37th Annual Cancer Convention For All Diseases
General public and professionals invited: September 5, 6 & 7 at the Sheraton Universal. Over 50 speakers, 5 movies and 80 exhibits, $40/Day. Tour of Mexican Clinics September 9 & 19, $75/Trip. Nurses and dentists CEU’s available. For programs, doctor referrals and patient lists contact the Cancer Control Society, (323)663-7801. www.cancercontrolsociety.com
Environmental tobacco smoke is associated with a variety of health problems
Children who are regularly exposed to tobacco smoke appear to be at increased risk of developing early emphysema later in life, according to new research. This finding “suggests that a child’s lungs may not recover completely from early tobacco smoke exposure, even if they never smoke themselves. I was surprised that we could detect a difference so many years later,” lead researcher Dr. Gina Lovasi, from Columbia Universitytold Reuters Health.
Environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) is known to be associated with a variety of serious health problems, but it had not previously been associated with the development of emphysema over the life course, according to study results. Although other studies have looked at the long-term effects of early tobacco smoke exposure, the present study “is the first to use CT scans from a large sample of relatively healthy adults to look for emphysema-like patterns and to link those with childhood tobacco smoke exposure,” Lovasi explained.
The results showed that adults who had lived with a regular smoker as a child were much more likely to have evidence on CT scans of early emphysema than their peers without this history.
Specific diet patterns help individuals with diabetes manage their condition
The results of a study suggest that a dose of vinegar taken at bedtime may favorably impact waking glucose concentrations in patients with type 2 diabetes. “Given the importance of maintaining acceptable blood glucose concentrations, there is much interest in identifying foods and diet patterns that will help individuals with diabetes manage their condition,” researchers said.
Researchers examined the effect of vinegar taken at bedtime in four men and seven women (ages 40 to 72 years) with type 2 diabetes who were not taking insulin. The patients measured fasting glucose at 7 a.m. for three consecutive days before the study. They then followed a standardized meal plan for 2 days, consuming either 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar or water at bedtime with 1 oz cheese. After a 3- to 5-day “washout period,” in which they took no vinegar, the subjects crossed over to the alternate bedtime treatment.
The investigators found that the vinegar treatment was especially effective for the six subjects who had a typical fasting glucose greater than 7.2 mmol/L. Fasting glucose in these participants was reduced by 6 percent compared with a reduction of 0.7 percent in those with a typical fasting glucose less than 7.2 mmol/L.
Testosterone Shot Useful for Contraception in Men
Finally, an effective method of birth control for men may be on the way, Chinese researchers report in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. The researchers found that monthly injections of testosterone are a “safe, effective, reversible, and reliable” means of contraception for men. However, the long-term effectiveness and safety of this treatment still needs to be established, they add.Their findings are based on a study of 1,045 healthy fertile Chinese men. “We are satisfied with findings from this study,” Dr. Yiqun Gu told Reuters Health.
“This male hormonal contraceptive regimen may offer a novel and workable alternative to existing family planning options for couples who can not or prefer not to use only female-oriented contraception throughout their reproductive years,” added Gu, who is from the National Research Institute for Family Planning in Beijing. The men in the study were between 20 and 45 years old and had fathered at least one child within the two years prior to enrollment in the study. Their female partners were between 18 and 38 years old and had normal fertility.
The men received monthly testosterone injections for 30 months. During the first 6 months, the men were tested to make sure that the injections had been effective in eliminating or markedly reducing the sperm levels in their semen. Only men with little or no sperm were allowed to continue into next 24 months of the study.
During the follow-up period, nine pregnancies occurred, which translates into a contraceptive failure rate of roughly 1 per 100 men. This rate, Gu said, is “excellent” compared with other contraceptive methods, including condoms and birth control pills.
No serious side effects were noted and after stopping the shots; sperm-making ability returned to normal in all but two men.
The investigators conclude that further study of testosterone injections is warranted to ensure long-term safety. Moreover, refinements are needed to make sure that all men have no sperm production while receiving this contraceptive.
Older adults should begin strengthening exercises by the age of 60
Women in their 80s may not be able to increase their muscle mass by exercising with weights — though their actual muscle function may still improve, a small study suggests.
The study, of six female octogenarians, found that three months of strength training for the thigh muscles did not boost muscle mass as it did for a comparison group of young women.
