Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Nutrition expert discusses how research changes food policy, politics [Q & A]

Nutrition expert discusses how research changes food policy, politics.

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Marion Nestle thinks the new U.S. dietary guidelines might be on to something
Marion Nestle, a professor at New York University, is very knowledgeable about “food politics” – how thefood industry and powerful lobbying groups have more influence over what Americans eat than science does – and has written a book by the same …

The intersection of food, sustainability and politics
Marion Nestle, a New York University nutrition professor and author of “Food Politics,” said she thinks it’s about time the committee consider the American diet’s impact on the world. Calling the draft guidelines “groundbreaking,” Nestle said they were scientifically sound.

“The committee said the healthiest diet has a lot of plant foods in it,” Nestle says. “And guess what? The most sustainable diet you can possibly eat is exactly the same.”

Dairy is included in the picture to look like a glass of milk. Marion Nestle, author of “Food Politics,” “Eat, Drink, Vote,” and other leading books on the intersection of policy and agriculture, explains that the recommendations shifted from focusing on …

 

July 19, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Active substance targeting dreaded hospital germs [News release]

Active substance targeting dreaded hospital germs.

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May 29, 2015 / B3C newswire / — In the German Center for Infection Research (DZIF), scientists from the universities of Tübingen, Münster and Munich join forces and prepare together with the company Hyglos clinical studies on an active substance against the dreaded hospital pathogen Staphylococcus aureus: A highly effective protein from bacteria-specific viruses, so-called bacteriophages, shall rapidly kill the bacteria, which frequently occur in the nose. Due to the specific action, the natural microflora is maintained. Such prophylactic treatment of nasal colonization could counteract the spread of especially methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in hospitals and thereby prevent infections in patients.

July 19, 2015 Posted by | health care, Medical and Health Research News | , , , | Leave a comment

Pick Your Poison: Intoxicating Pleasures and Medical Prescriptions

Pick Your Poison: Intoxicating Pleasures and Medical Prescriptions
·http://www.nlm.nih.gov/exhibition/pickyourpoison/
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It’s not hard to see why our readers loved this thought-provoking expose of America’s long history with mind-altering substances. In fact, the ad for Cocaine Toothache Drops (contemporarily priced at 15 cents) alone is worth a trip to this colorful and well curated site. Lesson plans and online activities help educators illustrate how the United States has handled the thin and shifting line between useful medical prescriptions and harmful, illicit substances.

Over a century ago, it was not uncommon to find cocaine in treatments for asthma, cannabis offered up as a cure for colds, and other contentious substances offered as medical prescriptions. This engaging collection from the U.S. National Library of Medicine brings together sections on tobacco, alcohol, opium, and marijuana. Visitors can learn about how these substances were marketed and also view a selection of digitized items culled from its voluminous holdings, including advertisements, doctor’s prescriptions, and early government documents. In the Education section, educators can look over lesson plans, check out online activities, and explore online resources from the National Institutes of Health, such as, “A Guide to Safe Use of Pain Medicine” and “College Drinking: Changing the Culture.”

July 19, 2015 Posted by | Consumer Health, Educational Resources (High School/Early College(, Health Education (General Public) | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Grammar can influence the perception of motion events

Grammar can influence the perception of motion events.

From the 26 May 2015 Max-Planck Institute news release

Different languages can have subtly different effects on the way we think and perceive, a phenomenon known as linguistic relativity. In a new paper in the journal Cognition, researcher Monique Flecken from the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, together with colleagues, shows that even when we are not speaking, the grammar of our native language may influence the way we perceive motion events.

In the study, Flecken, with colleagues Panos Athanasopoulos (Lancaster University), Jan Rouke Kuipers (University of Stirling) and Guillaume Thierry (Bangor University), measured the extent to which German and English participants allocated attention totrajectory and endpoint of motion events in a task in which they did not have to speak. Participants were presented with short animations of a dot travelling along a trajectory towards a geometrical shape (endpoint), followed by a picture symbolising the event.

…German participants allocated more attention to endpoints than English speakers, in accordance with the grammatical patterns of their language. Prior work has suggested that linguistic relativity effects may only occur when people are (silently) speaking or planning to speak. In a second experiment, Flecken and colleagues were able to show that this was unlikely.

…linguistic relativity extends to the domain of non-verbal motion perception.” So, even in a non-verbal context, the grammatical properties of a language, including the ways in which events are normally encoded in sentences, influence the way people perceive and attend to motion events.

