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Mar 29
How good sleep can help chronic pain sufferers
Researchers have suggested that chronic pain sufferers could be kept physically active by improving the quality of their sleep.

The study found that sleep was a worthy target for treating chronic pain and not only as an answer to pain-related insomnia.

Study lead-author Dr Nicole Tang said engaging in physical activity is a key treatment process in pain management. Very often, clinicians would prescribe exercise classes, physiotherapy, walking and cycling programmes as part of the treatment, but who would like to engage in these activities when they feel like a zombie?

Dr Tang and study co-author Dr Adam Sanborn examined the day-to-day association between night-time sleep and daytime physical activity in chronic pain patients.

Tang said that many of the patients struggled to stay physically active after the onset of pain and we found that chronic pain patients spontaneously engaged in more physical activity following a better night of sleep.

She said that the research points to sleep as not only an answer to pain-related insomnia but also as a novel method to keep sufferers physically active, opening a new avenue for improving the quality of life of chronic pain sufferers .

The study saw chronic pain patients wear an accelerometer that measured motor activity to monitor their physical activity round the clock for a week in their usual sleeping and living environment. Additionally, they gave ratings of their sleep quality, pain intensity and mood using a mobile electronic diary every morning on waking.

Researchers used the time-specific data to determine, for individual patients, whether the quality of their sleep had an impact on how physically active they were the following day.

Multilevel models for each of the predictors were fit, and the only reliable predictor of physical activity was sleep quality.

A comparison between multilevel models demonstrated that sleep was a better predictor of physical activity than morning ratings of pain intensity or mood.

The study has been published in journal PLOS ONE.

Mar 29
Married people have healthier hearts
Married people have something to smile about! According to a research, it has been claimed that married people, regardless of age, sex, or even cardiovascular risk factors, had significantly less chances of having any kind of cardiovascular disease than those who were single, divorced or widowed.

Married people carry a 5 percent lower risk of having any cardiovascular disease than being single.

But the study holds some bad news for the widowed and divorced people because they aremore likely to suffer from any kind of cardiovascular disease, including peripheral artery disease, cerebrovascular disease, abdominal aortic aneurysm, and coronary artery disease.

The research also found that younger married people, those under age 50, had a 12 percent lower odd of disease than younger single people.

Older couples, between the ages of 51 and 60, had 7 percent reduced risk, while those above 60 had approximately 4 percent lower odds of disease

For risk factors of cardiovascular disease, smoking was highest among divorced people (at 31 percent) and lowest in widowed people (at 22 percent); and obesity was most common in single and divorced people (at 31 percent and 30 percent, respectively). Hypertension, diabetes and being sedentary were most common in widowed people (at 77 percent, 13 percent, and 41 percent respectively.)

Mar 28
When relaxation can trigger migraine headaches
Allowing stress to build up is so dangerous that even relaxation following heightened stress can act as a trigger for migraine attacks, a new research indicates.

"This study demonstrates a striking association between reduction in perceived stress and the occurrence of migraine headaches," said Richard B Lipton, director, Montefiore Headache Center in New York.

To examine what triggers headaches, the researchers conducted a three-month electronic daily diary study which captured 2,011 diary records and 110 eligible migraine attacks in 17 participants.

The study compared levels of stress and reduction in stress as predictors of headache.

"Results were strongest during the first six hours where decline in stress was associated with a nearly five-fold increased risk of migraine onset," Lipton added.

The hormone cortisol, which rises during times of stress and reduces pain, may contribute to the triggering of headache during periods of relaxation.

"This study highlights the importance of stress management and healthy lifestyle habits for people who live with migraine," said Dawn C Buse, director of behavioural medicine at Montefiore Headache Center.

People should attempt to relax during periods of stress rather than allowing a major build up to occur, Buse added.

This could include exercising or attending a yoga class or may be as simple as taking a walk or focusing on one's breath for a few minutes, said the study that appeared in the journal Neurology.

Mar 28
WHO officially declares India polio-free
Indians have another reason to smile as the World Health Organisation (WHO) on Thursday officially declared India as a polio-free nation.

For the record, India has not reported any new case of polio for three consecutive years now.

Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said, "This (southeast Asia) is the fourth region to be certified polio-free. The distant dream of polio eradication in the region is now a reality."

