Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Coaching with compassion can ‘light up’ human thoughts

From a November 17, 2010 Eureka news release

Contact: Marvin Ray Kropko
Case Western Reserve University

Coaching with compassion can ‘light up’ human thoughts

Researchers at Case Western Reserve University use brain images to identify neural signature of achieving ‘positive emotional attractor’

CLEVELAND – Coaching happens just about everywhere, and every day, with learning as the goal.

Effective coaching can lead to smoothly functioning organizations, better productivity and potentially more profit. In classrooms, better student performance can occur. Doctors or nurses can connect more with patients. So, doing coaching right would seem to be a natural goal, and it has been a major topic of research at Case Western Reserve University’s Weatherhead School of Management since 1990.

For all the energy and money spent on coaching, there is little understanding about what kind of interactions can contribute to or detract from effectiveness. Ways of coaching can and do vary widely, due to a lack of understanding of the psycho-physiological mechanisms which react to positive or negative stimulus….

“We know that people respond much better to a coach they find inspiring and who shows compassion for them, rather than one who they perceive to be judging them. Sure enough, we found a trend in the same direction even for the neutral questions. Students tended to activate the areas associated with visioning more with the compassionate coach, even when the topics they were thinking about weren’t so positive,” Jack said.

“We were really struck by one particular finding in the visual cortex, where we saw a lot more activity in the more positive condition than in the more negative condition,” Jack explained. The brain areas observed are associated with imagination and operate at the intersection of basic visual processing and emotion. Jack says the fMRI images show the neural signatures of visioning, a critical process for motivating learning and behavioral change.

“By spending 30 minutes talking about a person’s desired, personal vision, we could light up (activate) the parts of the brain 5-7 days later that are associated with cognitive, perceptual and emotional openness and better functioning,” Boyatzis said. “The major implication is that people typically coach others in higher education, medicine and management with a bias toward the NEA and correcting what the person is doing that is wrong. Our study suggests that this closes down future, sustainable change, as we expected.”

Coaching with Compassion: An fMRI Study of Coaching to the Positive or Negative Emotional Attractor was presented at a recent Academy of Management Annual Meeting in Montreal and awarded as a Best Paper.

“Everyone’s got to look at weaknesses and take them on,” Jack says. “But often the focus is so much on the bottom line that we worry ourselves into the ground. It is more important to focus on what gets you going in the morning and gets you wanting to work hard and stay late.”




A video of Richard Boyatzis and Anthony Jack explaining their research and a brain scan image illustrating the PEA and NEA conditions can be seen at:

About Case Western Reserve University

Case Western Reserve University, one of the country’s leading research institutions, offers a unique combination of forward-thinking educational opportunities in an inspiring cultural setting. We provide learning from leading-edge experts in a collaborative, hands-on environment. Our nationally recognized programs include arts and sciences, dental medicine, engineering, law, management, medicine, nursing and social work.



November 18, 2010 Posted by | Health News Items | , | Leave a comment

New insight into the cause of common dementia found by researchers at Mayo Clinic

From a November 17, 2010 Eureka news alert

Contact: Kevin Punsky
Mayo Clinic

New insight into the cause of common dementia found by researchers at Mayo Clinic

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Researchers at the Mayo Clinic campus in Florida have found a clue as to how some people develop a form of dementia that affects the brain areas associated with personality, behavior, and language.

In the Nov. 17 online issue of the American Journal of Human Genetics, the scientists write that they discovered a link between two proteins — progranulin and sortilin — they say might open new avenues for the treatment of frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD), which occurs in the frontal lobe and temporal lobe of the brain. This form of dementia, which is currently untreatable, generally occurs in younger people, compared to other common neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease.

“We now can look for a direct link between these two proteins and the development of FTLD,” says the study’s lead author, neuroscientist Rosa Rademakers, Ph.D. “The hope is that if we do find a strong association, it might be possible to manipulate levels of one or both of these proteins therapeutically.”

Coincidentally, a research group from Yale University led by Stephen Strittmatter, M.D., Ph.D., has also pinpointed sortilin’s association with progranulin — thus confirming Mayo’s results. Their study is being published in Neuron, also on Nov. 17.

FTLD is a family of brain diseases that are believed to share some common molecular features. One is the presence of mutations in the gene that produces tau protein in neurons. The other is mutations in the progranulin gene that Mayo Clinic researchers and their colleagues discovered in 2006. They found that 5 to 10 percent of patients with FTLD have a mutation in this gene, and that these mutations lead to a substantial loss of normal progranulin protein production, and development of FTLD.

The protein made by the progranulin gene is found throughout the body, and performs different functions according to the type of tissue (organ) it is located in. But in the brain, it is believed to support neurons and keep them healthy.

