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PostPosted: Fri Mar 02, 2012 6:50 am 
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Sleeping pills linked to cancer, early death

WASHINGTON — A new study suggests that the 6 to 10 percent of Americans who use prescription sleep medications such as zolpidem (Ambien), eszopiclone (Lunesta) and zaleplon (Sonata) are more likely to develop cancer, and far more likely to die prematurely, than those who take no sleep aids.

The increased rates kick in at really low levels too, the study said.

For those prescribed as few as one to 18 sleeping pills in a year, deaths during the new study were more than 31/2 times greater than for those who got no such prescriptions. And for patients who took home the largest number of prescription sleep aids — more than 132 pills per year — the risk of death was five times greater, according to the study, released this week by the medical publication BMJ Open.

The study tracked 10,531 patients from three months to four years.

Studies such as this one do not establish that sleep drugs cause increased cancers and deaths. It’s possible that those who are at greater risk of dying or developing cancer are simply more likely to seek a prescription sleep aid.

To establish such a relationship, clinical trials, comparing subjects taking sleep medications with those taking a sham drug, would be necessary, said co-author Dr. Daniel F. Kripke, a psychiatry professor at the University of California, San Diego.

The study found an increase in cancer among those taking sleep medications that was modest but statistically significant. Compared with patients with no record of taking sleeping pills, those who were the heaviest users of prescription sleep aids were 35 percent more likely to have cancer diagnosed during the study.

http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories ... death.html


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 06, 2012 6:36 am 
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Do women understand breast cancer risk?

BREAST cancer is a leading cause of cancer-related death for Australian women, but just how women regard or manage their risk of getting it is poorly understood. University of Melbourne health sociologist Louise Keogh says the deeper she has delved into the topic, the less sure she's become of how to measure risk perception. On the eve of International Women's Day, she says women's ways of making sense of risk need to be valued and validated in the medical field.

I led a study that aimed to describe breast cancer risk perception and how it is related to screening behaviour. We focused on women who have not had breast cancer yet who are at an increased but unexplained familial risk of breast cancer. They have at least one first-degree or second-degree relative under 50 with breast cancer, but no identified genetic mutation in their family. Quite a lot of research has been done on women for whom a BRCA1 or BRCA2 [gene] mutation has been identified. But … there has been less research with this group.

How many fit that category?

About 300,000 Australian women, or 5 per cent, have a moderate or potentially high risk for breast cancer due to family history with no identified genetic explanation.

What are their chances of getting breast cancer?

Depending on their family history, these women have up to a one-in-three chance of getting breast cancer - which is much higher than the population risk of one-in-11.

How did you go about your study?

We recruited 24 women, aged 35 to 70, from a large population-based family study, the Australian Breast Cancer Family Study, which includes more than 1600 women diagnosed with breast cancer and their relatives. Data collection consisted of audio-recorded, face-to-face, semi-structured interviews.

What did you find?

There was little consistency in how these women regarded their risk and managed it. A woman can consider herself to have a one-in-three chance of getting breast cancer but believe she is not the ''one'' who will get cancer in her family. Whereas another woman may interpret a one-in-three chance to mean that she will definitely die of breast cancer. But overall, the women displayed several different ''risk management styles'' - we identified five groups.

Namely?

The first group said: ''I don't worry about cancer risk, but I do all my breast cancer screening.'' There was a discourse of wanting to be seen to be doing the right amount of worrying - I was very surprised to find that! The second group said they were worried, therefore did something about it - which is what you'd expect.

The third group?

This group I didn't expect to find. They said: ''I'm worried about cancer risk, so why don't I do anything about it?'' Often they'd offer reasons, such as ''I'm slack''.

And the last two groups?

Mathematicians often perceive things in terms of probability, such as a one-in-10 chance. But we know that some lay people think in terms of a binary - either ''I will'' or ''I won't''. We found evidence of this binary thinking in the two final groups: one said getting cancer was inevitable, while the other said it was unlikely. What was interesting, however, is that it didn't predict screening behaviour. Of the women with a fatalistic outlook, some felt screening was still worthwhile.

How are these women seeking support?

