April 14, 2011
Women Taking More Than Men
More than half of Americans take at least one dietary supplement, up from about 40 percent during the previously studied period, according to a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in the Los Angeles Times. The newer study covered the years 2003-06 and the older study the years 1988-94. Women take more supplements than men, and in particular the use of calcium and vitamin D supplements were up. The Los Angeles Times noted that most women do not need the supplementary calcium because of calcium otherwise obtained in the diet, from milk and cheese, for instance. But young women between the ages of 9 and 18 might need calcium supplements. Multivitamins were the most popular type of supplement taken, used by 40 percent of adults surveyed.
Test Results Are Promising
Twenty-five million Americans suffer from arthritis which is conventionally treated with oral meds. Now, researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hosp. report good results with an injectable gel that allows the targeted release of medicine to an affected joint and dispenses medicine in response to enzymes associated with arthritic flare-ups. "The Holy Grail of drug delivery is an autonomous system that [meters] the amount of drug released in response to a biological stimulus, ensuring that the drug is released only when needed at a therapeutically relevant concentration," writes study leader Jeffrey Karp whose drug-containing gel has yet to be tested on humans. Researchers say the gel will also help those with the localized treatment of cancers and cardiovascular disease.
A vegetarian diet may be best, at least when it comes to warding off metabolic diseases including heart disease, diabetes and stroke, finds new research from Loma Linda U. According to the research, vegetarians have a 36% lower incidence of metabolic syndrome which is characterized by the following factors: high blood pressure, unhealthy waist circumference, elevated HDL cholesterol and triglycerides and high glucose levels - and which can be precursors to metabolic disease. According to the study, 25% of vegetarians had metabolic syndrome but that number rises to 37% for semi-vegetarians and 39% for non-vegetarians. Says lead researcher Nico S. Rizzo of the study, "It indicates that lifestyle factors such as diet can be important in the prevention of metabolic syndrome."
Loss Is Often Temporary
Hospitalizations may cause temporary memory loss in the elderly finds a new Northwestern U study. More than 200 hospitalized, independently-living seniors who did not suffer from cognitive problems participated in the study. At the time of discharge, close to 1/3 showed low cognition which had not previously been noticed. A follow-up study one month later showed that 58% no longer had low cognition. The concern is that affected seniors might not understand discharge instructions say researchers. "If a patient is by herself the day of a hospital discharge, it's possible that she won't comprehend complicated medical instructions, increasing medication errors and chances of re-hospitalization,” says lead author Lee Lindquist who recommends frequent follow-ups after discharge.
Facebook Not into Sex Ed
Facebook has deleted the accounts of art fans who posted the image of The Origin of the World, a famous oil painting of a naked woman's vagina hanging in the Musee d'Orsay in Paris. According to Gawker, Facebook has canceled the accounts of at least three users who posted the painting. One man in France is suing Facebook. He changed his profile photo to the painting, and his account was deleted on the eve of his birthday, cutting him off from 800 friends. Gawker also reports that Dutch artist Frode Steicke was also the victim of account deletion after he posted the masterpiece view on his wall. In an act of solidarity, French writer Luc Wouters, who accuses Facebook of practicing Sharia law, changed his profile picture to the painting and had his account deleted.
Stress Is Blamed
Catherine Zeta-Jones, an Oscar-winning actress, has bipolar disorder and is currently staying in a mental health facility, confirms her publicist CeCe Yorke. Zeta-Jones has been diagnosed with bipolar II disorder, which is less severe than bipolar I, reports Today. Bipolar II is characterized by swinging from major depression to hypomania, which may include sleeplessness, relentless optimism, intense irritability and grandiose elation. The disorder is often treated with medication, such as lithium, and therapy. Yorke blames stress for Zeta-Jones' hospital stay. The actress is married to Michael Douglas, who is being treated for advanced throat cancer.
Anxious parents are having trouble finding popular drugs used to treat ADHD and ADD, Aderall and Ritalin, reports MSNBC. The drugs, known generically as methylphenidate hydrochloride and amphetamine mixed salts, have been added to a growing list of national drug shortages. The drugs are used by 66 percent of the estimated 5.4 million kids ages 4 to 17 in the U.S. with ADHD. The consequences of missing even one dose of ADHD medicine can be negative. Symptoms of ADHD begin to resurface swiftly after missing a dose. The FDA reports that the shortages could last for weeks or months. However, with a doctor's authorization, some patients may be able to take similar drugs of a different strength, produced by another manufacturer.
Another Johnson & Johnson Recall
"Originally prescribed as an anti-seizure medication, Topamax/Topiramate has also been prescribed off-label to prevent migraines and to treat obesity. It was found that pregnant women taking Topamax run the risk of having a child with birth defects such as a cleft lip."
- Sonja in the comments
The anti-seizure medication Topamax was recalled today by Johnson & Johnson after four consumers complained of an "uncharacteristic odor," possibly caused by trace amounts of TBA or 2,4,6 tribromoanisole. The Ortho-McNeil Neurologics division of J&J believes that around 6,000 bottles of the affected Topamax remain in the marketplace. CNN reports that the recall involves two lots of Topamax 100 mg tablets, distributed between October 19 and December 28, 2010. Ortho-McNeil Neurologics doesn't expect a product shortage to result from this recall.
