cigarette smoking, age and diabetes mellitus . These common factors may help explain why diseases of the blood vessels and mouth occur in tandem. Although several studies appeared to show a stronger relationship between these diseases, in those studies researchers didn’t account for the risk factors common to both diseases….

“We already know that some people are less proactive about their cardiovascular health than others. Individuals who do not pay attention to the very powerful and well proven risk factors, like smoking, diabetes or high blood pressure, may not pay close attention to their oral health either” Lockhart said.  [Janice's emphasis]

Statements that imply a cause and effect relationship between periodontal disease and cardiovascular disease, or claim that dental treatment may prevent heart attack or stroke are “unwarranted,” at this time, the statement authors said.

The American Dental Association Council on Scientific Affairs agrees with the conclusions of this report. The statement has been endorsed by the World Heart Federation.

 

April 21, 2012 Posted by | Consumer Health, Medical and Health Research News | , , , , | Leave a comment

Optimism May Help Protect the Heart

myocardial infarction - Myokardinfarkt - scheme

myocardial infarction - Myokardinfarkt - scheme (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From the 18th April 2012 article at Medical News Today

Harvard researchers suggest optimism, happiness and other positive emotions may help protect heart health and lower the risk of heart attacks, strokes and other cardiovascular events. It also appears that these psychological well-being factors slow the progress of cardiovascular disease.

The findings are the result of the first and largest systematic review of its kind, and are reported in the 16 April online issue of Psychological Bulletin, by lead author Julia Boehm, a research fellow, and senior author Laura Kubzansky, an associate professor, in the department of society, human development, and health, at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) in Boston, Massachusetts….

April 21, 2012 Posted by | Consumer Health, Psychology | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gut Microbiota Transplantation May Prevent Development Of Diabetes And Fatty Liver Disease

Liver steatosis (fatty liver disease) as seen ...

Liver steatosis (fatty liver disease) as seen on CT (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From the 20 April 2012 article at Medical News Today

Exciting new data presented at the International Liver Congress™ 2012 shows the gut microbiota’s causal role in the development of diabetes and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), independent of obesity.(1) Though an early stage animal model, the French study highlights the possibility of preventing diabetes and NAFLD with gut microbiota transplantation – the engrafting of new microbiota, usually through administering faecal material from a healthy donor into the colon of a diseased recipient.(2) …

…”This study shows that different microbiota cause different metabolic responses in animals. By implanting microbiota from healthy mice, the study authors prevented the development of liver inflammation and insulin resistance, both indications of liver disease and diabetes. Thus, gut microbiota transplants could have a therapeutic role in the development of these diseases.”

The RR mice also showed lower levels of microorganisms than usually found in the healthy gut. Lachnospiraceae was identified as the species most important in developing fatty liver and insulin resistance.

At present, the intestinal microbiota is considered to constitute a “microbial organ”: one that has pivotal roles in the body’s metabolism as well as immune function. Therefore transplantation aims to restore gut functionality and re-establish a certain state of intestinal flora.

  • Gut microbiota transplantation may prevent development of diabetes and fatty liver disease (medicalxpress.com)
  • Gut microbiota transplantation may prevent development of diabetes and fatty liver disease (eurekalert.org)
  • Gut microbiota regulates bile acid metabolism (eurekalert.org)
  • Gut bacteria may cause diabetes (inspiringscience.wordpress.com)
  • Bugs in Our Guts and How They Affect Obesity (healthmad.com)
  • Obesity, GI Issues May Take Root in Gut Flora (Medical News Today)
  • The body’s bacteria affect intestinal blood vessel formation(eurekalert.org)
    • The Ecosystem Inside (From the Magazine Discover Mar2011, Vol. 32 Issue 2, p35-39, 5p)
      [Not directly available online..Check with your library...I was able to get the full text  through my hometown's public library Web pages]
      Abstract:
      The article focuses on research into the human microbiome, made up of the up to 200 trillion microbes–including bacteria, fungi, and viruses–that live primarily in the human gut and form their own ecology. Pediatrician Patrick Seed and biologist Rob Jackson are collaborating on the Preemie Microbiome Project at Duke University, aiming to understand the role of microbiome species in infant health.
      [Article excerpts]
      “The classical view of infectious disease is that a single organism invades and produces an infection,” Seed says. “But then we found that certain diseases, like irritable bowel syndrome, seem , to be caused by imbalances in the organisms that communicate with the host. So then people asked, ‘Why is this not the case for many other states of human health?'” Preliminary work by other groups, similarly made up of both biomedical researchers and microbial ecologists, suggests that imbalances in the microbiome might also be linked to allergies, diabetes, and obesity.The partnership between ecologists and biomedical researchers is characteristic of how things work in the relatively new but burgeoning field of microbiome studies. Vanja Klepac-Ceraj, a microbial ecologist by training and an assistant research investigator at the Forsyth Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts, has helped organize symposia with ecologists and biomedical researchers giving joint.talks on the ecology of disease. “Biomedical scientists understand disease, so they know where the problem lies within the body,” she says. “Ecologists understand complex systems and the interaction of many organisms….
                 …MICROBIOME STUDIES RUN DIRECTLY AGAINST THE NOTION IN THE minds of most people — even many researchers — that microbes are linked to disease, not to health. And of course not all microorganisms are benign. Infants in particular are susceptible to a number of diseases caused by gastrointestinal bacteria, including sepsis, chronic diarrhea, and necrotizing enterocolitis, an infection of the intestinal lining that is one of the leading causes of death in premature babies. Antibiotics have long been the first option in fighting these dangerous microbes, but many researchers are troubled by modern medicine’s heavy reliance on them. After all, many pathogens found within the human microbiome are harmless or even beneficial. “There is Staphylococcus and E. coli in all of us, but they don’t always cause problems,” Jackson says. “It’s the balance that is important. A more normal population of microbes in the gut can offset the bad players”…