Most were relying on mammographic screening, but they can also get MRIs. A family cancer clinic can offer these women an assessment and a tailored risk strategy, but they weren't accessing this service.

Where to next?

The next thing we're looking at is misinformation on risk factors. People tend to focus on risk factors that are not very predictive - factors around diet, alcohol, exercise, stress, toxins, lifestyle … These factors play a marginal role compared to age and family history.

http://www.theage.com.au/national/educa ... z1oHD4VGEG


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 09, 2012 6:44 am 
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Moving Target: Why a Cancer 'Cure' Is So Elusive

In the realm of targeted cancer treatment, Carla Leslie is a success story.

Leslie was diagnosed in September of 2010 with Stage 3C breast cancer, a disease that kills 50 to 60 percent of those who have it within five years. She was treated at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston with chemotherapy plus Herceptin, a drug that targets a specific genetic mutation in certain kinds of breast cancer. The results were remarkable; Leslie is now in remission.

"It was unbelievable, it was truly unbelievable," she said. "My experience with the treatment was beyond anything I could have expected."

Stories like Leslie's are becoming more common. Yet, as any doctor will tell you, even today the prospect of a cure for most kinds cancer is elusive. Doctors have had some success using drugs like Herceptin, which tailor a patient's treatment to their specific genetic makeup. This practice, known as "personalized medicine," is an effective approach in some cases. But the cancers that cannot be treated with these personalized approaches -- in other words, most of them -- are so complex that any simple approach to treating them remains elusive, at least for now.

New research, published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine, reinforced this idea, demonstrating that the tumor cells of a particular kind of cancer can vary not only throughout a particular patient's own body, but even within a single tumor. Each of these different variations of the same kind of cancer cell is known as a mutation, and each of these mutations can be thought of like a target. So while a given treatment might hit some of these targets, others are left unscathed, and the cancer remains.

In this study, researchers took multiple samples of tumors from four patients with a kind of cancer originating in the kidneys called metastatic renal cell carcinoma. By analyzing these samples, they found that cancer cells within a single tumor and at places where the cancer had spread showed a large amount of variation, with 60 percent of tumor mutations not uniformly detected in every part of the tumor. This has implications not only for treatment, but for diagnosis as well. In some cases, the researchers found mutations associated with both good and bad prognosis in different parts of the same tumor.

The variation among tumor cells might actually help cancer to survive and could explain why some cancers become resistant to chemotherapy.

These findings highlight new challenges in the management of cancer and suggest that, in many cases, the idea of "personalized medicine" might be too simplistic for cancer treatment.

"There might be concern that the personalized medicine story has created a false sense of hope," said Dr. Amy Abernethy, director of the Duke Cancer Care Research Program in Durham, N.C. "I don't think that it is false hope, but rather a false sense of the simplicity."

Although this might cast some doubt on gene-specific therapies, most physicians are optimistic that this information will lead to advancements for improved cancer treatments.

http://abcnews.go.com/Health/CancerPrev ... d=15862910


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 10, 2012 7:42 am 
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‘Achilles’ heel of blood clot-buster discovered

Washington: Doctors use drugs that activate plasmin, a powerful blood enzyme that disposes of blot clots, to treat patients who suffer heart attack or stroke.

But until now, the molecular details for these therapeutic effects have never been understood.

Now, a study provides remarkable new insight into how plasmin is produced. This work may lead to more effective clot-busting drugs.

Plasmin is released into the blood in an inactive form called plasminogen. Circulating plasminogen is curled up in a “closed,” activation-resistant form.

In order for plasminogen to be converted to plasmin, it must first undergo a dramatic change in shape and “open” itself up.

“We know that activation of plasminogen is tightly regulated,” explained senior study author, Prof. James Whisstock, from Monash University in Melbourne, Australia.

“However, without knowing the atomic details of the closed form of plasminogen, it is impossible to understand what causes it to change shape and how it is converted to plasmin by plasminogen activators,” Whisstock said.

Researchers from Monash University and the Australian Synchrotron have now solved the long-sought-after atomic structure of closed plasminogen.

“We were very surprised to find that a simple sugar tethered to plasminogen guards access to the site of activation,” said Dr. Tom Caradoc-Davies, from the Australian Synchrotron.