Slows Medullary Cancer Growth
Vandetanib has become the first drug approved by the FDA for treatment of a rare form of late-state thyroid cancer, reports Los Angeles Times. The drug slows cancer progression for patients with metastatic medullary thyroid cancer. In the trials, patients who received vandetanib had no progression of disease for an additional six months compared with patients who received a sugar pill. The drug is the only treatment for the cancer if it's not stopped by surgery or radiation. Some patients who take vandetanib live much longer as a result, but others don't even experience the six-month advantage. While the cancer drug offers hope, it does come with some serious potential side effects, including irregular heartbeats that may result in death.
Targets Mutated Enzyme
A new drug fights chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) that has become resistant to standard treatment in mouse models and human leukemia cells based on results from a new study out of Tufts Medical Center. In human leukemia cells, DCC-2036 worked by decreasing the mutant enzyme, BCR-ABL1 that plays a role in the relapse and resistance. In mice, the drug killed the cancer cells and they survived longer. The drug was developed by Deciphera Pharmaceuticals LLC and the crystal structure of the enzyme was studied so the drug could be made specifically for the mutant enzyme. CML is diagnosed in approximately 5,000 people annually in the U.S. and a third of patients who relapse have to undergo a bone marrow transplant. Phase I trials are currently being conducted.
MRI Detects Early Dementia Signs
Two long-term studies involving 33 healthy people found that areas of the brain begin to shrink about 10 years before Alzheimer’s is diagnosed. Regular magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans analyzed areas most often affected by Alzheimer’s. Over the course of the study, eight people in the one group and seven in the second developed the disease. Past scans showed that the brains of those who developed Alzheimer’s had low MRI measurements, an indication of brain shrinkage. Fifty-five percent of the 11 people with the lowest measurement went on to develop Alzheimer’s compared to the nine people with the highest measurements, none of whom developed dementia. It is the most common form of dementia, killing neurons and causing memory loss and cognitive and behavioral changes.
A Sweet Treatment
Honey may be a valuable weapon in the fight against antibiotic-resistant bacteria that can lead to life-threatening wound infections with few treatment options. A study conducted at the University of Wales Institute Cardiff found that Manuka honey prevents Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Group A Streptococci from attaching to tissues. This prevents biofilm from forming, which results in antibiotic resistance. Honey increased the susceptibility of Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, also known as MRSA, to antibiotics. Researchers are very excited that this honey, which comes from the manuka tree in New Zealand, essentially reverses antibiotic resistance. They believe these results will likely increase its use in a clinical setting in combination with antibiotics.
Breast Cancer's Self Defense
Researchers have discovered that healthy breast tissue secretes interleukin 25 (IL25) which kill breast cancer cells. Breast cancer cells express high levels of IL25 receptors so healthy cells are spared. In the lab, normal mammary epithelial cells secrete signaling factors that make breast cancer cells act normal when incubated in medium with these factors. IL25 induces apoptosis which is programmed cell death through various signals in the cell and the surrounding cells. Five other proteins that normal breast cells produce and secrete are being investigated and they appear to halt the growth of cancer cells as opposed to killing them like IL25. It is hope that these proteins and IL25 therapeutically treat aggressive breast cancers as well as other cancers.
Lungs Start of Abnormal Response
Researchers at Ohio State University found that chronic inhalation of pollutants activates toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) which results in white blood cells that normally fight pathogens are sent into circulation and accumulating in fat. They release chemicals such as NADPH oxidase that produce oxygen free radicals, damaging vessels. This abnormal inflammatory response increases the risk problems such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity. Trouble initially arises in the pleural fluid lining the lungs in which molecules present change in structure and trigger TLR4 activation. Studies done in TLR4 knockout mice show they have a lower inflammatory response when exposed to pollution. Previous research has suggested a link between air pollution and chronic health problems.
One Mechanism, Two Conditions
Drugs designed to treat Alzheimer’s by inhibiting Beta-Site amyloid precursor protein cleaving enzyme 1 (BACE1), which plays a role in making amyloid plaques that accumulate in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s and kill neurons, appear to regenerate nerve cells that have been damaged. Inhibiting BACE1s also produces myelin that insulates nerve endings so the signal retains its strength as it travels along the nerve. Studies in BACE1 knock-out and normal mice that had their sciatic nerves cut showed the knockouts cleared out the debris near the injury, which allowed for regeneration and made new connections to muscle or nerve endings days before the normal mice. Researchers want to conduct more studies to determine if these drugs will treat neuropathies and spinal cord injuries.
Factors Double Alzheimer’s Risk
People who are showing signs of cognitive decline should have their blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes and any other issues that could impair vascular health to lower their risk of Alzheimer’s. Various medical tests, medical history questionnaires and cognitive tests given to 837 people found that 414 of them had at least one vascular risk factor. They were divided into groups based on whether none, some were or all of their risk factors were treated with drugs and/or dietary restrictions. A five year follow up showed that 298 people developed Alzheimer’s. Having vascular risks doubled the chance of developing Alzheimer’s compared to not having them. Having all the risk factors treated reduced the risk by 39 percent while only getting treated for some reduced it by 26 percent.
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