July 19, 2015 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News, Psychology | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Precision medicine is ‘personalized, problematic, and promising’

Precision medicine is ‘personalized, problematic, and promising’.
F
rom the  10 July 2015 University of Pennsylvania news release

Since President Barack Obama’s State of the Union Address in January 2015, the nation has been talking about a revolution in patient care, known by many as precision medicine.

Of course, the country is used to hearing the president talk about health care, especially the Affordable Care Act. But when the White House starts launching $215 million initiatives to accelerate research—in this case, the Precision Medicine Initiative, according to a White House Press release—you can be sure it’s not just a passing fad.

First, what is precision medicine?

Precision medicine is about tailoring treatments to the patient’s genome and body function. The promise is that this detailed personal health data can determine what’s most effective for each individual, which can lead to better outcomes.

Most of precision medicine’s application currently focuses on cancer. Launched in 2013, Penn Medicine’s Center for Personalized Diagnostics (CPD) helps oncologists determine the best treatment for their cancer patients by looking at the cancer’s genome.

Here’s how precision medicine is being practiced at Penn:

  1. A patient is diagnosed with cancer.
  2. If the cancer involves a solid tumor—like breast, lung, or colon cancer—the tumor is surgically removed during a biopsy, and a chunk of the tissue is sent to Penn Medicine’s CPD. If the cancer involves blood or bone marrow—like leukemia—a sample of the blood or bone marrow is sent.
  3. The CPD sequences a panel of genes that are known to be involved in cancer. This test examines DNA within the tumor, blood or bone marrow sample. The goal is to find DNA mutations that are driving the cancer.
  4. A report on the mutations found is sent to the patient’s oncologist.
  5. The oncologist determines if there are therapies or treatments available that work better than others—or not at all—on the patient’s particular type of cancer.

“We’re using precision medicine to give patients the right drugs, guided by the DNA sequence information from their cancer, so we’re not exposing them to potentially toxic effects,” explains David Roth, MD, PhD, director of the CPD. “This individualized therapy is better than treatment based on the ‘average patient.’”

Precision Medicine is being researched, translated and applied across Penn Medicine. Here,
experts from the Center for Personalized Diagnostics share four predictions on how precision medicine will change how cancer is treated in future generations.

1. Cancer will be diagnosed earlier.

Jennifer Morrissette, PhD, clinical director of the CPD:

“There are different stages of tumors. The earlier you catch the tumor, the more likely you are to survive it. My theory is that this century will be the century of diagnostics. We will be diagnosing people’s cancers earlier and earlier.

“That way, we are not dealing with advanced metastatic tumors that have acquired so many different changes that they’re hard to treat. We’ll be capturing tumors very early, in stage one; have a definitive surgery; follow the patient for a certain number of years to make sure that the cancer hasn’t spread; and then they’ll be cured.

“Some people put off seeing a physician because they don’t want chemo, but the longer they put it off, the more likely they are going to have metastatic disease.”

2. Cancer treatment will be based on each person’s health profile.

David Roth, MD, PhD, director of the CPD:

“[In the past,] doctors had been treating [the average patient] based upon results from a large study.

“The revolution in precision medicine is that now we have better tools to understand what’s going on with you as an individual. Instead of saying, ‘Okay, you have this particular cancer, and you have a 30 percent chance. So, go ahead and get this toxic therapy,’ we can be much more specific.

“If we were able to tell you that you have a five percent chance of responding to a chemotherapy based on the makeup of your tumor, would you still do it?”

3. Gene paneling will be used for diagnosis, not just treatment.

David Lieberman, MS, CGC (certified genetic counselor):

“We tend to see certain genes mutated in certain cancers. For example, there is a certain set of
genes [that are] typically mutated in lung cancer or another set in lymphoma.

“It is not always clear using historical methods what type of cancer a patient has. This makes treatment decisions challenging. Sequencing the tumor’s DNA on a panel of known cancer-related genes may help clarify the cancer’s origin and, in this way, assist the clinician in determining treatment or prognosis.”

$215 million: The amount the White House will invest in the Precision Medicine Initiative in 2016
Source: WhiteHouse.gov

4. More cancer patients will have a treatment team, rather than just an       oncologist.

Jennifer Morrissette PhD, clinical director of the CPD:

“It’s not going to be one physician making all the decisions. Cancer treatment has gotten much more complex. Because of the availability of multi-gene testing, you need a group of people with different types of expertise to make the best decision for a patient.

“In addition to the team directing care for the appropriate approach—whether it’s surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, pain management—now there is also the genetic component.

“[The team’s] able to sit in a room with people from the lab who can talk about what the result means, have the oncologist tell them about the patient and then get the clinical geneticist’s notion that there may be an inherited predisposition. Then, they walk out with a consolidated treatment plan for that patient.”