Most remarkably, however, the researchers also found that plasminogen plays a kind of peek-a-boo with the blood clot.

“We found one part of plasminogen seems to be very unstable and transiently opens up a tiny bit. Proteins in the blood clot bind to this ‘Achilles’ heel’ when it is exposed, trapping plasminogen in the open form that can be activated,” explained lead author, Dr. Ruby Law, from Monash University.

“We use plasminogen-activating drugs to treat stroke and other life-threatening disorders associated with blood clots. However, until now, the molecular details for these therapeutic effects have never been understood,” added co-senior author, Paul Coughlin, a clinical hematologist from the Australian Centre for Blood diseases.

“Now, with the structure of plasminogen and an enhanced understanding of how it is converted to plasmin, we finally have a platform to develop new and more effective clot-busting therapeutics,” said Coughlin.

The discovery was recently published by Cell Press in the journal Cell Reports.

http://zeenews.india.com/news/health/di ... 15960.html


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 11, 2012 7:06 am 
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Research offers new hope in cancer fight

A MELBOURNE researcher has unlocked the body's ability to kill cancer cells, paving the way to a treatment without chemotherapy or radiation.

Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre's Jane Oliaro has deciphered the mechanics in how T-cells - the "soldiers" of the immune system - divide to produce "killer" and "memory" cells that track down and kill infected or cancerous cells.

Dr Oliaro's work has been honoured in the top 10 research projects by the National Health and Medical Research Council in its annual awards, recognising her work as among the most important in the country.

Dr Oliaro has for the first time shown T-cells divide into two different daughter cells - "killer" and "memory" cells - which are activated by an "antigen-presenting cell" to start killing a particular infection or cancer.

"The antigen-presenting cell engulfs the bacteria and displays it to the T-cell which tells it there's a foreign pathogen in the body," she said.

"The T-cell gets woken up and starts multiplying cells that are designed to recognise, target and kill any cell with that bacteria inside it. That's why our immune system doesn't deal well with cancer, because cancer arises from our own cells and T-cells are trained not to attack anything that looks like our own cells."

She is investigating the signals that "switch on" T-cells which determine what types of daughter cells are generated in preparation to fight.

"Our immune system does an excellent job about getting rid of infections in general, and we want to apply that knowledge to fighting cancer," Dr Oliaro said.

"If these signals can be artificially recreated, scientists could develop a blueprint to reproduce more killer and memory cells.

"With research it's baby steps, but the more we can learn about this, the more we can manipulate our immune system to produce more killer cells, or more memory cells the body needs to fight cancer without chemotherapy, surgery or radiation therapy."

http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/research- ... 6296018439


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 16, 2012 6:48 am 
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Phone rays harmed unborn mice, study finds

UNBORN mice exposed to mobile phone radiation became hyperactive adults with poor memory, a study has found.

But scientists have been quick to downplay the risk to mobile users, saying the findings cannot be translated to humans.

The Yale University study was prompted by concerns an apparent rise in childhood behavioural disorders such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) coincide with an increased mobile phone use.

Scientists exposed 33 pregnant mice to electromagnetic radiation emitted from a mobile phone on an uninterrupted call for 24 hours and compared their offspring's behaviour with a control group that had not been exposed.

They found mice who had been exposed to radiation in utero did not perform well in a series of memory tests.

Study of the region of the brain responsible for these behaviours found the efficiency of nerve signals had decreased in the mice exposed.

But the authors cautioned against translating the results to unborn humans. Mouse gestation lasts only 19 days and their brain development was incomplete at birth unlike people, the authors noted in the journal Scientific Reports. "Definitive studies in humans are required prior to extrapolating these behavioural findings to humans," they said.

A professor of health psychology from the University of Wollongong, Rodney Croft, said the scientists failed to measure the radiation given off by the phone or the radiation absorbed by the mice, which he said were major limitations of the study.

"We don't know if there was a difference in the amount of radiation between the exposed and the control, and it is quite likely the metal apparatus housing the mice took some of radiation away from the them," Professor Croft, the former executive director of the Australian Centre for Radio Frequency Bioeffects Research, said.

"Nonetheless, should associations be found . . . this would be very important scientifically, particularly as none have been identified to date."