      …In another animal microbiome experiment, Jeffrey Gordon, a biologist at Washington University in St Louis, took a suite of microbesfrom the guts of both obese and lean mice and transplanted them into the guts of microbe-free mice. The mice that received the microbiomes of the obese mice gained significantly more weight than did the mice with the lean-mouse microbiomes. The results were the same regardless of whether the obesity of the donor mice was due to genetics or diet. Although caloric intake is still the most important factor in obesity, Gordon’s research suggests that the microbiome may play a significant role by affecting the ability to extract energy from food and to deposit that energy as fat:

      Researchers hope to achieve similarly dramatic results in humans next. A critical step in making this happen is deciphering how microbes communicate. “The establishment of healthy microbial communities almost certainly requires chemical messaging between the species present in the human host,” says Texas A&M University biochemist Paul Straight, who studies interactions among bacteria. Microbes can use chemical signals, including small molecules, proteins, and DNA, to encourage neighboring organisms to grow or to tell them to stop growing. If researchers can capture and understand these molecular exchanges, they might be able to produce a kind of phrase book of chemical reactions. Such information could then be used to initiate this kind of molecular conversation on command, with an eye toward promoting the growth of helpful microbes or stunting harmful ones.

      Specially packaged mixtures of microbes, known as probiotics, may also prove useful for balancing microbes in the gut (See “Bugs for Breakfast,” opposite), Probiotics are now generally sold as health food supplements, and many of them are promoted as magic bullets that can improve metabolism or bolster immunity. Since they are as yet unregulated by the FDA, though, it is impossible for the consumer to know exactly what is inside; labels on over-the-counter products can be deceptive. Scientists who have tested them have often found something quite different from what the product promises. Nevertheless, carefully regulated probiotics, which introduce nonpathogenic competitors to disease, could be effective at balancing the gut microbiome…..

April 21, 2012 Posted by | Consumer Health, Medical and Health Research News | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bytesize Science – Educational Videos from the American Chemical Society

Bytesize Science videos include a few that are health related as

April 21, 2012 Posted by | Health Education (General Public), Nutrition | , | Leave a comment

Medical Researchers Tune Into the Internet Buzz

Medical Researchers Tune Into the Internet Buzz – WSJ.com

From the 16 April edition of the Wall Street Journal

Looking for medical information on Internet message boards can be risky for consumers. Some of it is confusing, misleading or downright wrong. But for medical researchers, all that chatter can yield some valuable insights.

Scientists from the University of Pennsylvania, for example, are mining message boards and Twitter feeds to see what breast-cancer and prostate-cancer patients are saying about herbal and nutritional supplements—including whether they take them and why and what side effects they encounter.

“People are often hesitant to talk to their doctors about herbs and supplements. But they do talk with other people, especially in an anonymous setting like a discussion board,” says principal investigator John Holmes, an epidemiologist and medical-information specialist. Even if there is no scientific evidence to support what people post, he says, “it’s useful to identify areas that would merit further study with all scientific rigor.”…

….

Chatter on the Web also can serve as an early warning sign of adverse events linked to drugs or medical devices. “We see patient conversations on the Internet as the largest post-marketing study ever,” says Michele Bennett, chief operating officer of Wool Labs, a business-intelligence company founded in 2007. The Wayne, Pa., firm can search the entire Internet for conversations that shed light on patient beliefs, buying patterns or decision making—whatever its clients, many of them drug companies, are seeking.  Wool Labs also can search Web chatter retrospectively to see how attitudes changed over time…

Analyzing Web conversations does raise ethical and privacy issues; people who talk candidly about their medical problems online may not realize it is a public forum. That is why the Penn researchers mine only discussion sites that require participants to register and explicitly state in their terms of use that any information posted will become public. The programs also filter out any posts or tweets placed by “bots” that are advertisements in disguise; containing a URL to another site is a telltale sign

The team also devised an “anonymizer” program that scrubs out any names, locations or other identifiers…

April 21, 2012 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , | Leave a comment

   

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