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PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2012 5:28 am 
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Fertility Drugs' Link to Breast Cancer Hinges on Pregnancy, Study Says

Do fertility drugs affect a woman's risk of developing breast cancer? A new study suggests that the risk hinges on whether they actually help a woman get pregnant.

Scientists have been concerned about the effects of fertility drugs in recent years, citing a possible relationship between the hormones altered by the drugs and those implicated in breast cancer. Studies attempting to pinpoint the link between fertility drugs and cancer risk have varied widely in their conclusions. Some have found a reduction in cancer risk, some an increased risk. Others found no connection at all.

But researchers at the National Institutes of Health found that although the drugs seem to reduce breast cancer risk in young women, the risk goes up when they get pregnant.

Researchers studied pairs of sisters, in total following more than 1,400 women who had been diagnosed with breast cancer before age 50 and more than 1,600 of their sisters who had never had breast cancer. Of these women, 288 reported using ovulation-stimulating fertility drugs, clomiphene citrate and follicle-stimulating hormone, at some point; 141 women reported a pregnancy lasting 10 weeks or more after taking the drugs.

The study found that women who took the drugs and did not get pregnant had a slightly lower risk of developing breast cancer before age 50. Those who took the drugs and reported a pregnancy lasting 10 weeks or more had a slightly increased risk, but that risk was little different than the risk of women who never took fertility drugs at all.

The study was published today in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute and funded in part by Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

Clarice Weinberg, one of the study's authors and the head of biostatistics at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, said those findings suggest that a stimulated pregnancy may be enough to undo the reduction in risk possibly conferred by ovulation-stimulating drugs. But she does not suggest that women should steer clear of fertility drugs for fear of developing breast cancer.

"I don't see the results as any cause for alarm. But everyone needs to manage their risk and be careful," she said.

Dr. Marcelle Cedars, a professor of reproductive endocrinology at the University of California, San Francisco, said the findings are actually encouraging to women who want to take fertility drugs.

"Even in the group at an increased risk after their pregnancy, their risk was not higher than the general public," said Cedars, who was not involved in the study. "If you use fertility drugs, you're not increasing your risk."

The study looked specifically at ovulation-stimulating drugs, which kick a woman's ovaries into hyper-ovulation, causing her body to produce more eggs that could potentially be fertilized. The additional eggs also increase the levels of estrogen in a woman's body, a hormone that has been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer.

In women who have higher levels of eggs and hormones but no pregnancy, the hormone levels eventually fall back down when the woman's body figures out she's not pregnant. But in women who do get pregnant, the multiple eggs keep producing hormones. Weinberg and her colleagues suggest that those higher hormone levels may act on breast tissue that naturally changes during the course of pregnancy.

http://abcnews.go.com/Health/fertility- ... d=16727906


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 10, 2012 5:32 am 
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Protein May Boost Immune System, Keep Flu Away

Everybody knows that a good immune system helps to fight the flu. Now a new animal study, published in the journal PLoS One, found that a synthetic protein called EP67 can activate the immune system and help fight the flu if it is administered within 24 hours of exposure to the virus.

Researchers from San Diego State University and the University of Nebraska Medical Center tested the protein in mice by first infecting them with the flu virus and then giving them a dose of the protein within 24 hours.

Mice normally lose about 20 percent of their body weight when exposed to the flu, but the mice treated with the protein lost an average of only 6 percent. Some didn't lose any weight at all.

Even more important, researchers said that mice infected with a lethal dose of influenza did not die after receiving the protein.

"EP67 can protect from a lethal dose of influenza even when treatment is delayed for a full day after the time of infection," said Joy Phillips, lead author of the study. "This protection is not limited to a single strain of influenza, as is the case for the vaccine, but should protect against all strains of influenza A or influenza B."

Phillips said the protein has not been tested against highly pathogenic strains like the avian H5N1 influenza, but it's possible it would also protect against such strains.

"EP67 should be effective against a wide variety of pathogens," said Phillips. "Since EP67 works by stimulating local innate immunity, it should prove effective against viral, bacterial and fungal diseases."

While the protein requires much more pre-clinical research before it can be expected to be used in real-world application, Phillips said, in the future, it may be used as an emergency therapeutic for emergency workers, family members and close contacts of patients.

"As an emergency therapeutic, EP67 has the potential to protect against a myriad of possible pathogens without needing to first identify any specific organism," said Phillips. "This has significant implications in the fields of global health and bioterrorism, and to the field of veterinary medicine as well."

She recently discovered that EP67 appears to function in mammals, and even chickens.

"Work focused on bioterrorism often stresses protection against human pathogens, but protecting the world food supply is another extremely important concern," Phillips continued.

Nevertheless, the present study only involved mice, and only one strain of influenza, so the research will have to be extended to other species and involve challenges with multiple flu strains before predictions can be made about applications, said Philip Alcabes, professor in the department of allied health at Adelphi University, who was not involved in the study.