But Professor Katya Rubia, from the Institute of Psychiatry at the King's College London, said linking the behaviour and brain changes of prenatal mobile phone exposure in mice to human ADHD and its increase in society was alarmist and unjustified.

"Some enhancement in motor activity in mice is not translatable to the complex human ADHD behaviour characterised by impulsiveness, inattention and motor activity."

http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/technol ... 1v8dw.html


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 20, 2012 7:31 am 
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Antioxidants May Improve Cancer Drugs, NIH Study Suggests

Antioxidants found in fruits, vegetables and red wine killed cancer cells, including those that are resistant to treatment, in a study that scientists said may lead to more effective tumor fighters.

Researchers from the U.S. National Institutes of Health identified 22 antioxidants that eradicated dividing cells, including two types that showed promise against drug-resistant cancer cells. The study is published online today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Antioxidants, widely used in dietary supplements, are thought to protect cells against a damaging chemical reaction. The study found that antioxidants resveratrol, which is found in red wine, and genistein, found in certain plants, killed rapidly dividing cells and selectively eliminated cancer cells that were resistant to multiple drugs. Antioxidants “are potentially better chemotherapeutic agents than ones currently used,” the researchers said in the paper.

“It’s a much safer chemotherapy agent if it can be developed,” said study author Kyungjae Myung, a senior investigator in the Genetics and Molecular Biology Branch of the National Human Genome Research Institute in Bethesda, Maryland, part of the NIH, in a March 15 telephone interview. “Currently what we’re trying to see is if antioxidants can selectively kill specific cancer cells.”

Three Antioxidants

Resveratrol, genistein and baicalein are currently used or being studied to treat conditions like heart disease and diabetes, as well as anti-aging. Resveratrol, also found in red grapes, blueberries and cranberries, switches on a class of proteins called sirtuins that may prevent gene mutations and repair DNA damage. London-based GlaxoSmithKline Plc (GSK) stopped developing a drug, designed to mimic the health benefits of red wine, in 2010 after the compound didn’t work well enough in cancer patients and may have worsened kidney damage.

More studies are needed before antioxidants can be used to fight cancer in people, Myung said. Antioxidants in high amounts can damage DNA and kill cells, he said.

“The dose that we used for this treatment in a laboratory setting was way higher than you can get from wine or all those antioxidant tablets or you can consume by eating,” said Myung,

Myung said his group is studying to see if antioxidants can kill specific types of cancer cells, including those of the breast and ovary, and if the antioxidants harm just diseased cells or healthy cells too.

http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-0 ... y-suggests


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 23, 2012 6:42 am 
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Clot-busting heart drug a stroke of luck for modern-day Lazaruses

A CLOT-BUSTING drug used to treat heart attacks appears to bring a dramatic increase in the rate of "Lazarus-like" recoveries from severe stroke - in which patients walk out of hospital just a couple of days after arriving paralysed and unable to speak.

Groundbreaking research by Australian doctors has found the drug, tenecteplase, almost doubles the proportion of patients who show significant improvements within 24 hours, and has nearly the same benefit for the rate of those who have a good or excellent recovery 90 days after a stroke.

Nearly two-thirds (64 per cent) of the patients given tenecteplase had big improvements one day later, compared with 36 per cent of patients given the only existing clot-busting stroke drug, alteplase.

Three months after their stroke, 72 per cent of patients given tenecteplase had no serious disability compared with 44 per cent of the alteplase patients. There was also a lower rate of potentially dangerous side-effects such as bleeding on the brain.

While clot-busting treatment with alteplase caused a sudden, apparently miraculous recovery in about 10 per cent of patients, tenecteplase appeared to achieve this in up to one in three or four.

However, the research, published yesterday in the New England Journal of Medicine, was a small-scale study involving just 75 patients - meaning its results will have to be confirmed in larger trials before tenecteplase becomes more widely available.

Tenecteplase, which costs about $2500 a dose, has been available for about 10 years for heart attack patients, but has never been approved for stroke treatment. It is simpler to administer, being a one-off injection, while alteplase, costing about $2000 a dose, requires a smaller initial jab followed by an hour-long infusion.

