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Feb 28
New Test for Detecting Lung Cancer in Non-smokers
Scientists from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, US have now developed a new, cheaper and faster method to detect certain types of lung cancer in patients with no history of smoking.

About 8-12% people who have never smoked a single cigarette suffer from lung adeno carcinoma. A protein called 'anaplastic lymphoma kinase' (ALK) is present in the tumor which grows in such patients. Such a tumor is most likely to be detected among younger people and is more aggressive than the other types of tumors. The disease progression is more than double the progression rate of ALK-negative lung cancer tumor.

Immunohistochemistry (IHC) can be used to detect lung cancer by testing antigens or proteins in the tumor. Study leader, Dr. Ping Yang said, "This discovery could make it easier for doctors to select the best courses of treatment for individual patients. Because it is already performed in most pathology labs, (IHC) testing can be done on-site versus sending a sample to another diagnostic testing site."

Feb 28
Low Vitamin D Linked to Allergy Risk in Kids
The data came from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2005-2006 (NHANES), which is a program of studies aimed at assessing the health and nutritional status of adults and children in the U.S.

The study participants underwent blood tests measuring levels of Immunoglobulin E(IgE), a protein that is produced when the immune system responds to allergens.

Researchers say their findings don't prove that insufficient vitamin D causes allergies in children and adolescents, but strongly suggests that young people should get adequate amounts of the vitamin.

"The latest dietary recommendations calling for children to take in 600 IU of vitamin D daily should keep them from becoming vitamin D deficient," researcher Michal Melamed, MD, MHS, of the Albert Einstein College Medicine of Yeshiva University, says in a news release.

The study says vitamin D is thought to have anti-inflammatory effects in the body.

The researchers note that the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency is increasing in the U.S., and so is the prevalence of food allergies.

The study is published in the Feb. 17 online edition of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

Feb 26
Running for cancer research
After the marathon, Mumbaikars can gear up for one more race on February 27. But this race will be of a different kind as there will be no winners nor losers.

The Terry Fox Run is a non-competitive event conducted to raise funds for the Tata Memorial Hospital and Cancer research. In a meet held at Trident on Friday, Judith Fox-Alder, sister of Terry Fox, said that the run in India is the second largest in the world. ''Thirty-four countries participate in the Terry Fox Run. It is amazing to see how Terry, who had run the Marathon of Hope 30 year ago, has won the hearts of people all over the world,'' said Judith.

The event will be held on February 27 at 8 am and will begin from Air-India building at Nariman Point to Marine Drive flyover and back to Brabourne Stadium. Around 50-60 schools will participate in the run. State DGP D Sivanandan and singer Raageshwari will flag off the run.have one more reason to run. But this time it will be to raise funds for cancer research.

It is time to run for a cause once again and this time, Mumbaikars will run just for the sheer joy of running. The Terry Fox Run is a non-competitive event where people get together as individuals, families and groups to raise money, proceeds of which will go to the Tata Memorial Hospital for Cancer research.

In an event held at Trident on Friday, Judith Fox-Alder, sister of Terry Fox said she marvelled at how much the annual run had been able to do for cancer research, and how much it continued to do. The Run in India is now the second biggest run in the world! "We have 34 countries that are doing Terry Fox runs now. It's quite amazing that Terry 30 years ago did his Marathon of Hope and captured a nation, and now he has captured the hearts of people all over the world" said Fox-Alder.

The Terry Fox Run will be held on February 27 at 8.00 a.m. from Air-India Building (Nariman Point) to Marine Drive Flyover and back to Brabourne Stadium. 50-60 schools will participate in this run. State director-general of police D Sivanandan and singer Raageshwari will flag off the Run.

Feb 26
Kids with vitamin D deficiencies may be more prone to allergies
A new study suggests that children with vitamin D deficiencies are more likely to have both food allergies and outdoor allergies.

