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This herbal combo packs powerful punch against colon cancer

Sat, 07/23/2016 - 04:43

Washington D. C, Jul 23 : A team of researchers may have found a herbal way to fight off colon cancer.

The Saint Louis University scientists showed that a combination of two plant compounds that have medicinal properties - curcumin and silymarin - holds promise in treating the disease.

Curcumin is the active ingredient in the spice turmeric, which is present in spicy curry dishes, and silymarin is a component of milk thistle, which has been used to treat liver disease.

The researchers and their students studied a line of colon cancer cells in a laboratory model. They found treating the cells initially with curcumin, then with silymarin was more effective in fighting cancer than treating the cells with either phytochemical alone, said corresponding author Uthayashanker Ezekiel.

"The combination of phytochemicals inhibited colon cancer cells from multiplying and spreading. In addition, when the colon cancer cells were pre-exposed to curcumin and then treated with silymarin, the cells underwent a high amount of cell death," he noted, adding "Phytochemicals may offer alternate therapeutic approaches to cancer treatments and avoid toxicity problems and side effects that chemotherapy can cause."

Scientists next would need to study how the curcumin and silymarin impact the actions of molecules, such as genetic transcription and expression, that cause cells to change, Ezekiel said. Then the compounds would be studied in an animal model, then in humans.

The study appears in the Journal of Cancer. (ANI)

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Simple 'talk therapy' can help cut cost of curing the blues

Sat, 07/23/2016 - 04:30

Washington D. C, Jul 23 : A new study has suggested that a simple and inexpensive psychotherapy or talking therapy, known as behavioural activation (BA), treats depression in adults just as well as the gold-standard cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).

With long waiting lists and limited access to services, many people who need CBT for depression cannot get treatment. The study suggests that behavioural activation therapy could be delivered by junior mental health workers, leading to considerable savings for the NHS and other health services.

"Our findings challenge the dominance of CBT as the leading evidence-based psychological therapy for depression," said lead author David Richards from the University of Exeter, UK. "Behavioural activation should be a front- line treatment for depression in the UK and has enormous potential to improve reach and access to psychological therapy worldwide."

The Cost and Outcome of Behavioural Activation versus Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Depression (COBRA) trial recruited 440 adults with depression from primary care and psychological therapy services in three areas of England. Participants were randomly assigned to receive either a maximum of 20 sessions of behavioural activation treatment delivered by junior mental health workers (221 participants), or CBT delivered by experienced psychological therapists (219). Between 20-30 percent of participants in each group did not attend the minimum number of 8 therapy sessions or dropped out, a common problem in psychological therapy services, and were not included in the analysis.

"Behavioural activation is an 'outside in' treatment that focuses on helping people with depression to change the way they act. The treatment helps people make the link between their behaviour and their mood. Therapists help people to seek out and experience more positive situations in their lives. The treatment also helps people deal with difficult situations and helps them find alternatives to unhelpful habitual behaviours," explained Richards.

He added, "In contrast, CBT is an 'inside out' treatment where therapists focus on the way a person thinks. Therapists help people to identify and challenge their thoughts and beliefs about themselves, the world, and their future. CBT helps people to identify and modify negative thoughts and the beliefs that give rise to them."

According to Professor Richards, "Our findings indicate that health services worldwide, both rich and poor, could reduce the need for costly professional training and infrastructure, reduce waiting times, and increase the availability of psychological therapies. However, more work still needs to be done to find ways to effectively treat up to a third of people with depression who do not respond to CBT or behavioural activation."

The study is published in The Lancet. (ANI)

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With menopause reversal, women can get more fertile years

Fri, 07/22/2016 - 06:27

London, Jul 22 : For those who thought their childbearing years were over, there's a good news - a team of researchers has found a way to keep you going even after menopause.

The team claimed that the technique, wherein periods are restarted by rejuvenating ovaries to release fertile eggs, even worked on a woman who had not menstruated in five years, the Mirror reported.

Scientists were successful in fertilising her two eggs using her husband's sperm. Now, the embryos are on ice before they are implanted in her uterus.

Another 30 women who want children have had the treatment, which is said to have worked in two-thirds of cases.

Gynaecologist Konstantinos Sfakianoudis from the Greek fertility clinic Genesis Athens said: "It offers a window of hope that menopausal women will be able to get pregnant using their own genetic material."

The team found ovaries can be restarted with a blood treatment used to help wounds heal faster called Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) which helps trigger growth of tissue and blood vessels.

When injected into older ovaries it was found to restart menstrual cycles, allowing the team to collect and fertilise eggs released, according to the New Scientist.