The study was carried out by doctors from the John Hunter Hospital in Newcastle, the Royal Melbourne Hospital and Box Hill Hospital in Melbourne, with funding from the National Health and Medical Research Council.

Independent expert Richard Lindley, chairman of the National Stroke Foundation's clinical council, said the paper was "a great success for Australian medicine".

"The caveats are that the patients in this study were very carefully selected. They were high-risk patients with severe strokes, and scans showed they had areas of salvageable brain and a blocked blood vessel," Professor Lindley said.

"We are not going to switch to tenecteplase overnight . . . we would like to see larger trials in a wider range of patients treated in a wider range of hospitals, with more realistic selection criteria."

One patient glad to have received tenecteplase in the trial is Crystal Fitzgibbon, who was rushed to the John Hunter two years ago after a severe stroke and collapsing at home at the age of 26.

Paralysed down her right side and unable to speak, she had a CT scan within minutes of arrival, and was treated with tenecteplase.

"Everyone was amazed at how quickly I recovered - three days after having my stroke, I walked out of the John Hunter Hospital . . . I have no side-effects at all," she said. "They have told me many times I am definitely a success story."

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/he ... 6307682068


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 24, 2012 6:56 am 
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New therapy may help ovarian cancer patients

AN Australian drug developer will in coming months begin recruiting 120 women with ovarian cancer for a clinical trial of a new therapy.

The incidence of ovarian cancer is growing, with 1272 cases diagnosed in 2008 and an estimate of nearly 1500 new cases expected by 2015, according to biotechnology company Bionomics.

Between 1982 and 2006, the number of ovarian cancer cases in Australia increased by 47 per cent.

"Despite modest improvements in patient outcomes as a result of surgery or platinum-based chemotherapy, the majority of ovarian cancer patients relapse and die of their disease,'' Bionomics chief executive Deborah Rathjen said.

Dr Rathjen said it was feasible that the therapy, known as BNC105, would be available as a mainstream treatment within five years.

"In settings where there is a clinical need for new treatment to improve on conventional treatments, drugs tend to be fast-tracked through the regulatory process to get them on to pharmacy shelves as soon as possible,'' she said.

The new drug works by cutting off the blood supply to solid tumours, causing them to shrink instead of spreading.

Ovarian cancer is the seventh leading cause of cancer-related death among Australian women. It is often diagnosed at an advanced stage after the cancer has spread beyond the ovary.

The global market for ovarian cancer treatments is estimated at more than $3.6 billion a year.

Bionomics said pre-clinical trial results showed that all solid tumours, including breast, prostate and lung cancers, responded to the effects of BNC105 on their blood vessels.

The therapy works only on blood vessels feeding tumours and not healthy parts of the body. It does not work on blood-borne cancers such as leukaemia.

BNC105 has already been proven to be safe for humans in clinical trials to treat renal and asbestos-related cancers.

Phase 2 testing of the treatment in ovarian cancer patients, which has been approved by health authorities to start before mid-year, will use BNC105 in combination with two existing cancer therapies.

Tests in mice have shown that BNC105 is vastly more effective when used in combination with chemotherapy, whereas chemotherapy on its own is much less successful.

BNC105 on its own is only about half as effective in the mice as when it is used with chemotherapy and 33 per cent more effective than chemotherapy on its own.

http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/new-th ... 6308276041


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 31, 2012 7:13 am 
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Study suggests sugar not cause of obesity

Sydney University nutritionist Jennie Brand-Miller holds out a tempting message for sweet tooths and companies like Coca-Cola: sugar is not to blame for obesity in Australia.

The Australian Paradox is the title of a scientific paper Professor Brand-Miller and Australian Diabetes Council research adviser Alan Barclay wrote which seeks to show that while obesity rates continued to swell, refined sugar consumption has fallen in recent years.

Mainstream nutrition experts have distanced themselves from the finding but the food industry and Coca-Cola have seized on the study to oppose tougher advice against sugar in Australia's diet bible.

The Australian Dietary Guidelines, currently being finalised, are the subject of intense pressure from food companies urging a good word for their product. The guidelines will be released later this year.

Public health advocates are uneasy at the way the food industry, and particularly the sugar sector, is contesting the concerns about sugar and health.