The findings stand in contrast to those showing that strength training does improve muscle mass in adults in their 70s.
The good news, however, was that the women were able to lift more weight by the study’s end — likely because of improvements in nerve function that made their muscle activity more effi cient.
“The message of the study is that exercise is good for octogenarians, just not as good as we thought it would be,” senior researcher Dr. Scott Trappe said in a written statement.
To get the most benefi t from strengthening exercise, he added, older adults should begin sooner rather than later.
“We should do all we can to educate people to build up the muscle before 80,” Trappe said.
Trappe and his colleagues recommend that older adults begin some form of strengthening exercise by the age of 60.
People who are trying to lose weight may hinder their odds of success by skipping breakfast, according to a new study that found that skipping the first meal of the day biases your brain toward craving high-calorie foods over low-calorie foods.
“When people are fasting — in this case skipping breakfast — this obviously leads to people being hungrier, but it also leads to greater activity in areas of the brain involved in reward,” Dr. Anthony Goldstone from Imperial College London, UK, told The Endocrine Society’s annual meeting in Washington, D.C.
“In addition, we find that when people are fasting they also prefer high-calorie foods to low-calorie foods,” he added.
The findings are based on brain imaging studies performed in 20 non-obese healthy people who were shown pictures of low-calorie foods (salad, vegetables and fish) and high-calorie foods (cake, chocolate, and pizza) and asked to rate how appealing the pictures were after a filling breakfast or after no breakfast at all.
Past studies, Goldstone noted, have shown that people who skip breakfast on a regular basis actually tend to be heavier, tend to get more of their calories from fat, and also tend to gain more weight over the years than those who eat breakfast regularly.
The new study suggests a possible mechanism by which this might occur.
“It may be that when you miss meals, and maybe particularly breakfast, your brain reward system is biased towards these high-calorie foods over the low-calorie foods,” Goldstone said, “and this would be an entirely appropriate response of the body in a defense to try to maintain calorie intake.”
“This may then be an explanation for why people who miss meals in an attempt to lose weight – something that is used by 30 percent to 40 percent of people trying to lose weight – may actually hinder their attempts to lose weight and actually may have an opposite effect and gain weight,” Goldstone said.
These results, he added, support current medical advice to eat a healthy breakfast to prevent weight gain and aid in weight loss.
Ignored cholesterol blamed for heart attacks
Danish researchers said they have found the strongest evidence yet that an often ignored form of cholesterol can cause heart attacks.
They said people with higher levels of a little-understood form of cholesterol called lipoprotein (a), which varies up to a thousand fold from one person to another, were also more likely to have heart attacks.
Statins — taken by millions to cut heart attack and stroke risk — do not affect lipoprotein (a) but the findings may encourage the development of new cholesterol-lowering drugs, said Borge Nordestgaard of Copenhagen University Hospital.
The research, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, showed that people with the highest lipoprotein (a) levels were two to three times more likely to have a heart attack than those with the lowest levels.
“We have shown that lipoprotein (a) is causing heart attacks,” Nordestgaard said in a telephone interview.
Lipoprotein (a) is one of several forms of cholesterol found in the blood, with levels determined almost entirely by genetics.
Statins lower levels of low-density lipoprotein, commonly known as “bad” cholesterol. Top-selling statins include Pfizer’s Lipitor, known chemically as atorvastatin, and AstraZeneca’s Crestor, or rosuvastatin.
“This study may explain why statins don’t work for some people,” Nordestgaard said.
To show the role of lipoprotein (a) role in heart attacks, the Danish team analyzed the genes of 45,000 men and women who gave blood samples for a large national survey starting in 1976, tested their lipoprotein (a) levels and then followed them until 2007.
People with the highest levels of this cholesterol had the most heart attacks, the study found. One certain genetic variation accounted for about a quarter of the cases of high lipoprotein (a).
“Lipoprotein (a) has been around for a long time as a risk factor but people hadn’t taken it too seriously because they didn’t think it caused heart attacks,” Nordestgaard said. “Now we show that, like LDL, it is causing heart attacks.”
One problem is that people have little control over the cholesterol, whose levels can vary up to a thousand-fold among individuals, Nordestgaard added.