Roger Sturmey at Hull York Medical School in the UK said: "It is potentially quite exciting. But it also opens up ethical questions over what the upper age limit of mothers should be. Where would the line be drawn?" (ANI)

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How kicking that cigarette butt can be good for your liver

Fri, 07/22/2016 - 05:09

Washington D. C, Jul 22 : People, who are trying to kick their smoking habits, tend to drink less alcohol, a recent research has found.

In England, people who attempted to stop smoking within the last week reported lower levels of alcohol consumption, were less likely to binge drink, and were more likely to be classified as 'light drinkers' (having a low alcohol risk) compared with those who did not attempt to stop smoking.

Lead author Jamie Brown, from University College London, England, said: "These results go against the commonly held view that people who stop smoking tend to drink more to compensate. It's possible that they are heeding advice to try to avoid alcohol because of its link to relapse."

The study involved household surveys, where a total of 6,287 out of 31,878 people reported smoking between March 2014 and September 2015. Of these, 144 had begun an attempt to quit smoking in the week before the survey. The respondents completed the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test consumption questionnaire (Audit-C). The data were a cross sectional representation of the population of adults in England.

The researchers looked at the association among smokers in England between a recent attempt to quit smoking and alcohol consumption. They identified smokers as light or heavy drinkers (light was indicated with an Audit-C score below 5 and heavy was indicated with an Audit-C score greater than 5) and analysed their recent attempt to stop smoking (identified by those who had attempted to quit in the last week with those who had not) and a current attempt to cut down on their drinking.

This was an observational study which means that it cannot demonstrate cause and effect. It may be that smokers choose to restrict their alcohol consumption when attempting to quit smoking to reduce the chance of relapse. Alternatively, it could be that people who drink less are more likely to quit smoking. If this is the case, smokers with higher alcohol consumption may need further encouragement to quit smoking.

Jamie Brown adds: "We can't yet determine the direction of causality. Further research is needed to disentangle whether attempts to quit smoking precede attempts to restrict alcohol consumption or vice versa. We'd also need to rule out other factors which make both more likely. Such as the diagnosis of a health problem causing attempts to cut down on both drinking and smoking."

The study appears in the open access journal BMC Public Health. (ANI)

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Screenings may help oldies ward off cervical cancer

Thu, 07/21/2016 - 09:34

Washington D. C, Jul 21 : Pap smear screenings may sound terrifying, but it turns out, the brief discomfort of lying back and baring all for a stranger can actually be worth a life.

A new study from the University of Illinois confirmed a link between Pap smear screenings and a lower risk of developing cervical cancer in women over age 65. However, most American health guidelines discourage women in that age range from receiving screenings unless they have pre-existing risk factors.

"Some studies report that Pap smears are unnecessary in older age, while others show that there is a benefit in the over-65 age group," said cancer epidemiologist Karin Rosenblatt, adding: "There's been a great debate about it."

Early research on cervical cancer screenings recommended not testing women over age 50. This suggested age cutoff for screening was increased in recent years as the disease and risk factors are better understood.

"While the incidence of cervical cancer is greater in adult women under the age of 65 years, those over 65 tend to have more fatal cases of the disease," Rosenblatt said.

When detected early - often via a Pap test - pre-malignant cervical cancer tissue can be removed or treated so it does not progress into malignant cancer.

The team looked at Medicare billing data from 1991-99 and extracted information for more than 1,200 women who had been recently diagnosed with cervical cancer. The researchers compared their screening histories with those of more than 10,000 control patients who had no cancer diagnosis and were matched on age and geographic location. The team determined which of the patients had received a Pap test two to seven years prior to diagnosis. The results were adjusted for race and income in the regions where the subjects lived.

"We found that the newly diagnosed cervical cancer group was 36 percent less likely to have had a Pap smear, compared with the control group," Rosenblatt said. "The reduction in risk was 52 percent after taking into account women in the control group who may have had hysterectomies before age 65. Both of these results were statistically significant."

These results suggest that Pap tests may be beneficial for preventing malignant cervical cancer in women over 65, she said.

The findings are published in the journal Gynecologic Oncology. (ANI)

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Twitter can help spread the word on healthcare

Thu, 07/21/2016 - 09:18

Washington D.C, Jul 21 : A new study has shown the power of Twitter for sharing the physician-generated medical news.

Over a 1-year period, academic cardiovascular physicians at the Mayo Clinic used a new Twitter account to share medical news and gained more than 1,200 followers, with tweets of original journal content garnering the greatest response.

In the article 'An Academic Healthcare Twitter Account: The Mayo Clinic Experience,' R. Jay Widmer and coauthors presented data describing the gender and geographic distribution of their Twitter account's followers.
The authors analysed the number of retweets, replies, favorites, engagements, and other interactions for their account using Sprinkler and Twitter Analytics.