Queensland Senator Ron Boswell went into bat for the sugar industry in the Senate recently, deploring an article in the influential science journal Nature titled, ''The toxic truth about sugar'', which he said sought to ''demonise'' sugar by comparing it with alcohol.

Professor Brand-Miller was reported as being ''disgusted'' by the Nature article.

In The Australian Paradox, she and Dr Barclay challenge the view linking sugar with obesity, saying the statistics show that in Australia obesity has risen three-fold while consumption of sugar fell by 16 per cent in the 23 years to 2003.

In formal submissions, both the Australian Food and Grocery Council and Coca-Cola cite the paradox study to counter the call in the draft dietary guidelines for a reduction in consumption of sugary food and drink.

The paradox study has drawn a fiercely critical response from economic commentator Rory Robertson, who believes in a fructose-free diet through which he says he shed 10kg over eight months, without extra exercise.

Mr Robertson says the paradox argument relies on misinterpreted statistics, some of which are no longer collected because of unreliability. Professor Brand-Miller responds that Mr Robertson is not a nutritionist and does not understand nutrition. A prominent expert on obesity issues, Boyd Swinburn, has reviewed the arguments from each side and comes out broadly on Mr Robertson's side.

Professor Swinburn said the paradox study's summary of the data as showing ''a consistent and substantial decline in total refined or added sugar by Australians over the past 30 years'' belied the actual data shown ''and is a serious overcall in my opinion''.

''The ecological trends of sugar and obesity are pretty well matched and I do not believe there is any paradox to explain,'' said Professor Swinburn, who, is director of the World Health Organisation Collaborating Centre for Obesity Prevention at Deakin University.

Professor Brand-Miller told Fairfax that the emphasis on sugar in diet was ''overblown'' and not enough attention given to refined starches' role in obesity.

She and Dr Barclay are principals of the Sydney University Glycemic Index Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation which seeks to promote with consumers and food suppliers healthier carbohydrate foods - those that are digested slowly with benefits to blood glucose and insulin levels.

The foundation is associated with low glycemic index (GI) products, including a ''low GI cane sugar'' brand manufactured by CSR.

CSR and other companies pay licence fees for a GI symbol.

http://www.canberratimes.com.au/nationa ... z1qdXvmzP5


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 02, 2012 6:15 am 
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Melanoma Rates On the Rise Among Young Adults: Study

SUNDAY, April 1 (HealthDay News) -- New research highlights a dramatic increase in the rates of melanoma, a potentially fatal form of skin cancer, among young adults, with young women being hit the hardest.

According to the study, the incidence of melanoma increased eightfold among young women and fourfold among young men from 1970 through 2009.

The findings come from a population-based study by Mayo Clinic researchers using records from the Rochester Epidemiology Project, a decades-long database of all patient care in Olmsted County, Minn. The researchers looked for first-time diagnoses of melanoma in patients 18 to 39 from 1970 to 2009.

Dermatologists said these findings mirror what they are seeing in their own practices.

And the study researchers pointed to the rise in the use of indoor tanning beds as one of the main reasons behind the trend, but childhood sunburns and ultraviolet (UV) exposure in adulthood may also contribute to melanoma risk. The findings appear in the April issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

Although the rates of melanoma have increased, the study did show that fewer people are dying from skin cancer. Researchers credit early detection of skin cancer and prompt medical care for the improved survival rates.

"People are now more aware of their skin and of the need to see a doctor when they see changes," Mayo Clinic dermatologist Dr. Jerry Brewer said in a statement. "As a result, many cases may be caught before the cancer advances to a deep melanoma, which is harder to treat."

Dr. Jennifer Stein, an assistant professor at the Ronald O. Perelman department of dermatology at the NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City, said that she is seeing a lot of young people, especially young women, with melanoma.

"Skin cancer awareness is up, and even though there is lots of information about the dangers of tanning beds, people still use them," Stein said.

Other risks for melanoma include a family or personal history of melanoma and large numbers of unusual looking moles. "People who have had a melanoma are at higher risk for having another," she said. "It is important to check your own skin at home and come in to see a skin doctor if you ever see anything you are worried about it."