The study, published February 17 in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, found that kids with low levels of vitamin D were 2.3 times as likely to have allergies to oak and 2.4 times as likely to be allergic to peanuts as kids with sufficient levels of the vitamin. Researchers also found a link between allergies to ragweed, dogs, cockroaches, shrimp and seven other allergens and vitamin D deficiencies.

In the study, tests showing the children had less than 15 nanograms of vitamin D per milliliter of blood qualified as a vitamin D deficiency. Kids with enough vitamin D showed more than 30 nanograms of the vitamin per milliliter of blood.

A previous study reported that the number of people who visit emergency rooms due to acute allergic reactions to food rises in the winter, the researchers said, citing a possible link to vitamin D. Vitamin D levels drop during the winter, because sunlight is necessary to generate the vitamin in the body.

Study researcher Dr. Michal Melamed, assistant professor of medicine and of epidemiology and population health at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, said, "The latest dietary recommendations calling for children to take in 600 I.U. of vitamin D daily should keep them from becoming vitamin D deficient."

Other ways to get vitamin D on dark, winter days? The body does store vitamin D, so stocking up in summer months can help see you through winter's dim days. Vitamin D doesn't occur naturally in many foods, but mackerel, sardines, salmon, and fish liver oil are rich sources: three ounces of canned pink salmon, for example, contains about 600 I.U. of vitamin D. Vitamin-fortified cereals and dairy products are good options, as are dietary supplements of vitamin D.

However, there is some debate over how your body processes vitamin D from foods. "When you ingest vitamin D, only about 60 percent of it sticks to vitamin D-binding protein, but when you make vitamin D in your skin, 100 percent binds to the protein," said Michael F. Holick, director of both the general clinical research unit and the bone health care clinic at Boston University Medical Center in the US, in an MSN interview.

Feb 24
Cannabis use possibly linked with sexual dysfunction
The widely-used illicit drug cannabis hampers sexual health, or at least the following article suggests so. Dr. Rany Shamloul, a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology recently found that cannabis usage leads to sexual dysfunction among men. The research findings can probably alter the currently believed impact of cannabis use on sexual health.

The investigation was conducted on animals and in vitro studies that seemingly associated cannabis use with sexual dysfunction. According to the commonly held belief, cannabis affects certain receptors in the brain, but these receptors also exist in the penis. Since cannabis use allegedly have an antagonizing effect on receptors in the penis, ability to achieve and maintain an erection may be extremely difficult.

The drug is apparently utilized by young, sexually active people who are unaware of its hazardous effects on sexual health and performance. As Nathaniel Branden quotes, 'The first step toward change is awareness. The second step is acceptance,' making people aware about the negative outcomes of cannabis usage appears beneficial. The research seems to have important implications in the health-space.

The research will appear in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Sexual Medicine.

Feb 24
Behavioural therapy for insomniac seniors
A brief, individualised counselling programme can help improve sleep in older adults with insomnia.

Chronic insomnia is a common health problem with substantial consequences in older adults. Cognitive behavioural treatments are efficacious but not widely available. To test the efficacy of brief behavioural treatment for insomnia vs. an information control condition, researchers from America involved 79 insomnia patients, with an average age of about 72 years, who were divided into two groups. The 39 patients in the treatment group received four sessions of individualised behavioural counselling from a nurse clinician. Two sessions were conducted in person and two by phone. The 40 patients in the control group received only general printed educational material about insomnia and sleep habits.

After four weeks, more patients in the behavioural treatment group than the control group showed a favourable response (67 percent versus 25 percent) or no longer had insomnia (55 percent versus 13 percent).

The results suggest that for every 2.4 patients treated with the counselling programme, one would respond favourably and one would no longer have insomnia.