A survey of the participating Mayo Clinic cardiologists completed before initiating the Twitter account showed that less than 25 percent felt connected to colleagues outside their own institution, and nearly 85 percent viewed social media as a deterrent to productivity and a distraction at work.

"As clinicians become more web-savvy, Twitter may serve a useful purpose to suggest interesting, relevant articles and conferences to those who struggle with time constraints," said Editor-in-Chief Brenda K. Wiederhold.

The article appears in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking. (ANI)

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Soon, a 'needle-free' vaccine for STI Chlamydia

Wed, 07/20/2016 - 10:24

Washington D.C, Jul 20 : World's first vaccine for an insidious sexual transmitted infection (STI) has come closer to reality in the form of a nose spray.

Researchers at the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research at McMaster have developed the first widely protective vaccine against chlamydia, a common STI that is mostly asymptomatic but impacts 113 million people around the world each year and can result in infertility.

In a study, the team showed that a novel chlamydial antigen known as BD584 is a potential vaccine candidate for the most common species of chlamydia known as Chlamydia trachomatis.

As most C. trachomatis infections are asymptomatic, chlamydia can often go untreated and lead to upper genital tract infections, pelvic inflammatory disease, and infertility. This is why the promise of a vaccine would be extremely beneficial, said co-author David Bulir.

"Vaccine development efforts in the past three decades have been unproductive and there is no vaccine approved for use in humans," said Bulir, adding "Vaccination would be the best way to way to prevent a chlamydia infection and this study has identified important new antigens which could be used as part of a vaccine to prevent or eliminate the damaging reproductive consequences of untreated infections."

BD584 was able to reduce chlamydial shedding, a symptom of C. trachomatis, by 95 per cent. The antigen also decreased hydrosalpinx, another C. trachomatis symptom, which involves fallopian tubes being blocked with serous fluids, by 87.5 percent.

The results look very promising, said senior author James Mahony.

Co-author and McMaster PhD student, Steven Liang, explains, "not only is the vaccine effective, it also has the potential to be widely protective against all C. trachomatis strains, including those that cause trachoma."

"The vaccine would be administered through the nose. This is easy and painless and does not require highly trained health professionals to administer, and that makes it an inexpensive solution for developing nations," he said.

The next step is more testing for effectiveness against different strains of Chlamydia and in different formulations. The study was funded by the Canadian Institutes for Health Research. The study is published in the journal Vaccine. (ANI)

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New HIV infections stagnating globally at 2.5 million per year

Wed, 07/20/2016 - 10:24

Washington D. C, Jul 20 : Deaths from HIV/AIDS may have been steadily declining from a peak in 2005, but that doesn't mean the disease rates are going down.

A major new analysis from the Global Burden of Disease 2015 (GBD 2015) study, 2.5 million people worldwide became newly infected with HIV in 2015, a number that hasn't changed substantially in the past 10 years.

The new GBD estimates show a slow pace of decline in new HIV infections worldwide, with a drop of just 0.7 percent a year between 2005 and 2015 compared to the fall of 2.7 percent a year between 1997 and 2005.

Improvements and updates in GBD's data sources and methodology indicate that the number of people living with HIV has been increasing steadily from 27.96 million in 2000 to 38.8 million in 2015. Annual deaths from HIV/AIDS have been declining at a steady pace from a peak of 1.8 million in 2005, to 1.2 million in 2015, partly due to the scale-up of antiretroviral therapy (ART).

Furthermore, the proportion of people living with HIV on ART increased rapidly between 2005 and 2015 from 6.4 percent to 38.6 percent for men and from 3.3 percent to 42.4 percent for women. Yet, most countries are still far from achieving the UNAIDS 90-90-90 target of 81 percent by 2020.

While the annual number of new infections has decreased since its peak at 3.3 million per year in 1997, it has stayed relatively constant at around an estimated 2.5 million a year worldwide for the past decade.

"Although scale-up of antiretroviral therapy and measures to prevent mother-to-child transmission have had a huge impact on saving lives, our new findings present a worrying picture of slow progress in reducing new HIV infections over the past 10 years", said lead author Dr Haidong Wang from the University of Washington.

"Development assistance for HIV/AIDS is stagnating and health resources in many low-income countries are expected to plateau over the next 15 years. Therefore, a massive scale-up of efforts from governments and international agencies will be required to meet the estimated $36 billion needed every year to realise the goal of ending AIDS by 2030, along with better detection and treatment programmes and improving the affordability of antiretroviral drugs," said Professor Christopher Murray.