How can you tell? Look for moles that follow the ABCD rule, said Dr. Alicia Terando, a surgical oncologist at Ohio State University's James Cancer Hospital in Columbus. "'A' stands for asymmetry, meaning that one half of the mole is a different size than the other. 'B' is for border irregularity. 'C' stands for color. Melanomas are often brown, tan and black. The 'D' is for diameter. Most melanomas are greater than 6 millimeters in size. "A melanoma is the mole that stands out," she said. "It's the ugly duckling."

"Prevention is also important," Stein said. "Take precautions when in the sun, including wearing a wide-brimmed hat, sun-protective clothing and applying and reapplying sunscreen that protects against UVA and UVB rays."

Dr. Kavita Mariwalla, director of Mohs and Dermatological Surgery at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City, is concerned about the rising rates of skin cancer in young women.

"People know they should wear sunscreen and should not get burned, but there is a disconnect between that and tanning bed use," Mariwalla said. Tans are also being glamorized on reality shows like "Jersey Shore," she added.

As it stands, 36 states restrict indoor tanning use by minors. California became the first state to prohibit the use of indoor tanning devices for everyone under the age of 18, and many other states are considering such bans, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.

John Overstreet, executive director of the Indoor Tanning Association, a trade group based in Washington, D.C., said that indoor tanning bed use shouldn't be singled out as a cause for the rise in skin cancer rates.

"The study itself has almost nothing to do with indoor tanning and the links they cite to indoor tanning are nothing but speculation," he said. "They attempt to make indoor tanning the story while ignoring other possible risk factors such as sunburning outdoors, sunscreens that for several decades did not block UVA, the more deeply penetrating ultraviolet wavelength, and more frequent travel to sunny vacations locations over the last decade where severe sunburns are more likely to occur."

http://health.usnews.com/health-news/ne ... ults-study


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 05, 2012 6:17 am 
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Alarm sounded on rise of diabetes

AUSTRALIA'S peak diabetes body has called for annual testing of over 40s and a national approach to nutrition classes in schools in a far-reaching plan to halt what it calls a burgeoning pandemic.

Diabetes Australia predicts the number of Australians with the illness to more than double to 3.5 million in the next 20 years unless a new national approach to treatment and prevention is adopted.

Diabetes Australia Victoria chief executive Greg Johnson said an increase that size would overrun the nation's hospital system.

Diabetes is already responsible for 32 per cent of preventable hospital admissions nationwide.

"The current run rate is that about 275 people develop diabetes every day in this country and the current cost to Australia, to our taxpayers and citizens, is at least $6 billion per year," he said.

"Without serious and rapid action on this problem then the cost of diabetes to our community has the potential to cripple our hospital system."

Describing the problem as a burgeoning pandemic, Diabetes Australia on Wednesday launched its election agenda to the federal government ahead of next year's election.

The agenda, divided into three parts, targets the young through early intervention, undiagnosed patients and seeks to minimise complications through co-ordinated care for those already diagnosed.

Mr Johnson said Australians needed more knowledge on the seriousness of the diabetes and the ways the illness can be prevented.

"We need a nationally mandated approach to giving good nutrition education in our schools," he said at the launch of the agenda in Melbourne.

The document also calls for the health system to provide annual testing for anyone aged over 40.

"People can have type two diabetes go undiagnosed for years, that still goes on in Australia and during that time they can be developing complications," Mr Johnson said.

More funding for specialised diabetes centres, and a lift from five to 12 annual allied health visits covered under the Medicare rebate, are also on the agenda.

http://www.heraldsun.com.au/ipad/alarm- ... 6318920646


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 06, 2012 5:48 am 
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Handheld ‘plasma torch' can zap bacteria

A HANDHELD torch-like device can swiftly kill dangerous bacteria, offering a potential boon for emergency workers battling infection risks in wars or disaster zones, scientists say.

The "plasma flashlight" delivers a charged, or ionised, jet of gas to zap germs, a team of researchers in China, Australia and Hong Kong said in a specialised journal.

Hot plasma sterilisers are already used to disinfect surgical instruments, but they are expensive, refrigerator-sized devices that operate at high temperatures.

Sterilisers that operate at cooler temperatures require external power such as a wall electrical supply or a generator, as well as a gas feed, in order to keep working.