Feb 23
High Triglyceride Levels Linked to Increased Stroke Risk: Study
Men and women with high triglyceride levels are at an increased risk of ischemic stroke, which typically occurs when blood flow to the brain is blocked by a build-up of fatty deposits within blood vessels, a new Danish study contends.
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In fact, this stroke risk seems to be more pronounced for triglyceride fats than it is for cholesterol, even though cholesterol is currently the prime focus of current guidelines. These findings, the researchers said, suggest that triglyceride levels should be incorporated into stroke-prevention guidelines.

"There might be an association between elevated triglyceride levels and increased stroke risk," said Dr. Tara Narula, a cardiologist with Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. "All the guidelines really just focus on total cholesterol and LDL [low-density lipoprotein] cholesterol, and not on non-fasting triglycerides."

The link between high cholesterol and stroke has never actually been proven, yet giving people the cholesterol-lowering drugs known as statins seems to lower their stroke risk. But statins also lower triglyceride levels, suggesting that this might be the mechanism at play.

High triglyceride levels may indicate the presence of fat particles similar to "bad" low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, which can also contribute to the build-up of plaque in arterial walls.

"Triglycerides are associated with atherosclerosis; however, triglycerides in themselves are not causal in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis," explained Dr. Marianne Benn, senior author of the study, which appears in the Feb. 21 online issue of the Annals of Neurology. "They are a marker of high levels of atherogenic lipoprotein remnants [very low density lipoproteins and intermediate density lipoproteins]."

Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States, according to the American Stroke Association, and 87 percent of all cases are attributed to ischemic stroke, according to background information from the researchers.

In the Danish study, Benn and her colleagues looked at almost 14,000 men and women, all white, in Copenhagen, who had had baseline triglyceride and cholesterol levels taken between 1976 and 1978 and who were then followed for up to 33 years. During that time, 837 women and 837 men had an ischemic stroke.

For both men and women, higher non-fasting triglyceride levels were linked with an increased risk of stroke, even after adjusting for age, gender, smoking, alcohol use, lipid-lowering therapy, hormone therapy (in women) and other factors.

Women with triglyceride levels of 443 mg/dL had nearly quadruple the risk of suffering a stroke, compared to women whose levels were less than 89 mg/dL. Those with levels between 89 and 177 mg/dL had a 20 percent increased risk.

Mens' increased risk ranged from 20 percent to 2.3-times higher, with the risk increasing as triglyceride levels went up.

Increased cholesterol was not linked to an increased risk of stroke in women, though it was in men whose cholesterol was 348 mg/dL or higher.

The American Heart Association characterizes "normal" triglyceride levels as lower than 150 mg/dL.

Based on the findings of this latest study, "desirable levels of triglycerides are below 180 to 200 mg/dL," said Benn, who is with Copenhagen University Hospital in Denmark.

"Patients should attempt to reach this goal through lifestyle changes [weight loss, reduction of intake of saturated fatty acids, cholesterol, and alcohol, more exercise, and cessation of smoking]," she said.

If that doesn't work, the provider should move to medication, he added. "If triglyceride levels are still above 200 mg/dL after three months," she said, "the patient should be treated with lipid-lowering medication [statin, fibrates, and niacin]."

Feb 22
Research Reveals New Facts on Behavior Problems
A research study into the misbehavior of children shows that "callous-unemotional [CU] traits" displayed at the age of seven resulted in continuing problems even at a later age.

The study was directed by psychologist Nathalie Fontaine of Indiana University in Bloomington and involved 9,578 children who were born in England and Wales from 1994 to 1996. Teacher and parent evaluations of behavior problems and callous-unemotional traits at ages 7, 9 and 12 were used.

The study revealed that 4.4 per cent of the children showed severe misbehavior and callous-unemotional traits all throughout the period of the study. It was remarkable that this entire group came from disorganized families where harsh punishment for a misdemeanor was the norm. The children, mostly boys, were also hyperactive and had a poor rapport with their peers.

Fontaine, speaking at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington D.C. remarked that callous-unemotional traits should be included in the definition of severe childhood conduct disorder in the next published edition of psychiatric disorders.