The findings come from a comprehensive new analysis of HIV incidence, prevalence, deaths and coverage of antiretroviral therapy (ART) at the global, regional, and national level for 195 countries between 1980 and 2015 (see table 1 for country-by-country data).

Despite years of strong progress in reducing HIV at the global level, success in different countries and regions varies as the HIV epidemic has peaked and declined at different times, and depending on access to, and quality of ART, and other care.

Key regional and country GBD 2015 findings include:

In 2015, 1.8 million of new infections were in sub-Saharan Africa. Outside of Africa, south Asia accounted for 8.5 percent, southeast Asia for 4.7 percent and east Asia for 2.3 percent.

Within Europe, the highest numbers of new infections in 2015 were in Russia, Ukraine, Spain, Portugal, UK, Italy and Germany.

Between 2005 and 2015, 74 countries experienced a rise in age-standardised incidence rates, notably in Indonesia and the Philippines, north Africa and the Middle East, and eastern Europe, but also in some countries in western Europe (Spain and Greece).

In 2015, especially high rates of incidence (new infections in 2015 divided by the total population) were recorded in southern Africa, with more than 1 percent of the population becoming infected with HIV in Botswana, Lesotho, and Swaziland, compared with around 39 per 100000 in Ethiopia and 42 per 100000 in Congo.

In 2015, the highest incidence rates in Europe were in Russia (exceeding 20 per 100000), while Cambodia (above 46 per 100000) had the highest rates in Asia. In parts of Latin America and the Caribbean (Belize, Guyana, and Haiti), rates exceed 50 per 100000 people.

No country has achieved the UNAIDS 90-90-90 target that 81 percent of people living with HIV should be receiving ART by 2020 yet, Sweden (76 percent), the USA, Netherlands, and Argentina (all at about 70 percent) are close.

ART coverage is highly variable and massive scale-up of treatment is needed in the Middle East, north Africa, eastern Europe, and east Asia where only around a fifth of people living with HIV receive ART, and in central Asia where treatment reaches less than a third of people with HIV.

Although global HIV mortality has been declining at 5.5 percent a year since the mid-2000s, progress has been mixed between regions and countries. In sub-Saharan Africa, for example, mass scale-up of ART and interventions to prevent mother-to-child transmission have led to huge declines in HIV death rates over the past decade, while in many countries in north Africa and the Middle East like Morocco, Egypt, Iraq, Syria, and Tunisia, progress has been nonexistent.

The study, which was launched at the International AIDS meeting in Durban, South Africa, is published in The Lancet HIV journal. (ANI)

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Order your meal before it's time to eat to cut calories

Wed, 07/20/2016 - 10:08

Washington D.C, Jul 20 : Turns out, cutting your daily intake of calories is as simple as ordering your food just an hour before it's time to eat.

A new study from the University of Pennsylvania and Carnegie Mellon University shows that people choose higher-calorie meals when ordering immediately before eating and lower-calorie meals when ordering an hour or more in advance.

"Our results show that ordering meals when you're already hungry and ready to eat leads to an overall increase in the number of calories ordered, and suggest that by ordering meals in advance, the likelihood of making indulgent purchases is drastically reduced," said lead author Eric M. VanEpps, adding "The implication is that restaurants and other food providers can generate health benefits for their customers by offering the opportunity to place advance orders."

Researchers conducted two field studies examining online lunch orders of 690 employees using an onsite corporate cafeteria, and a third study with 195 university students selecting among catered lunch options. Across all three studies, the researchers noted that meals with higher calorie content were ordered and consumed when there were shorter (or no) waiting periods between ordering and eating.

"These findings provide one more piece of evidence that decisions made in the heat of the moment are not as far-sighted as those made in advance," said senior author George Loewenstein.
He added, "For example, people who plan to practice safe sex often fail to do so when caught up in the act, and people who, in dispassionate moments, recognize the stupidity of road rage nevertheless regularly succumb to it. Unfortunately, pre-commitment strategies are more feasible when it comes to diet than to many other 'hot' behaviors."

The authors suggested future research in the form of longitudinal studies that measure eating decisions over a longer period of time would be useful in addressing this issue.
The study is published in the Journal of Marketing Research. (ANI)

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New drug found to block Zika virus' journey from mum to her fetus

Tue, 07/19/2016 - 09:07

Washington D. C., July 19 : Looks like a way out has been found to prevent Zika virus to travel from a pregnant woman to her fetus.

Zika virus can infect numerous cell types in the human placenta and amniotic sac, according to researchers at UC San Francisco and UC Berkeley.

They also identify a drug that may be able to block it.

The virus has two potential routes to the developing fetus: a placental route established in the first trimester, and a route across the amniotic sac that only becomes available in the second trimester, according to the study.

