Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

NIH launches free database of drugs associated with liver injury

 

From the 12 October 2012 news release

A free source of evidence-based information for health care professionals and for researchers studying liver injury associated with prescription and over-the-counter drugs, herbals, and dietary supplements is now available from the National Institutes of Health. Researchers and health care professionals can use the LiverTox database to identify basic and clinical research questions to be answered and to chart optimal ways to diagnose and control drug-induced liver injury.

Drug-induced liver injury is the leading cause of acute liver failure in the United States, accounting for at least half of cases. It occurs at all ages, in men and women, and in all races and ethnic groups. Drug-induced liver disease is more likely to occur among older adults because they tend to take more medications than younger people. Some drugs directly damage the liver, while others cause damage indirectly or by an allergic reaction. The most important element to managing drug-induced liver injury is to identify the drug that’s causing the problem and appropriate steps to eliminate or reduce damage to the liver.

“Because drug-induced liver disease is not a single, common disease, it is very difficult to diagnose, with each drug causing a somewhat different pattern of liver damage,” said Jay H. Hoofnagle, M.D., the major creator of LiverTox and director of the Liver Disease Research Branch at NIH’s National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). “Doctors have to rule out all other causes of liver disease before saying that a patient has drug-induced injury liver.”

LiverTox has a searchable database of about 700 medications available in the United States by prescription or over the counter. Over the next few years, another 300 drugs will be added. The database offers these features:

  • An overview of drug-induced liver injury, including diagnostic criteria, the role of liver biopsy, descriptions of different clinical patterns and standard definitions.
  • A detailed report of each drug, including background, case study, product package insert, chemical makeup and structure, dose recommendations and references with links.
  • An interactive section, allowing users to report cases of drug-induced liver injury to the LiverTox website. Reports will be automatically forwarded to the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) MedWatch program. MedWatch allows the public and health care professionals to report adverse events, product defects, or product use errors. The FDA uses the information to monitor product safety.

“LiverTox is the result of a significant scientific collaboration between the national and international clinical and research communities, the NIDDK and the National Library of Medicine (NLM),” said Steven Phillips, M.D., co-sponsor of LiverTox and director of NLM’s Division of Specialized Information Services. “LiverTox demonstrates the importance of using informatics to provide easy access to evidenced-based information to clinicians and researchers that will improve the health and well-being of all and help prevent unnecessary morbidity and mortality, worldwide. I hope the dynamic LiverTox model can be used to create a new suite of databases that can identify drug-induced injury to other organs such as the heart, kidney, and lung. The National Library of Medicine is honored to be part of this significant scientific endeavor.”

 

October 15, 2012 Posted by | Consumer Health, Consumer Safety, Finding Aids/Directories, Librarian Resources, Tutorials/Finding aids | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Curbing Malaria Spread With Cell Phone Data

From the 14 October 2012 Medical News Today article 

 

Cell phone records may be a valuable source of data that if used correctly, could help control and eliminate malaria in sub-Saharan Africa, researchers from the USA and Kenya reported in the journal Science.

Even though malaria-carrying mosquitoes do not fly very far, the disease still manages to spread over very long distances. Infected humans can carry malaria to faraway places rapidly; as fast as a plane or car can take them. A significant percentage of infected humans have no symptoms; they can unwittingly be carrying the parasite during their travels and infecting hundreds of other people.

Humans do not infect other humans directly. An infected human may arrive to a new area and be bitten by an malaria-free mosquito. The human infects that mosquito. The mosquito, now infected, bites another person – and the disease spreads on and on…..

Malaria’s ability to spread rapidly makes it a challenging infection to eliminate, especially in parts of the world with limited resources for health care. Sub-Saharan Africa, where Malaria is endemic, is a huge area with very limited resources.

Of the one million people who die from malaria each year globally, 90% are children under five years of age in sub-Saharan Africa. Researchers from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, University of Washington, Seattle, USA, earlier this year revealed thatmalaria incidence and mortality globally was much higher than experts had thought. The disease threatens 3 billion people around the world.

