Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Super-Sensitive Tests Could Detect Diseases Earlier

Risk of prostate cancer in two age groups base...

Risk of prostate cancer in two age groups based on Free PSA as % of Total PSA Catalona W, Partin A, Slawin K, Brawer M, Flanigan R, Patel A, Richie J, deKernion J, Walsh P, Scardino P, Lange P, Subong E, Parson R, Gasior G, Loveland K, Southwick P (1998). “Use of the percentage of free prostate-specific antigen to enhance differentiation of prostate cancer from benign prostatic disease: a prospective multicenter clinical trial”. JAMA 279 (19) : 1542–7. doi:10.1001/jama.279.19.1542. PMID 9605898. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From the 28 May 2012 ScienceDaily article

Scientists have developed an ultra-sensitive test that should enable them to detect signs of a disease in its earliest stages, in research published May 27in the journalNature Materials.

The scientists, from Imperial College London and the University of Vigo, have created a test to detect particular molecules that indicate the presence of disease, even when these are in very low concentrations. There are already tests available for some diseases that look for such biomarkers using biological sensors or ‘biosensors’. However, existing biosensors become less sensitive and predictable at detecting biomarkers when they are in very low concentrations, as occurs when a disease is in its early stages.

In the new study, the researchers demonstrated that the new biosensor test can find a biomarker associated with prostate cancer, called Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA). However, the team say that the biosensor can be easily reconfigured to test for other diseases or viruses where the related biomarker is known….

May 31, 2012 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , | Leave a comment

Bananas Are as Beneficial as Sports Drinks, Study Suggests

English: Bananas growing in a greenhouse in Ic...

English: Bananas growing in a greenhouse in Iceland. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From the 29 May 2012 ScienceDaily article

Bananas have long been a favorite source of energy for endurance and recreational athletes. Bananas are a rich source of potassium and other nutrients, and are easy for cyclists, runners or hikers to carry….

…The bananas provided the cyclists with antioxidants not found in sports drinks as well as a greater nutritional boost, including fiber, potassium and Vitamin B6, the study showed. In addition, bananas have a healthier blend of sugars than sports drinks.,,,

“The purpose of this study was to compare the acute effect of ingesting bananas versus a 6% carbohydrate beverage on 75-km cycling time trial performance, exercise-induced inflammation, oxidative stress and capacity, and changes in immune function in trained cyclists. Metabolomics is the measurement of small molecules or metabolites present in biological samples to elucidate the effect of a particular stimulus on metabolic pathways, and is being increasingly used in sports nutrition research [2][18]. The complex relationships between the use of whole foods or nutrient cocktails by athletes during exercise are best explored using the tool of metabolomics. To improve interpretation of underlying metabolic processes in the comparison between bananas and the 6% carbohydrate beverage, pre- and post-exercise blood samples were analyzed for non-targeted shifts in metabolites using gas chromatography mass spectrometry.”

“In conclusion, in this randomized, crossover study, cyclists ingesting BAN or CHO at a rate of 0.2 g/kg carbohydrate every 15 min (and one 0.4 g/kg carbohydrate dose pre-exercise) were able to complete 75-km cycling trials with no differences in performance measures. Changes in blood glucose, inflammation, oxidative stress, and innate immune measures were also comparable between BAN and CHO 75-km cycling trials, and similar to what we have previously reported for carbohydrate-fed athletes [2]. Shifts in serum metabolites following BAN and CHO 75-km cycling time trials were extensive, and indicated a similar pattern of increased liver glutathione production and fuel substrate utilization including glycolysis, lipolysis, and amino acid catabolism. FRAP was higher during BAN compared to CHO, but did not translate to diminished oxidative stress as measured with F2-isoprostanes. Serum levels of free dopamine increased in BAN compared to CHO, but concentrations were small with no demonstrable cardiovascular effects. Future studies with banana peel-based supplements will reveal if high oral dopamine intake is advantageous for endurance athletes using similar performance and physiological outcomes. In general, ingestion of bananas before and during prolonged and intensive exercise is an effective strategy, both in terms of fuel substrate utilization and cost, for supporting performance.”

May 31, 2012 Posted by | Nutrition | | Leave a comment

Exercise and a Healthy Diet of Fruits and Vegetables Extends Life Expectancy in Women in Their 70s

From the 29 May 2012 article at Science News Daily

Women in their seventies who exercise and eat healthy amounts of fruits and vegetables have a longer life expectancy, according to research published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society….

…Researchers at the University of Michigan and Johns Hopkins University studied 713 women aged 70 to 79 years who took part in the Women’s Health and Aging Studies. This study was designed to evaluate the causes and course of physical disability in older women living in the community.

“A number of studies have measured the positive impact of exercise and healthy eating on life expectancy, but what makes this study unique is that we looked at these two factors together,” explains lead author, Dr. Emily J Nicklett, from the University of Michigan School of Social Work.

Researchers found that the women who were most physically active and had the highest fruit and vegetable consumption were eight times more likely to survive the five-year follow-up period than the women with the lowest rates…

May 31, 2012 Posted by | Nutrition | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Facts in Scientific Drug Literature May Not Be

From the 29 May 2012 article at ScienceNewsDaily

A growing concern with fraud and misconduct in published drug studies has led researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Center for Pharmacoeconomic Research to investigate the extent and reasons for retractions in the research.