The study of human tissue in the laboratory found that an older generation antibiotic called duramycin blocked the virus from replicating in cells that are thought to transmit it along both routes.

"Very few viruses reach the fetus during pregnancy and cause birth defects," said researcher Lenore Pereira.

"Understanding how some viruses are able to do this is a very significant question and may be the most essential question for thinking about ways to protect the fetus when the mother gets infected," he added.

Duramycin is an antibiotic that bacteria produce to fight off other bacteria. It is commonly used in animals and is in clinical trials for people with cystic fibrosis.

Recent studies have shown it to be effective in cell culture experiments against dengue and West Nile virus, which are flaviviruses like Zika, as well as filoviruses, like Ebola.

The virus infects several different placental cell types when examined in isolated cells and as intact tissue explants. These include cell types within the placenta and outside the placenta in the fetal membranes. The scientists found that the epithelial cells of the amniotic membrane surrounding the fetus were particularly susceptible to Zika virus infection.

Zika virus also uses other receptors, including Axl and Tyro3, which are found in various placental cells. However, the investigators found that only TIM1 was strongly and consistently expressed in placental cell types throughout gestation.

TIM1 binds to phosphatidylethanolamine (PE), a membrane lipid present in the Zika virus envelope that is also present in dengue, West Nile and Ebola. Duramycin, a 19-amino acid cyclic small molecule, binds to PE in the virion envelope, and by doing so it can block these viruses from latching onto the TIM1 receptor to get into cells.

The scientists found that duramycin blocked infection of all the placental and fetal membrane cell types they tested, including cytotrophoblasts and amniotic epithelial cells, as well as chorionic villus explants. What's more, the infection was substantially blocked at relatively low concentrations of the drug.

The study has been published in Cell Host & Microbe. (ANI)

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Your substance abuse is risking your kid's health

Mon, 07/18/2016 - 08:49

Washington D. C, Jul 18 : Kids, who grow up in a home where one or both parents abuse alcohol or drugs, face an increased risk of medical and behavioral problems, suggests a recent study.

According to the new clinical report by experts at Beth Israel Medical Center (BIDMC) and Boston Children's Hospital, pediatricians are in a unique position to assess risk and intervene to protect children.

"Alcohol misuse and substance use are exceedingly common in this country, and parents' or caregivers' substance use may affect their ability to consistently prioritize their children's basic physical and emotional needs and provide a safe, nurturing environment," said co-author Vincent C. Smith. "Because these children are at risk of suffering physical or emotional harm, pediatricians need to know how to assess a child's risk and to support the family to get the help they need."

In their report, Smith and co-author Celeste R. Wilson reviewed the clinical signs of fetal exposure to alcohol, cannabis, stimulants and opioids. Pediatricians must be increasingly on the lookout for signs of neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS), the irritability, muscle stiffness, diarrhea - even seizures - that can result from prenatal opioid exposure.

An estimated one in five U. S. children grows up in a home in which someone misuses alcohol or has a substance use disorder, the authors wrote. Whether from the toxic effects of exposure to these substances or from the neglect of their basic needs by parents or caretakers struggling with substance use disorders, children in these households commonly experience developmental and educational delays and, later, are at higher risk for mental health and behavioral problems.

They also are more likely than their peers to have substance use disorders themselves later in life.

Citing studies that say children whose parents use drugs and misuse alcohol are three times more likely to be physically, sexually or emotionally abused and four times more likely to be neglected than their peers, the authors urged all pediatricians to include questions about caregivers' substance use as part of the routine family assessment.

Some warning signs of abuse and neglect include: frequent injuries and bruises, especially in clusters or in patterns that could indicate contact with a hand, belt or other instrument; children who are withdrawn, fearful or flinch at sudden movements; a lack dental care or immunization; or ill-fitting, filthy or inappropriate clothing.

The authors provide sample scripts to help clinicians begin a potentially uncomfortable conversation, noting that research suggests parents who screen positive for substance use are open to pediatricians presenting them with follow-up options such as community treatment programs. In the wake of these conversations, caregivers who don't opt for treatment may still achieve some reduction in harm by decreasing or altering their substance use, even if they don't completely abstain, Smith and Wilson noted.

"Pediatricians who identify substance use problems in a family are not expected to solve, manage or treat these issues; rather, they can partner with other professionals to provide families access to resources," write Smith and Wilson. "By screening, pediatricians have the opportunity to make a significant difference in the lives of the entire family affected by substance use."

The study appears in the journal Pediatrics. (ANI)

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A plate full of veggies can shoo your blues

Mon, 07/11/2016 - 09:43

London, Jul 11 : Turns out, finding happiness is as simple as eating your greens!