"Still, since surveillance and control of flu viruses circulating among many non-human species is very important for enhancing the protection of human health globally, information like this could point the way to further research that might be very useful," said Alcabes.

http://abcnews.go.com/Health/protein-bo ... d=16726552


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 13, 2012 5:21 am 
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Sleeping with bub 'a natural practice'

WARNINGS from two coroners about the dangers of sleeping with infants have hit a wall of opposition, with some experts declaring co-sleeping a normal, natural practice that can be done safely, and vowing to continue spruiking its benefits.

After investigating the deaths of four infants in their parents' beds, Victorian Coroner John Olle described the practice as "inherently dangerous" and found that babies should not share a bed until they were at least six months or ideally a year old.

Yesterday, Tasmanian Coroner Olivia McTaggart echoed Mr Olle's findings, urging parents to put babies to sleep in a cot after finding the death of a three-month-old may have been caused by suffocation in a bed with her mother and two sisters.

That prompted criticism from University of Queensland maternity researchers and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome awareness group SIDS and Kids.

Royal Children's Hospital nursing director Jeanine Young said a blanket warning on co-sleeping would not stop parents doing it but lead to them being less informed about safety issues.

"If we do that, we drive those people underground," said Professor Young, who chairs SIDS and Kids' scientific advisory group. "It's a normal, natural practice and an instinctive practice of many mothers, particularly when infants are unwell."

Mr Olle said health providers should consistently recommend that babies sleep separately and advise parents that smoking and alcohol increased the risk their child could die while co-sleeping.

Professor Young agreed risk factors existed in some cases, making co-sleeping inappropriate, but said good information in other cases could make it safe.

"Ninety per cent of the world's population bed-share in some form," she said. "If you don't have any other risk factors present, there's actually not a lot of evidence to suggest that it is a risk as long as you're putting safety mechanisms in the environment."

UQ's Queensland Centre for Mothers and Babies director Sue Kruske said advising against co-sleeping could cause more harm.

"Prohibiting bed-sharing will actually lead to more harmful practices such as falling asleep with the baby on the couch, which is known to be dangerous."

Australian Medical Association obstetrics spokesperson Gino Pecoraro said having the baby sleeping in the same room in a separate cot eliminated all risk.

Liz Round has always co-slept with baby Ernest, 16 months. The Melbourne mother said she had enjoyed more sleep than other friends with infants because her baby was easier to breastfeed.

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/he ... 6424906568


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 14, 2012 6:23 am 
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Dreaming of a good night's sleep

DO YOU feel rundown or suffer from insomnia? Try these tips to calm the mind and get a quality night's sleep.

(Q) I feel run down and am also a terrible sleeper. It feels like I could get on top of things if only I could sleep well. Any suggestions?

(A) A good night's sleep is powerful medicine. Insomnia impacts on all aspects of health.

Poor sleeping patterns can exacerbate depression, anxiety, bowel problems and lowered immunity.

A busy mind is the enemy of sleep and disciplining wayward thoughts is easier said than done. This is where distraction comes to the fore. If you are rurally inclined, sheep counting is still in vogue. You can also try listening to a guided meditation CD or app in bed.

Our deepest sleep, in the early hours of the morning, is also when the body reaches its lowest temperature. Having a warm bath or shower before bed not only relaxes tense muscles, it heats the body. This results in our internal thermostat trying to lower our basal temperature and lulling the body into believing it should be deeply asleep.

You can also try belly breathing as it switches on the parasympathetic (or calming) nervous system, as opposed to the sympathetic (fight-or-flight) nervous system. Place hands palms down on your lower belly.

Breathe in and out through your nose, counting slowly to three or four. Feel your stomach rise with the breath. Breathe out just as slowly, allowing the belly to drop.

Herbal remedies are good for sleep. Valerian, hops, passionflower, Californian poppy, or a combination of the above, are all effective. If you have difficulties getting to sleep, take one dose at dinner and another as you go to bed. If staying asleep is an issue, take a double dose at bedtime. Kava is another quick-acting herb. Keep a tablet by the bed and take it if you wake during the night.

Insomnia and restless sleep tends to be a pattern. Something might initiate this pattern, such as a newborn baby or a stressful job. However, even when these issues are resolved, poor sleep can continue. This is why, when you find the right remedy, keep taking (or doing) it, night after night.

http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/breaki ... 6425894044


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 19, 2012 5:18 am 
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Inactivity 'killing as many as smoking'

A lack of exercise is now causing as many deaths as smoking across the world, a study suggests.

The report, published in the Lancet to coincide with the build-up to the Olympics, estimates that about a third of adults are not doing enough physical activity, causing 5.3m deaths a year.