“We were surprised to find the proportion of retractions due to scientific misconduct in the drug literature is higher than in general biomedical literature,” said Simon Pickard, associate professor of pharmacy practice and senior author of a study published in the journalPharmacotherapy.

Nearly three-quarters of the retracted drug studies were attributed to scientific misconduct, he said, “which includes data falsification or fabrication, questionable veracity, unethical author conduct, or plagiarism. While these studies comprise a small percentage of the overall literature, health care professionals may rely on this evidence to make treatment recommendations.”

These studies can affect the treatment of thousands of patients, since scientific publications are often printed months in advance. There is an average lag in time of 39 months between the original publication and a retraction notice, Pickard said.

“Once a health care professional changes treatment options, it’s not easy to reverse,” said Jennifer Samp, a fellow in Pickard’s research group and lead author of the study. “Staying current with new findings in scientific literature is a priority for health care practitioners — especially pharmacists — and it is important for them to know when a study has been retracted, especially those with manipulated data.”…

May 31, 2012 Posted by | Consumer Health, Consumer Safety | , , , , | Leave a comment

Better urban planning is essential to improve health of the 60 percent of the global population that will be living in cities by 2030

From the 29 May 2012 EurekAlert

The proportion of the world’s population that lives in cities has been steadily rising, so that three in five of all people globally will live in a city by 2030. The University College London/LancetCommission on Healthy Cities explores the many issues other than health services that contribute to population health in a city environment.

The Commission has been prepared by lead author Professor Yvonne Rydin, UCL Bartlett School of Planning, and colleagues at UCL and worldwide. The authors address issues that apply globally and use specific examples from cities as diverse as London, Bogota, Accra, and Toronto to illustrate the issues.

Just as London’s first modern, large-scale, urban sewage treatment system resulted in a 15-year increase in life expectancy between the 1880s and the 1920s, so other large-scale planning initiatives can radically change the health outcomes of city-dwellers – especially for the poorest. In this report the authors recommend focussing on the delivery of a variety of urban projects that have a positive impact on health.

Examples from the report include community-led sanitation infrastructure programmes in the slums of Mumbai, India; action for urban greening to protect against heat stress in London summers; and transportation initiatives that encourage physical activity in Bogota, Colombia….

The Commission authors looked at cities as complex, interactive entities in which changes in one part of the system can have impacts on others. They use five case studies to illustrate important themes for healthy cities.

Each case study supports the argument for a new way of planning for urban health. Planners need to recognise that conditions of complexity make it difficult to capture all the necessary information about the links affecting urban health in one plan or strategy. Unintended consequences of policy action are likely to persist. Instead planners should be working with all urban health stakeholders, including local communities, particularly vulnerable communities.

Professor Rydin says: “There should be an emphasis on experimenting with and learning from diverse urban health projects. This can mean supporting communities in their own urban health projects, as with community latrines in Mumbai slums or urban food projects in London and Detroit.”

The Commission concludes with five recommendations:

  1. City governments should build political alliances for urban health.
  2. Governments need to identify the health inequalities in cities.
  3. Urban planners should include health concerns in their plans, regulations, and decisions.
  4. Policy makers need to recognise that cities are complex systems and urban health outcomes have multiple causes.
  5. Experimentation and learning through projects involving local communities is often the best way forward….

 

 

May 31, 2012 Posted by | environmental health | , | Leave a comment

Misuse of over-the-counter pain medication is potential health threat

A few years back a relative told me he was taking a daily acetaminophen instead of aspirin to reduce heart attacks.
Needless to say I was a bit taken aback he didn’t know that aspirin and acetaminophen were two completely different drugs.
Not only does acetaminophen not act to reduce heart attacks, but over time it has the potential for serious adverse effects as liver and kidney damage.  He switched to aspirin when I showed him the article link in the previous sentence.

And, yes, I did also tell him to also consult with a doctor about his daily acetaminophen use.

Paracetamol/acetaminophen pills, 500 mg.

Paracetamol/acetaminophen pills, 500 mg. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From the 31 May 2012 EurkAlert

Study uncovers the extent of OTC acetaminophen overdose risk

A significant number of adults are at risk of unintentionally overdosing on over-the-counter (OTC) pain medication, according to a new study in the US by Dr. Michael Wolf, from Northwestern University in Chicago, and his colleagues. Their work¹, looking at the prevalence and potential misuse of pain medication containing the active ingredient acetaminophen as well as the likelihood of overdosing, appears online in the Journal of General Internal Medicine², published by Springer.

Many adults in the US regularly use OTC pain medication containing the active ingredient acetaminophen, the most commonly used OTC pain medication in the US. They take it either on its own or in combination with other drugs, which may also contain acetaminophen. The ease of access to OTC drugs presents a challenge to patient safety as many individuals may lack the necessary health literacy skills to self-administer these medicines appropriately. Indeed, individuals make independent decisions that match an OTC product to a self-diagnosed symptom or condition. Worryingly, acetaminophen overdose is the leading cause of acute liver failure…

Wolf and team found that nearly a quarter of the participants were at risk of overdosing on pain medication using a single OTC acetaminophen product, by exceeding the dose of four grams in a 24-hour period; 5 percent made serious errors by dosing out more than six grams. In addition, nearly half were at risk of overdosing by ‘double-dipping’ with two acetaminophen containing products…

Related Websites

May 31, 2012 Posted by | Consumer Safety | , , | Leave a comment

   

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