A new study from the Warwick University suggested that compounds in fruit and vegetables help us have a sunnier outlook on life, the Daily Mail reported.

Researchers asked 12,500 Australians to keep food diaries for up to six years and answer questions on their state of mind.

Andrew Oswald, one of the study team, said that eating eight portions of fruit and vegetables a day could bring as much happiness as an unemployed person getting a job.

"Our study is consistent with the idea that real food is important for the mind," he said. (ANI)

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Concussions in teens more common than you think

Mon, 07/11/2016 - 03:42

Washington D.C, Jul 11 : Just because your child doesn't bend it like Beckham, doesn't mean he is safe from head injuries. According to a recent study, concussions are on the rise for adolescents.

Lead author Alan L. Zhang from the University of California San Francisco Medical Center said, "Our team looked at the administrative health records of more than 8.8 million members of a large private payer insurance group and noted that 32 percent of the individuals diagnosed with concussion were between the ages of 10-19 years old with the largest increase in incidence between 2007 and 2014 in that age group. This is the first study to evaluate trends in concussion diagnoses across the general US population in a variety of age groups."

The highest incidence of concussion was seen in the 15-19 age group (16.5 cases per 1,000 patients) followed by the 10-14 (10.5 per 1,000), 20-24 (5.2 per 1,000) and 5-9 (3.5 per 1,000) age groups. Overall, there was a 60 percent increase in concussion incidence from 2007-2014. The largest increases were in the 10-14 (143 percent) and 15-19 (87 percent) age groups. Fifty-six percent of concussions were diagnosed in the emergency room and 29 percent in a physician's office with the remainder being seen in urgent care or inpatient settings.

Zhang and his team also noted that irrespective of sport, the incidence of concussion in male patients was one and a half times higher than that in female patients.

"The rates at which concussions are rising may in part be due to the rise in youth sports participation and also better diagnostic skills/training for coaches and sports medicine professionals. This trend is alarming however, and the youth population should definitely be prioritized for ongoing work in concussion diagnosis, education, treatment and prevention," said Zhang.

The study appears in American Journal of Sports Medicine. (ANI)

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The longer you live, the healthier you are

Wed, 07/06/2016 - 07:44

Washington D. C, Jul 6 : A new study of centenarians has linked living longer to living healthier.

In the Albert Einstein College of Medicine study of nearly 3,000 people, the onset of illness came decades later in life for centenarians than for their younger counterparts.

"Most people struggle with an ever-increasing burden of disease and disability as they age," said study leader Nir Barzilai, M. D., adding "But we found that those who live exceptionally long lives have the additional benefit of shorter periods of illness - sometimes just weeks or months - before death."

The researchers looked at the health status of centenarians and near-centenarians enrolled in two ongoing studies: the Longevity Genes Project (LGP) and the New England Centenarian Study (NECS).

This study compared the health status of 483 long-lived LGP participants with 696 LGP comparison individuals 60-94 years old and the health status of 1,498 long-lived NECS participants with 302 NECS comparison subjects aged
58-95. For both sets of comparisons, the researchers looked at the ages at which individuals developed five major age-related health problems: cancer, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, osteoporosis and stroke.

Analysis revealed a consistent pattern of delayed onset of illness in the LGP and NECS centenarian groups compared to their respective comparison groups.

For example, for the long-lived NECS individuals, cancer didn't afflict 20 percent of men until age 97 and women until 99. In contrast, 20 percent of NECS comparison participants had developed cancer by age 67 in men and 74 in women. Results were similar for the LGP: for the long-lived LGP participants, the age at which 20 percent had developed cancer was delayed to 96 for both sexes. But cancer had affected 20 percent of LGP control-group males by age 78 and control-group females by 74.

Despite their genetic, social and cultural differences, the long-lived LGP and NECS participants proved markedly similar with respect to major illness: Compared to younger comparison groups, their onset of major age-related disease was delayed, with serious illness essentially compressed into a few years very late in life.

The findings suggest that discoveries made in one group of centenarians can be generalized to diverse populations. And they contradict the notion that the older people get, the sicker they become and the greater the cost of taking care of them.

The study appears in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. (ANI)

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Link between paracetamol, autism risk dismissed

Mon, 07/04/2016 - 04:12

London, Jul 4 : Moms-to-be, you don't have to ditch your painkiller anymore as scientific experts have dismissed claims of a link between paracetamol and autism.

Though a recent study published in the Journal of Epidemiology found that young boys, whose moms took the painkiller while expecting, were more likely to be on the autistic spectrum, the director of science at autism charity Autistica, Dr James Cusack, begged to differ, the Independent reported.