The future of medicine

For more than 250 years, advancements like “precision medicine” have been the hallmark of Penn Medicine. As the first school of medicine in the United States, it has been and continues to be a place where the future of medicine and the future leaders in medicine are being developed.

July 19, 2015 Posted by | health care, Medical and Health Research News | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The analogy that builds human thought

The analogy that builds human thought.

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From the 27 May 2015 EurkAlert

When Niels Bohr hypothesised his model of atom with the electrons orbiting the nucleus just like satellites orbit a planet, he was engaging in analogical reasoning. Bohr transferred to atoms the concept of “a body orbiting another”, that is, he transferred a relation between objects to other, new objects. Analogical reasoning is an extraordinary ability that is unique to the human mind, is not seen in animals (except very rarely in primates) and that forms the basis of highly sophisticated human thoughts. Scientists have wondered about the origin of this cognitive function: for example, is it necessary to have developed linguistic abilities or are we born already cognitively equipped for this type of abstraction? According to a new study carried out with the collaboration of the International School for Advanced Studies (SISSA) of Trieste and just published in Child Development, the second hypothesis is probably true: analogical abilities precede language and are already present in infants just a few months old.

July 19, 2015 Posted by | Psychiatry | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Data analysis reveals link between age of puberty onsite and health in later life

Data analysis reveals link between age of puberty onsite and health in later life.

From the 18 June 2015 Guardian article

The age that children hit puberty has been found to be a significant predictor of their health in later life, researchers say.

The University of Cambridge study confirms previous findings of a link between early puberty in women and heart disease and type 2 diabetes, and has shown for the first time that early puberty in men is also associated with these conditions.

Those who went through puberty relatively early had around 50% higher relative risks for type 2 diabetes and heart disease. However, women and men who went through puberty relatively late had a higher relative risk of developing asthma.

Researchers from the Medical Research Council (MRC) epidemiology unit at theUniversity of Cambridge found that the age at which both men and women begin puberty is associated with a total of 48 different health conditions including irritable bowel syndrome, arthritis, glaucoma, psoriasis and depression – along with early menopause in women.

July 19, 2015 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Increased anxiety associated with sitting down

Increased anxiety associated with sitting down.
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From the 18 June 2015 EurkAlert

Low-energy activities that involve sitting down are associated with an increased risk of anxiety, according to research published in the open-access journal BMC Public Health

Low energy activities that involve sitting down are associated with an increased risk of anxiety, according to research published in the open access journal BMC Public Health. These activities, which include watching TV, working at a computer or playing electronic games, are called sedentary behavior. Further understanding of these behaviors and how they may be linked to anxiety could help in developing strategies to deal with this mental health problem.

Many studies have shown that sedentary behavior is associated with physical health problems like obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and osteoporosis. However, there has been little research into the link between sedentary behavior and mental health. This is the first systematic review to examine the relationship between anxiety and sedentary behavior.

Anxiety is a mental health illness that affects more than 27 million people worldwide. It is a debilitating illness that can result in people worrying excessively and can prevent people carrying out their daily life. It can also result in physical symptoms, which amongst others includes pounding heartbeat, difficulty breathing, tense muscles, and headaches.

Megan Teychenne, lead researcher and lecturer at Deakin University’s Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition Research (C-PAN) in Australia, said: “Anecdotally – we are seeing an increase in anxiety symptoms in our modern society, which seems to parallel the increase in sedentary behavior. Thus, we were interested to see whether these two factors were in fact linked. Also, since research has shown positive associations between sedentary behavior and depressive symptoms, this was another foundation for further investigating the link between sedentary behavior and anxiety symptoms.”

The C-PAN team suggests the link between sedentary behavior and anxiety could be due to disturbances in sleep patterns, social withdrawal theory and poor metabolic health. Social withdrawal theory proposes that prolonged sedentary behavior, such as television viewing, can lead to withdrawal from social relationships, which has been linked to increased anxiety. As most of the studies included in this systematic-review were cross-sectional the researchers say more follow-up work studies are required to confirm whether or not anxiety is caused by sedentary behavior.

Megan Teychenne said: “It is important that we understand the behavioral factors that may be linked to anxiety – in order to be able to develop evidence-based strategies in preventing/managing this illness. Our research showed that evidence is available to suggest a positive association between sitting time and anxiety symptoms – however, the direction of this relationship still needs to be determined through longitudinal and interventional studies.”

July 19, 2015 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , | Leave a comment

   

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