A team of researchers in Kenya has demonstrated how cell phone records may be utilized to identify regions that should be targeted in order to optimize malaria control and elimination efforts…

English: Life cycle of malaria, NIH, http://hi...

English: Life cycle of malaria, NIH, http://history.nih.gov/exhibits/bowman/SSmalaria.htm not very many people have lived through Malaria (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

October 15, 2012 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , | Leave a comment

Exercise Could Fortify Immune System Against Future Cancers

Physical exercise

Physical exercise (Photo credit: zhaffsky)

 

From the 10 October article at Science News Daily

 

Researchers may soon be able to add yet another item to the list of exercise’s well-documented health benefits: A preliminary study suggests that when cancer survivors exercise for several weeks after they finish chemotherapy, their immune systems remodel themselves to become more effective, potentially fending off future incidents of cancer. The finding may help explain why exercise can significantly reduce the chances of secondary cancers in survivors or reduce the chances of cancer altogether in people who have never had the disease…

..

“What we’re suggesting is that with exercise, you might be getting rid of T cells that aren’t helpful and making room for T cells that might be helpful,” Bilek says.

She adds that this finding highlights the importance of exercise for all, including those with cancer and cancer survivors. These two populations might benefit especially from the heightened “cancer surveillance” — the ability of the immune system to seek out and destroy budding cancers — that this study suggests exercise brings, Bilek explains.

“There’s a litany of positive benefits from exercise,” Bilek says. “If exercise indeed strengthens the immune system and potentially improves cancer surveillance, it’s one more thing we should educate patients about as a reason they should schedule regular activity throughout their day and make it a priority in their lives.”

 

 

October 15, 2012 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , | Leave a comment

Seaweed: An Alternative Protein Source

Dulse, edible algae

Dulse, edible algae (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

From the 12 October 2012 article at Science News Daily

 

Teagasc researchers are looking to seaweed for proteins with health benefits for use as functional foods. Historically, edible seaweeds were consumed by coastal communities across the world and today seaweed is a habitual diet in many countries, particularly in Asia. Indeed, whole seaweeds have been successfully added to foods in recent times, ranging from sausages and cheese to pizza bases and frozen-meat products.

Source of protein

Researchers have previously shown that protein-rich red seaweeds such as Palmaria palmata (common name Dulse) and Porphyra (common name Sleabhac or Laver) species may potentially be used in the development of low-cost, highly nutritive diets that may compete with current protein crop sources such as soya bean. For example, the protein content of Dulse varies from between 9-25% depending on the season of collection and harvesting. The highest percentage protein per gram of dried whole seaweed is normally found in P. palmatacollected during the winter season (October — January). Valuable amino acids such as leucine, valine and methionine are well represented in Dulse. In Porphyra species, the amino acid profile is similar to those reported for leguminous plants such as peas or beans.

Health benefits of seaweed..

In addition to its use as a protein source, the researchers have found that some of these seaweed proteins may have health benefits beyond those of basic human nutrition — for use in functional foods.

Bioactive peptides are food-derived peptides that exert a physiological, ‘hormone-like’, beneficial health effect. Proteins and peptides from food sources such as dairy, eggs, meat and fish are well documented as agents capable of reducing high blood pressure and are thought to be able to prevent CVD…

 

 

 

 

October 15, 2012 Posted by | Nutrition | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Consumer Health Digest Archive (and Links to Related Health Fraud Information Sites)

From the archive http://www.ncahf.org/digest12/index.html

Consumer Health Digest is a free weekly e-mail newsletter edited by Stephen Barrett, M.D., with help from William M. London, Ed.D., M.P.H.. It summarizes scientific reports; legislative developments; enforcement actions; other news items; Web site evaluations; recommended and nonrecommended books; research tips; and other information relevant to consumer protection and consumer decision-making. The Digest currently has 11,082 subscribers. Items posted to this archive may be updated when relevant information becomes available.