He said: "This paper does not provide sufficient evidence to support the claim that there is a strong association between paracetamol use and the presentation of symptoms of autism. The results presented are preliminary in their nature, and so should not concern families or pregnant women."

The Spanish study recruited 2,644 mother-child pairs in a birth cohort study during pregnancy. The moms were questioned about their use of paracetamol while pregnant. According to the findings, when assessed at age five, exposed children were at higher risk of hyperactivity or impulsivity symptoms.

But exact doses could not be noted due to mothers being unable to recall them exactly, which experts say makes the claims insufficient. "As the authors correctly state, more research, with careful control for other factors is required to understand whether a link exists at all," Dr Cusack said.

He added that there had been "an array of environmental factors which have been associated with autism, only to be rejected later," emphasising the importance of collecting sufficient evidence before making such claims. (ANI)

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Diseased brain blood vessels tied to Alzheimer's

Sun, 07/03/2016 - 04:32

The cause for Alzheimer's disease is still unknown and now, a new study has shed light on the possible triggers of early Alzheimer's disease, linking it to cerebrovascular disease.

Diseased blood vessels in the brain itself, which is commonly found in elderly people, may contribute more significantly to Alzheimer's disease dementia than was previously believed, according to the research from the Rush Alzheimer's Disease Center.

"Cerebral vessel pathology might be an under-recognized risk factor for Alzheimer's disease dementia," the researchers wrote.

The study analyzed medical and pathologic data on 1,143 older individuals who had donated their brains for research upon their deaths, including 478 (42 percent) with Alzheimer's disease dementia.

Analyses of the brains showed that 39 percent of study participants had moderate to severe atherosclerosis, plaques in the larger arteries at the base of the brain obstructing blood flow, and 35 percent had brain arteriolosclerosis, in which there is stiffening or hardening of the smaller artery walls.

The study also found that the worse the brain vessel diseases, the higher the chance of having dementia, which is usually attributed to Alzheimer's disease. The increase was 20 to 30 percent for each level of worsening severity.

The research also showed that atherosclerosis and arteriolosclerosis are associated with lower levels of thinking abilities, including in memory and other thinking skills, and these associations were present in persons with and without dementia.

"Both large and small vessel diseases have effects on dementia and thinking abilities, independently of one another, and independently of the common causes of dementia such as Alzheimer's pathology and strokes," said lead author Zoe Arvanitakis.

The study is published in journal The Lancet Neurology. (ANI)

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Soon, cheap paper-based home test for malaria, cancer

Thu, 06/30/2016 - 06:33

Washington D.C, Jun 30 : In a few years, testing yourself for cancer or malaria could be as easy as testing your blood sugar or taking a home pregnancy test, according to a recent study.

Chemists at the Ohio State University are developing paper strips that detect diseases including cancer and malaria for a cost of 50 cents per strip.

Researcher Abraham Badu-Tawiah explained that the idea is that people could apply a drop of blood to the paper at home and mail it to a laboratory on a regular basis and see a doctor only if the test comes out positive.

The researchers found that the tests were accurate even a month after the blood sample was taken, proving they could work for people living in remote areas.

Badu-Tawiah conceived of the papers as a way to get cheap malaria diagnoses into the hands of people in rural Africa and southeast Asia, where the disease kills hundreds of thousands of people and infects hundreds of millions every year.

He and his colleagues report that the test can be tailored to detect any disease for which the human body produces antibodies, including ovarian cancer and cancer of the large intestine.

The patent-pending technology could bring disease diagnosis to people who need it most--those who don't have regular access to a doctor or can't afford regular in-person visits, Badu-Tawiah said.

"We want to empower people. If you care at all about your health and you have reason to worry about a condition, then you don't want to wait until you get sick to go to the hospital. You could test yourself as often as you want," he said.

The technology resembles today's "lab on a chip" diagnostics, but instead of plastic, the "chip" is made from sheets of plain white paper stuck together with two-sided adhesive tape and run through a typical ink jet printer.

Instead of regular ink, however, the researchers use wax ink to trace the outline of channels and reservoirs on the paper. The wax penetrates the paper and forms a waterproof barrier to capture the blood sample and keep it between layers. One 8.5-by-11-inch sheet of paper can hold dozens of individual tests that can then be cut apart into strips, each a little larger than a postage stamp.

"To get tested, all a person would have to do is put a drop of blood on the paper strip, fold it in half, put it in an envelope and mail it," Badu-Tawiah said.