Still, researchers do not really know how normal progranulin protein functions in the brain — what other proteins it interacts with — and so in this study they sought to uncover clues about progranulin biology by conducting a genome-wide association study (GWAS).

Based on their previous findings that a simple blood test is able to measure progranulin levels in plasma and could be used to identify patients with progranulin mutations, they tested blood from 518 healthy individuals in a GWAS to look for genetic variants that could explain some of the normal variability of progranulin levels in plasma. They found very strong association with two genetic variants in the same region of chromosome 1 and confirmed this finding in a second group of 495 healthy individuals.

By reviewing the scientific literature, they further ascertained that the same genetic variant found to be associated with plasma progranulin levels also affects the levels of the protein sortilin. Like progranulin, sortilin is found throughout the body and is involved in different tasks. In the brain, it is known to be important for survival of brain neurons.

“So, using a genetic approach, we identified a previously unknown connection between sortilin and progranulin,” Dr. Rademakers says.

The researchers then studied the two proteins in cell culture and showed that the amount of sortilin in cells determines how much progranulin is taken inside or remains outside of a cell. “Our study shows that changes in the levels of sortilin result in different levels of progranulin available to cells. Given that we found FTLD patients often have less progranulin than they should, we believe that if you can manipulate levels of progranulin and/or sortilin in the brain, you might have a way to treat this disorder,” says Dr. Rademakers.

“Our study and the study led by the Yale researchers describe completely independent and unbiased screens which both identified this protein sortilin as being important in the regulation of progranulin,” Dr. Rademakers says. “This obviously opens new avenues for treatment for patients with progranulin mutations and perhaps dementia patients in general.”



Researchers from the National Institutes of Health, University College London, the University of British Columbia, and Mayo Clinic in Minnesota also participated in this study.

The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Consortium for Frontotemporal Dementia Research. The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


About Mayo Clinic Mayo Clinic is a non-profit worldwide leader in medical care, research and education for people from all walks of life. For more information, visit



November 18, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

Access to Health Care (CDC Vital Signs Web page)

CDC Vital Signs

The recent CDC (US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)  page Access to Health Care provides general information about health insurance coverage.

Here is the summary

New 2010 estimates show that the number of Americans without health insurance is growing, affecting middle-income Americans as well as those living in poverty. About 50 million adults 18–64 years old had no health insurance for at least some of the past 12 months. People in all income brackets have been affected, not just adults living in poverty, according to a 2009 survey. In the past few years, the number of adults aged 18–64 who went without health insurance for at least part of the past 12 months increased by an average of 1.1 million per year. About half of those additional adults were middle-income.* Adults without consistent health insurance are more likely to skip medical care because of cost concerns, which can lead to poorer health, higher long-term health care costs, and early death.

*About $43,000–$65,000 household income for a household of four

This Web page includes the following links

  • Learn about your role in expanding access to health care, with tips for employers, health care providers, and everyone
  • Latest Findings with a summary of current health insurance coverage statistics
  • Who’s at Risk with a chart on the relationship between disability and health care insurance coverage
  • What can be done with tips for employers, health care providers, and everyone

November 18, 2010 Posted by | Consumer Health, Health Education (General Public), Librarian Resources, Professional Health Care Resources | , | Leave a comment

Stats of the States

These health related statistics are collected by the US  National Center for Health Statistics.

Click here for Ohio’s Fact Sheet.

A good listing of additional NCHS statistical materials may be found here.

One library’s guide to finding health statistics may be found here.

November 18, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

FDA Warning Letters issued to four makers of caffeinated alcoholic beverages

three drink cans: Green HG Core High Gravity , Orange HG Core High Gravity, Lemon Lime Core Spikeda bottle of Moonshotsix drink cans of Four Loko in various colors


fourteen drink cans in various colors showing Joose and Max products

From a Nov 17, 2010 US Food and Drug Administration press release

For Immediate Release: Nov. 17, 2010
Media Inquiries: Michael Herndon, 301-796-4673,
Consumer Inquiries: 888-INFO-FDA

FDA Warning Letters issued to four makers of caffeinated alcoholic beverages
These beverages present a public health concern

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today warned four companies that the caffeine added to their malt alcoholic beverages is an “unsafe food additive” and said that further action, including seizure of their products, is possible under federal law.

The companies receiving Warning Letters and their products are:

• Charge Beverages Corp.: Core High Gravity HG, Core High Gravity HG Orange, and Lemon Lime Core Spiked
• New Century Brewing Co., LLC: Moonshot
• Phusion Projects, LLC (doing business as Drink Four Brewing Co.): Four Loko
• United Brands Company Inc.: Joose and Max

FDA’s action follows a scientific review by the Agency.  FDA examined the published peer-reviewed literature on the co-consumption of caffeine and alcohol, consulted with experts in the fields of toxicology, neuropharmacology, emergency medicine, and epidemiology, and reviewed information provided by product manufacturers.  FDA also performed its own independent laboratory analysis of these products.