Adrian Raine, a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, in another study concluded that 3-year-olds who do not fear impending punishments commit criminal offenses at much higher rates than others in their twenties. Lack of fear is a distinguishing feature among callous-unemotional traits as well as showing no remorse or regret for the wrong committed.

Although it has been established that 5 to 10 percent of schoolchildren continue in antisocial behaviors such as fighting, lying and stealing, more research needs to be done on what makes children who grow out of this pattern different from those who continue in wrong behavior. Longer studies are needed to evaluate whether becoming psychopaths is the future that children with high levels of callous-unemotional traits face.

Right now what may help parents, teachers and other adults who interact with these children is the fact that they respond best to rewards for good behavior rather than punishment for their wrongs.

Feb 21
Asthma Linked To Species of Bacteria: Study
A new study has found that asthma may have a surprising link with the composition of the species of bacteria that inhabit bronchial airways. This finding could help the researchers in discovering a new treatment or even potential cures for the common inflammatory disease.

The new detection methods used in this study has helped the researchers in finding that the diversity of microbes inside the respiratory tract is more vast than previously suspected. This diversity creates complex and inter-connected microbial neighborhood that appears to be associated with asthma.

MD, Homer Boushey, a UCSF Professor of medicine in the division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine and co-author of the study says that most of the people believes that asthma was caused by inhalation of allergens but this study shows that it may be more complicated than that and asthma may involve colonization of the airways by multiple bacteria.

It was a three-year project in which samples from the airway linings of 65 adults with mild to moderate asthma were collected in addition to the samples of 10 healthy adults. Using a tool, scientists have found that bronchial airway samples from asthmatic patients contained far more bacteria than samples from healthy patients.

Feb 21
Caffeine energizes boys more than girls--study
As per the researchers of a new study, young generation today is increasingly getting hooked on to caffeine, found in tea, coffee, soft drinks, and energy drinks, and the stimulant influences boys more strongly than girls.

Interestingly, boys reported that caffeine consumption not just boosted their energy levels but also positively affected their athletic performance while girls reported no such thing.

While commenting on the study findings, lead researcher Jennifer L. Temple, neurobiologist and assistant professor of nutrition sciences at the University at Buffalo, US, said in her press statement, "Caffeine is known to increase blood pressure, but the fact that it caused an exaggerated response in high-consuming males was a surprise, since at the time of measurement the amount of caffeine consumed by boys and girls was the same."

Temple added that it was imperative for them to understand the effects of caffeine on younger generation as they are "the fastest-growing consumers of caffeine" and yet no study has been done to find out its effects on adolescents.

About research
To arrive at this conclusion, researchers studied affects of caffeine consumption on 26 boys and 26 girls, aged between 12 to 17 years.

Only those were allowed to participate in the experiment, who had some previous experience with caffeine and had no adverse reactions to it, or were on hormone-based contraceptives, smoking etc.

All the participants were told not to eat anything or drink anything, besides water two hours before the start of experiment, and to abstain from caffeinated drinks 24 hours before the experiment.

In the experiment, each participant was either given 50mg, 100mg, 200mg caffeine in their drinks or none at all. Blood pressure and heart rate was monitored after each experiment.

After analyzing the data collected, researchers found that boys who turned out to be regular/high consumers of caffeine reported greater increase in blood pressure levels.

However, no link between high blood pressure and caffeine was found in girls.

Study findings very useful
Study researchers are hopeful that with the help of findings, they might be able to determine how males and females differ in their vulnerability to drug abuse and treatment.

"Our findings from this study and from our previous study suggest that boys and girls respond differently to caffeine. We are hoping that our findings from our studies on caffeine will help us to determine why males and females differ in susceptibility to drug abuse and respond differently to treatment," concluded Temple.

The study findings recently appeared in the December 2010 issue of the journal 'Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology.'

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