The technology works differently than other paper-based medical diagnostics like home pregnancy tests, which are coated with enzymes or gold nanoparticles to make the paper change color. Instead, the paper contains small synthetic chemical probes that carry a positive charge. It's these "ionic" probes that allow ultra-sensitive detection by a handheld mass spectrometer.

The university will license the technology to a medical diagnostics company for further development and Badu-Tawiah hopes to be able to test the strips in a clinical setting within three years.

In the meantime, he and his colleagues are working to make the tests more sensitive, so that people could eventually use them non-invasively, with saliva or urine as the test material instead of blood.

The study appears in the Journal of the American Chemical Society. (ANI)

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This $2 portable test rapidly detects Zika in saliva

Thu, 06/30/2016 - 04:58

Washington D.C, Jun 30 : With Zika buzz-bombing Brazil's grandiose Summer Olympics plans, a team of researchers has come up with a new 2 dollar-test that rapidly detects Zika virus in saliva within 40 minutes.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recently announced that there was no need to postpone or move the Olympics due to Zika's presence, but concern over the virus' spread and its link to serious birth defects is far from allayed. Public health experts debate whether WHO made the right call.

But while the discussion continues, scientists are working on new tools to help manage the outbreak. Current gold-standard tests to detect the virus require expensive lab equipment and trained personnel.

Low-cost diagnostic methods have been reported but can't detect low levels of the disease or don't distinguish between Zika and similar viruses such as dengue.

Changchun Liu and colleagues wanted to design a rapid, low-cost and more reliable point-of-care detection test.

To ensure their system would be highly selective for Zika without confusing it with similar viruses, the researchers looked for and found a stretch of genetic code that is nearly identical for 19 different strains of the Zika virus infecting people in the Americas but not in other pathogens.

Then, with materials costing 2 dollars per test, they developed a diagnostic system, which only requires the addition of water to operate.

If the Zika-specific genetic sequence is in a saliva sample, a dye within the system will turn blue within 40 minutes. The test even works if low levels of the sequence are present.

The study appears in journal Analytical Chemistry. (ANI)

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This gene puts you at increased kidney disease risk

Thu, 06/30/2016 - 04:29

Washington D.C, Jun 30 : A new study has linked a gene, which forms part of our body's first line of defence against infection, to an increased risk of a type of kidney disease.

The University of Nottingham study found that the difference in the number of copies of the alpha-defensin genes was a major genetic factor in developing the condition IgA nephropathy, also known as Berger's Disease.

Researcher John Armour said that the observation that variation in the gene numbers for these alpha-defensin genes is strongly correlated with risk of IgA nephropathy creates an interesting puzzle.

He added that the data overwhelmingly support the association, but researchers still don't understand what the connection might be between alpha-defensins and molecular events that cause the kidney problems.

The team looked at genetic variation in more than 1,000 patients with IgA nephropathy, compared with more than 1,000 people without the condition, and found a significant difference in the numbers of alpha-defensin genes between the two groups.

Alpha-defensins are proteins that kill bacteria as part of the innate immune system, our first line of defence against infection.

Although the findings do not immediately suggest new therapies for the disorder, they will improve our chances of identifying those who are most at risk and offer a new line of investigation to understand exactly how the defensin gene copy number variants lead to kidney disease. The team is already undertaking the next stage of research to further develop our knowledge.

The study is published in the journal Science Translational Medicine. (ANI)

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Parsley, dill can save you from cancer

Wed, 06/29/2016 - 04:27

Washington D. C, Jun 29 : You may want to parsley and dill up your food as according to a new study, they can help fight cancer.

Scientists from Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT), the N. D. Zelinsky Institute of Organic Chemistry (RAS), the Institute of Developmental Biology (RAS) and the Institute of Cell Biophysics (RAS) proposed an efficient approach to a novel agents with anticancer activity. A synthesis of these compounds is based on compounds extracted from parsley and dill seeds.

Researcher Alexander Kiselev said that they developed a simple method of producing glaziovianin A and its structural analogs, which inhibit the growth of human tumor cells, using feasible building blocks from nature and added that evaluation of these novel agents in vivo using validated sea urchin embryo assays yielded several promising candidates selectively affecting tubulin dynamics.

The new method is cheaper than the existing ones because it involves cheap widespread materials and also reduces the number of steps in its synthesis and the list of catalysts involved.

In addition, the team synthesized a number of structural analogs of glaziovianin A in order to find new antimitotics.

The use of sea urchin embryos was another innovation offered by the team of scientists. The cells of these sea creature embryos divide rapidly in the early stages of development, simulating the way a tumor grows. When the antimitotics were added to the sea urchins' substratum, they started to rotate, making it easy for the researchers to evaluate the effect of new drugs and their side effects.

The results have been published in the Journal of Natural Products. (ANI)

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