But the new device is driven by a 12-volt battery and does not need a gas feed, according to the study, which appears in a British publication, the Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics.

Its inventors say they tested it on a thick mat of Enterococcus faecalis, a germ that is resistant to heat treatment and antibiotics, sometimes causing infections in dental surgery.

"In this study, we chose an extreme example to demonstrate that the plasma flashlight can be very effective even at room temperature," said Ken Ostrikov, from the Plasma Nanoscience Centre in Australia.

"For individual bacteria, the inactivation time could be just tens of seconds."

The goal is a simple gadget that can kill surface bacteria in settings where clean water and medications are scarce.

With technical modifications and economies of scale, the device could be made for less than $100, Prof Ostrikov said.

The plasma in the experiments was measured at between 20C and 23C, which means it is close to room temperature and does not burn the skin.

Why the jet has an anti-bacterial effect is unclear, Britain's Institute of Physics, which publishes the journal, said.

It could be that there is a reaction between the plasma and the surrounding area which creates types of oxygen molecules to which E. faecalis germs are especially vulnerable.

The invention is one of several prototypes aimed at placing easy-to-use cold-plasma sterilisers in the hands of medical workers and even consumers.

Last year, the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Germany said a similar flashlight-shaped device, tested in a laboratory, destroyed samples of a notorious food bug - the O104:H4 strain of Escherichia coli.

http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/breaki ... 6320062416


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 07, 2012 6:42 am 
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How morphine works discovered

Scientists claim to have made a major discovery that could lead to more effective treatment of severe pain using morphine -- an important pain relief drug.

Use of morphine can lead to a range of side-effects such as patients developing tolerance to morphine and increased sensitivity to pain. Until now, how this occurs has remained a mystery.

Now, an team from the University of Colorado in the US and the University of Adelaide in Australia has shown for the first time how opioid drugs, such as morphine, create an inflammatory response in the brain -- by activating an immune receptor in the brain.

They have also demonstrated how this brain immune receptor can be blocked, laying the groundwork for the development of new therapeutic drugs that improve the effectiveness of morphine while reducing many of its problematic side effects.

“Because morphine is considered to be such an important drug in the management of moderate to severe pain in patients right around the world, we believe these results will have far-reaching benefits,” said lead author Dr Mark Hutchinson.

The team conducted studies in mice to validate the work done at the University of Colorado by the teams of Professor Hubert Yin and Professor Linda Watkins.

“For some time it's been assumed that the inflammatory response from morphine was being caused via the classical opioid receptors.

“We, however, found instead that morphine binds to an immune receptor complex called toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4), and importantly this occurs in a very similar way to how this receptor detects bacteria.

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/how-m ... ed/933416/


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2012 6:31 am 
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Bikers raise funds for The Gateway For Cancer Research

Live, Love and Ride…that's the slogan on BikerMonkey's blog post. If only life was truly that simple. Cancer affects virtually every family in some way… loved ones, friends, neighbors and coworkers. And like so many American's, one member of Brent Walters' (aka BikerMonkey) family has cancer. So, Brent and his wife have set up a fundraiser to raise money for cancer research—The 'Extreme Ride for Extreme Cancer Research SaddleSore/BunBurner/BunBurner Gold,' which will benefit The Gateway for Cancer ResearchSM, a nonprofit organization that funds innovative research focused on helping today's cancer patients feel better, live longer and be cured.

“I'm proud of the cancer research that The Gateway funds. We're funding leading edge clinical trials that aim to positively impacting the lives of cancer patients at the earliest opportunity.”

"We chose The Gateway for Cancer Research for two reasons," said Brent. "First, 99 cents of every dollar they receive goes to fund cancer research. That is significantly more than any other major cancer charity. I'm a CFO from 8:00 am until 5:00 pm, so I know those numbers have a lot of meaning. The second reason we chose The Gateway for Cancer Research is that The Gateway funds innovative cancer research for people and not mice … phase I and phase II human clinical trials… for better treatments and hopefully, cures for cancer patients today. If we are going to find a cure for cancer, then we need to focus our money and attention on cancer research."

http://www.news-medical.net/news/201204 ... earch.aspx


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