Azad said that resources were never allowed to be a problem for the campaign against polio. "It was an unbelievable operation. It is a significant step towards global eradication of polio."

Apart from India, the other countries which were given polio-free certificates were Bangladesh, Bhutan, North Korea, Thailand, Indonesia, the Maldives and Myanmar.

Mar 27
First stem cell research paves way for new treatments for bipolar disorder
New stem cell research published by scientists from the University of Michigan Medical School, and fueled by the Heinz C. Prechter Bipolar Research Fund, open doors to potential new treatments for bipolar disorder.

The team used skin from people with bipolar disorder to derive the first-ever stem cell lines specific to the condition.

They reported how they transformed the stem cells into neurons, similar to those found in the brain - and compared them to cells derived from people without bipolar disorder.

The comparison revealed very specific differences in how these neurons behave and communicate with each other, and identified striking differences in how the neurons respond to lithium, the most common treatment for bipolar disorder.

It's the first time scientists have directly measured differences in brain cell formation and function between people with bipolar disorder and those without.

The research team, are from the Medical School's Department of Cell and Developmental Biology and Department of Psychiatry, and U-M's Depression Center, used a type of stem cell called induced pluripotent stem cells, or iPSCs.

By taking small samples of skin cells and exposing them to carefully controlled conditions, the team coaxed them to turn into stem cells that held the potential to become any type of cell. With further coaxing, the cells became neurons.

Not only could stem cell research help find new treatments, it may also lead to a way to target treatment to each patient based on their specific profile - and avoid the trial-and-error approach to treatment that leaves many patients with uncontrolled symptoms.

The research is published in the journal Translational Psychiatry.

Mar 27
Peach extract could help restrict breast cancer metastasis
Researchers have shown that treatment with peach extract inhibit breast cancer metastasis.

Texas A and M AgriLife Research Research scientists say that the mixture of phenolic compounds present in the peach extract are responsible for the inhibition of metastasis.

Dr. Luis Cisneros-Zevallos, a food scientist for AgriLife Research in College Station, said that cancer cells were implanted under the skin of mice with an aggressive type of breast cancer cells, the MDA-MB-435, and what we saw was an inhibition of a marker gene in the lungs after a few weeks indicating an inhibition of metastasis when the mice were consuming the peach extract.

He said that furthermore, after determining the dose necessary to see the effects in mice, it was calculated that for humans it would be equivalent to consuming two to three peaches per day.

The study was conducted using the peach variety Rich Lady. However, according to Cisneros-Zevallos, most peach fruit share similar polyphenolic compounds but might differ in content. The study also determined that the underlying mechanism by which peach polyphenols are inhibiting metastasis would be by targeting and modulating the gene expression of metalloproteinases.

The study has been published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry.

Mar 26
Gene linked to deadly breast cancer found
Scientists from Weill Cornell Medical College and Houston Methodist have found that a gene previously unassociated with breast cancer plays a pivotal role in the growth and progression of the triple negative form of the disease.

Their research suggests that targeting the gene may be a new approach to treating the disease.

About 42,000 new cases of triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) are diagnosed in the United States each year, about 20 percent of all breast cancer diagnoses. Patients typically relapse within one to three years of being treated.

Senior author Dr. Laurie H. Glimcher, the Stephen and Suzanne Weiss Dean of Weill Cornell Medical College, wanted to know whether the gene - already understood from her prior work to be a critical regulator of immune and metabolic functions - was important to cancer's ability to adapt and thrive in the oxygen- and nutrient-deprived environments inside of tumors.

Using cells taken from patients' tumors and transplanted into mice, Dr. Glimcher's team found that the gene, XBP1, is especially active in triple negative breast cancer , particularly in the progression of malignant cells and their resurgence after treatment.

"Patients with the triple negative form of breast cancer are those who most desperately need new approaches to treat their disease," Dr. Glimcher, who is also a professor of medicine at Weill Cornell said.

"This pathway was activated in about two-thirds of patients with this type of breast cancer. Now that we better understand how this gene helps tumors proliferate and then return after a patient's initial treatment, we believe we can develop more effective therapies to shrink their growth and delay relapse," the researcher added.

The study is published in the journal Nature.