“FDA does not find support for the claim that the addition of caffeine to these  alcoholic beverages is ‘generally recognized as safe,’ which is the legal standard,” said Dr. Joshua M. Sharfstein, Principal Deputy Commissioner.  “To the contrary, there is evidence that the combinations of caffeine and alcohol in these products pose a public health concern.”

Experts have raised concerns that caffeine can mask some of the sensory cues individuals might normally rely on to determine their level of intoxication.  The FDA said peer-reviewed studies suggest that the consumption of beverages containing added caffeine and alcohol is associated with risky behaviors that may lead to hazardous and life-threatening situations.

The agency said the products named in the Warning Letters are being marketed in violation of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (the FFDCA). Each Warning Letter requests that the recipient inform the FDA in writing within 15 days of the specific steps that will be taken to remedy the violation and prevent its recurrence. If a company does not believe its products are in violation of the FFDCA, it may present its reasoning and any supporting information as well.

If the FDA believes that the violation continues to exist, the agency may pursue an enforcement action that could include seizure of the products or an injunction to prevent the firm from continuing to produce the product until the violation has been corrected.

FDA’s action today follows a November 2009 request to manufacturers to provide information on the safety of adding caffeine to their products.

FDA is aware that on November 16, Phusion Projects, LLC, the maker of Four Loko, announced its intention to remove caffeine and other stimulants from its drinks.  FDA views this announcement as a positive step. FDA has not yet heard officially from the company about this announcement, including how quickly it will remove present product from circulation and how quickly it will reformulate its product.  FDA intends to work with Phusion Projects, LLC and the other manufacturers to assure their products meet safety standards.

For More Information:


November 18, 2010 Posted by | Consumer Health, Professional Health Care Resources | , | Leave a comment

Health Care Reform Law – Informational Web Sites

From recent postings at Medlib-L, a discussion list for medical librarians about informational sources for the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act (the Health Care Reform Law)

MedlinePlus Trusted Health Information for You

  • Health Insurance (MedlinePlus, published by US National Institutes of Health)
    Links to health care reform Web sites include

HealthCare.govTake health care into your own hands

Economic Stimulus for the Healthcare IT Industry

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

Web sites I discovered through my parish’s Pax Christi meetings

Faithful Reform ( with an email sign up…and easily found links to…

  • “A Daily Dose of Truth” [currently 9 items, including the titles Medicare in Health Care Reform, The Requirement to Buy Insurance,The “R” word (Rationing), Small Business]

  • Resources [currently includes items as  A Moral Vision for our Health Care Future, Power Point presentation: The Heart in Health Care Reform ]

Herndon Alliance: Healing America’s Healthcare ( with an email sign up…and the tabs (links)

  • The Resources tab includes talking point suggestions that can be used in discussions with others as well as mass communication and writing to representatives
  • The Newsletter tab includes links to past Messages of the Week

A few journal/magazine articles (from Medlib-L postings)

** For suggestions on how to get free/low cost medical articles, go to How to obtain free/low cost medical articles in medical and scientific journals

November 18, 2010 Posted by | Consumer Health, Finding Aids/Directories, Librarian Resources, Professional Health Care Resources | , , , | Leave a comment

Online Health Education Collection at McGill University

From the Health Education Collection About Page.

The Health Education Collection published by the McGill University Health Centre contains patient education resources used by healthcare professionals at the MUHC.  [ It also contains resources for Health Professional continuing education / professional development]

This includes reliable and up-to-date information about diseases and conditions, medical procedures and tests, disease prevention and health promotion in general.

This collection includes:

  • Full-text documents created by health care professionals at the McGill University Health Centre.
  • Links to full-text documents created by other reliable organizations on the World Wide Web.
  • Information about resources that are available on-site at the MUHC affiliated hospitals.

There are three ways to search for information in this collection:

  • Quick Search – simply enter your search terms and choose a language.
  • Advanced Search – enter your search terms or search specifically by title or publisher and then limit by language, document type or department origin and even limit to MUHC publications only.
  • Health Topics – look through the list of subjects to find everything available on a particular subject.

Present Feature Resources include My Diabetes and Me and We Care About Your Pain.

The 50+ Health Topics include Arthritis, Hepatitis, Nutrition, and Surgery.

November 18, 2010 Posted by | Health Education (General Public), Librarian Resources, Professional Health Care Resources | , , | Leave a comment


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