Niacin, a vitamin often prescribed generically to lower cholesterol, also lowers lipoprotein (a) levels. It can cause uncomfortable flushing, however. Aspirin can also lower lipoprotein (a) levels.
Merck & Co markets a drug called Tredaptive in Europe that combines niacin with an anti-flushing agent but the drug has been rejected by U.S. health regulators.
Nordestgaard said he hopes the study will spur drugmakers to begin work on a new drug specifically aimed at lipoprotein (a) levels.
Think you’re having a heart attack? Best to reach for a chewable aspirin tablet, researchers say. Chewable aspirin tablets are more quickly and more completely absorbed compared to solid aspirin tablets swallowed whole or chewed, according to a study reported at the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine annual meeting in New Orleans. Chewable aspirin may therefore be best for sudden heart attack, the study team concludes.
Quick Pep Talks Help With Weight Maintenance
Checking in with a nurse every couple of weeks
is just as effective for helping people maintain
weight loss as an intensive and much more
expensive program involving longer sessions
with dieticians and exercise trainers, New
Zealand researchers report. Dr. Jim Mann of the
Edgar National Center for Diabetes Research in
Dunedin and colleagues randomly assigned 200
women who had lost at least 5% of their body
weight to the nurse-led support group or an
Radio Waves Kill Potential Cancer Cells
In a study that could dramatically reduce the
need for surgery to prevent esophageal cancer,
doctors reported last month that they can
signifi cantly cut the risk of a tumor by using
radio waves to scorch suspicious-looking
cells. Barrett’s esophagus, in which repeated
bouts of acid refl ux have caused the cells
just above the entrance to the stomach to
become abnormal, is found in one of every 62
Americans, although most do not have precancerous
Hospitals Brace for Shortage
Makers of medical isotopes used in
scores of diagnostic imaging tests are
scrambling to fi nd new suppliers after
Canadian health offi cials temporarily
closed a nuclear reactor last month that
produces a third of the world’s supply.
Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd shut
down its 50-year-old reactor at Chalk
River, Ontario, after a small leak of
heavy water, used as part of the nuclear
New Institute Will Study Rare Diseases
A unique new institute will look for ways
to treat rare and neglected diseases and
take the fi rst and riskiest steps toward
bringing new drugs to market, health
offi cials said last month. Congress has
provided $24 million a year for fi ve years
to start the Therapeutics for Rare and
Neglected Diseases Program, or TRND
at the National Institutes of Health, acting
NIH director Dr. Raynard Kington told
reporters in a telephone briefing.
Meat Intake Not Linked to Breast Cancer
A large study has found no link between
eating meat — total meat, red meat,
processed meat, or meat cooked at high
temperatures — and the risk of breast
cancer in older women. Some studies
have found that women who eat a lot of
red and processed meat are more likely to
develop breast cancer than other women;
but other studies have found no such
link. Saturated fat, found mainly in animal
products, has been tied to higher breast
cancer risk in some studies, but not in
Down’s syndrome reveals
one key to fighting cancer
People with Down’s syndrome rarely get
most kinds of cancer and researchers
have nailed down one reason why — they
have extra copies of a gene that helps
keep tumors from feeding themselves.
The fi ndings could lead to new treatments
for cancer, and further study of Down’s
patients might reveal more ways to fight
tumors, researchers said.
Vibration exercise is a useful contribution to a healthy lifestyle
Vibrating exercise platforms, which are increasingly found in commercial gyms, may help people lose the particularly harmful deep “hidden” fat that surrounds the abdominal organs and is linked to type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.
“We conclude that it would be good to combine aerobic exercise with whole body vibration in a weight loss program,” study chief Dirk Vissers, a physiotherapist at the Artesis University College and the University of Antwerp in Belgium told Reuters Health.
With whole body vibration training, people do squats, lunges, calf raises, push-ups and sit-ups on a platform that sends mild vibratory impulses through the feet and into the rest of the body. These vibrations make muscles rapidly contract, which builds lean muscle mass. Whole body vibration training is touted as a more effective method of resistance training.
“The biggest surprise,” Vissers told Reuters Health, “was that we saw an effect of vibration exercise training on the visceral adipose tissue, which is the intraabdominal fat that is the most important because it really plays a central role in metabolic syndrome.”
“In my opinion, vibration exercise is a useful contribution to execise, a healthy lifestyle and calorie restriction,” Vissers said.