Issue #12-35, October 11, 2012

  • Pediatricians warn against home trampoline use
  • High-quality fluoride information posted
  • “Life coach” loses suit against nutrition licensing board
  • FTC halts dubious insurance plan

Issue #12-34, October 4, 2012

  • Romney campaign embraces Lyme quackery
  • Vitamin D supplementation fails to prevent colds
  • Quantum quackery criticized

Issue #12-33, September 27, 2012

  • Stem cell scammers plead guilty
  • Prominent psychiatric critic dies
  • Medifast subsidiary settles FTC charges

Issue #12-32, September 20, 2012

  • Portland City Council votes to fluoridate.
  • Physicist details why homeopathy is impossible
  • Massachusetts will post more about disciplinary actions

Issue #12-31, September 6, 2012

  • IOM publishes health-care system critique
  • Ginkgo flunks another big Alzheimer’s prevention trial
  • AMA specialty journals will be renamed in 2

 

Related Resources

  • Don’t be fooled by health fraud scams (jflahiff.wordpress.com)
  • Evaluating Health Information on the Internet (US National Cancer Institute)
    This fact sheet contains information to help people decide whether the health information they find on the Internet or receive via e-mail from a Web site is likely to be reliable.
  • Quackwatch (a private corporation operated by Stephen Barrett, MD)
  • Consumer’s Guide to Taking Charge of Health Information (Harvard Center for Risk Analysis)
  • The Penn State Medical Center Library has a great guide to evaluate health information on the Internet.
    • The tips include
      • Remember, anyone can publish information on the internet
      • If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
      • If the Web site is primarily about selling a product, the information may be worth checking from another source.
      • Look for who is publishing the information and their education, credentials, and if they are connected with a trusted coporation, university or agency.
      • Check to see how current the information is.
      • Check for accuracy. Does the Web site refer to specific studies or organizations?
  • The Family Caregiver Alliance has a Web page entitled Evaluating Medical Research Findings and Clinical Trials
    Topics include

    • General Guidelines for Evaluating Medical Research
    • Getting Information from the Web
    • Talking with your Health Care Provider
  • And a Rumor Control site of Note (in addition to Quackwatch)
     

    National Council Against Health Fraud

    National Council Against Health Fraud is a nonprofit health agency fousing on health misinformation, fruad, and quackery as public health problems. Links to publications, position papers and more.

 

October 15, 2012 Posted by | Health Education (General Public), Librarian Resources | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pre-Teen Health Disparities

Logo of the United States National Library of ...

Logo of the United States National Library of Medicine. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From the (NLM) Director’s comments page 

Greetings from the National Library of Medicine and MedlinePlus.gov

Regards to all our listeners!

I’m Rob Logan, Ph.D. senior staff National Library of Medicine for Donald Lindberg, M.D, the Director of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

Here is what’s new this week in MedlinePlus.listen

Harmful health behaviors and experiences are significantly more likely among African-Americans and Hispanic-Americans than white fifth-graders, suggests a pioneering health disparities study recently published in The New England Journal of Medicine.

In a study of 5,119 randomly selected public school fifth-graders (and their parents) in three U.S. cities, 20 percent of African-American fifth-graders witnessed a threat or injury with a gun compared to 11 percent of Latinos and five percent of white youngsters.

Several of the study’s 16 measures consistently suggest unhealthy experiences were more likely to occur among African-American and Hispanic American fifth-graders while therapeutic actions were more likely to happen to white peers.

For example, while white fifth-graders exercised vigorously an average of four and a half days per week, Latino youngsters exercised about 3.77 days and African-American fifth-graders vigorously exercised about three and a half days each week. All the above differences are statistically significant.

The authors assessed other unhealthy experiences including victimization by peers and unhealthy behaviors such as alcohol use. The authors evaluated other therapeutic behaviors including bike-helmet use…

Continue reading the transcript here

OR

Listen to the message here   –>podcast100812.mp3

October 15, 2012 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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