Mar 26
Address sleep disorders to prevent diabetes, obesity: Study
Scientists have linked inadequate or disturbed sleep to the development of metabolic disorders, including diabetes and type 2 diabetes, in a review that highlights the significance of addressing sleep issues.

Addressing poor quality sleep should be a target for prevention and treatment of these disorders, said authors of the review published in The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology journal.

"Metabolic health in addition to genetic predisposition, is largely dependent on behavioural factors such as dietary habits and physical activity.

"In the past few years, sleep loss as a disorder characterising the 24-hour lifestyle of modern societies has increasingly been shown to represent an additional behavioural factor adversely affecting metabolic health," said the authors.

Addressing some types of sleep disturbance -- such as sleep apnea -- may have a directly beneficial effect on patients' metabolic health, the authors said.

But a far more common problem is people simply not getting enough sleep, particularly due to the increased use of devices such as tablets and portable gaming devices, reported the Science Daily.

According to the authors, "These findings open up new strategies for targeted interventions aimed at the present epidemic of the metabolic syndrome and related diseases.

"Ongoing and future studies will show whether interventions to improve sleep duration and quality can prevent or even reverse adverse metabolic traits. Meanwhile, on the basis of existing evidence, health care professionals can be safely recommended to motivate their patients to enjoy sufficient sleep at the right time of day."

Mar 25
Mindfulness-based meditation could lessen cancer symptoms among teens
Researchers at the University of Montreal, has suggested that mindfulness-based meditation could lessen some symptoms associated with cancer in teens.

Catherine Malboeuf-Hurtubise of the university's Department of Psychology and her team asked 13 adolescents with cancer to complete questionnaires covering mood (positive and negative emotions, anxiety and depression), sleep and quality of life.

The group was divided in two: a first group of eight adolescents were offered eight mindfulness-based meditation sessions and the remaining five adolescents in the control group were put on a wait-list. The eight sessions were 90 minutes long and took place weekly.

After the last meditation session, patients from both groups filled out the same questionnaires a second time.

Differences between both groups were not large enough for the researchers to impute observed benefits solely to the mindfulness component of the sessions.

"The social support provided to the adolescents in the mindfulness group could possibly explain observed benefits on mood and sleep," Malboeuf-Hurtubise said.

"Nonetheless, mindfulness-based interventions for teenagers with cancer appear as a promising option to lighten psychological inconveniences of living with cancer." The researchers intend to offer members of the control group an opportunity to undertake the meditation sessions.

Mar 25
Stress may double woman's risk of infertility
Stress can delay pregnancy and double the risk of infertility in women, scientists have warned.

Researchers found that women with the highest levels of stress biomarkers in their saliva have more problems getting pregnant than other women.

Courtney Denning-Johnson Lynch, director of reproductive epidemiology at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, and colleagues extended their earlier study conducted in the UK that demonstrated an association between high levels of stress and a reduced probability of pregnancy.

The new study found that women with high levels of alpha-amylase - a biological indicator of stress measured in saliva - are 29 per cent less likely to get pregnant each month.

They were also more than twice as likely to meet the clinical definition of infertility (remaining not pregnant despite 12 months of regular unprotected intercourse), compared to women with low levels of this protein enzyme.

The study tracked 501 American women ages 18 to 40 years who were free from known fertility problems and had just started trying to conceive, and followed them for 12 months or until they became pregnant as part of the Longitudinal Investigation of Fertility and the Environment (LIFE) Study.

Saliva samples were collected from participants the morning following enrollment and again the morning following the first day of their first study-observed menstrual cycle.

Specimens were available for 373 women and were measured for the presence of salivary alpha-amylase and cortisol, two biomarkers of stress.

"This is now the second study in which we have demonstrated that women with high levels of the stress biomarker salivary alpha-amylase have a lower probability of becoming pregnant, compared to women with low levels of this biomarker," said Lynch.

"For the first time, we've shown that this effect is potentially clinically meaningful, as it's associated with a greater than two-fold increased risk of infertility among these women," Lynch said.

Lynch said results of this research should encourage women who are experiencing difficulty getting pregnant to consider managing their stress using stress reduction techniques such as yoga, meditation and mindfulness.

However, she said that couples should not blame themselves if they are experiencing fertility problems, as stress is not the only or most important factor involved in a woman's ability to get pregnant.

The study is published in the journal Human Reproduction.