That equates to about one in 10 deaths from diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and breast and colon cancer.

Researchers said the problem was now so bad it should be treated as a pandemic.

And they said tackling it required a new way of thinking, suggesting the public needed to be warned about the dangers of inactivity rather than just reminded of the benefits of being active.

How to make your lifestyle more healthy

The team of 33 researchers drawn from centres across the world also said governments needed to look at ways to make physical activity more convenient, affordable and safer.

It is recommended that adults do 150 minutes of moderate exercise, such as brisk walking, cycling or gardening, each week.

The Lancet study found people in higher income countries were the least active with those in the UK among the worst, as nearly two-thirds of adults were judged not to be doing enough.

From Monday to Saturday, the streets of the Colombian capital of Bogota are packed with cars.

The city - one of the largest in South America - is a teeming metropolis, home to more than seven million people.

But on a Sunday vehicles are nowhere to be seen. Instead, the streets are taken over by pedestrians and cyclists, thanks to Ciclovia, a traffic-free streets initiative run by the city authorities.

The scheme, backed by successive mayors, has been running in one guise or another since the mid-1970s.

It now covers nearly 100km of roads in the centre of the city on Sundays and public holidays.

But as well as making Bogota a quieter place to roam, the ban on cars also has a health benefit.

Research has shown about a million residents regularly walk around on a Sunday, a fifth of whom say they would be inactive if it were not for the ban on vehicles.

Dr Michael Pratt, who was involved in the Lancet research on physical inactivity, said the Bogota scheme was a "wonderful example" of how governments could be encouraging more exercise.

Sedentary lifestyle can kill

The researchers admitted comparisons between countries were difficult because the way activity was estimated may have differed from place to place.

Nonetheless, they said they remained confident that their overall conclusion was valid.

Pedro Hallal, one of the lead researchers, said: "With the upcoming 2012 Olympic Games, sport and physical activity will attract tremendous worldwide attention.

"Although the world will be watching elite athletes from many countries compete in sporting events... most spectators will be quite inactive.

"The global challenge is clear - make physical activity a public health priority throughout the world to improve health and reduce the burden of disease."

Prof Lindsey Davies, president of the UK Faculty of Public Health, agreed.

"We need to do all we can to make it easy for people to look after their health and get active as part of their daily lives," she said.

"Our environment has a significant part to play. For example, people who feel unsafe in their local park will be less likely to use it."

But others questioned equating smoking with inactivity.

While smoking and inactivity kill a similar number of people, smoking rates are much lower than the number of inactive people, making smoking more risky to the individual.

Dr Claire Knight, of Cancer Research UK, said: "When it comes to preventing cancer, stopping smoking is by far the most important thing you can do."

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-politics-18876880


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 21, 2012 5:32 am 
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Video games used to aid stroke victims

VIDEO games are proving a handy tool to restore strength and dexterity in stroke victims.

Penelope McNulty, of Neuroscience Research Australia, heads a team that has developed a new stroke rehabilitation method called Wii-based Movement Therapy.

In an intensive two-week training program patients play games using the Nintendo Wii console to strengthen the muscles and nerves in stroke-affected arms and hands.

The patients play sports games requiring arm movements and also need to shift weight between their legs and move occasionally, so other muscles also benefit.

Dr McNulty is excited about Wii therapy, because most patients find it hard to stay motivated with other rehabilitation methods.

''The Wii is inexpensive, easy to use and, very importantly, fun. This type of rehabilitation motivates participants to actually complete their therapy, which is essential for maximum recovery,'' she said.

http://www.smh.com.au/national/video-ga ... z21C1qTT6k


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 22, 2012 6:08 am 
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Small changes for health

These easy lifestyle tweaks will turbo-charge your sense of vitality.

There are times when we would all like to turn our health around, yet it is hard to imagine undertaking big changes all in one go. Here is a guide to making small shifts and reaping serious benefits in your diet, fitness and sleep.

Sleep

Embrace mint tea: Coffee might be a good way to kick off your morning but, says body+soul nutritionist Lisa Guy, too much of it can overstimulate your nervous system, affecting your sleep and depleting the body of nutrients. In the afternoon, try peppermint tea for a natural pick-me-up, which also helps with digestion.

Darken your space: Research has found that excessive exposure to light at night disrupts sleep, so try to switch off your mobile, game console, computer and TV at least 30 minutes before you want to get some shut-eye. It is also a good idea to avoid illuminated alarm clocks.

Set a routine: A relaxing pre-bed ritual is worthwhile, says Dr Maree Barnes, a sleep specialist at The Austin Hospital in Melbourne. "It's not that important what you do, so long as you do more or less the same thing every night. It sends a message to the brain: 'Okay, in half an hour I'm going to walk into the bedroom and sleep'."

Try listening to some soothing ambient-style music, get passionate with your partner or sprinkle your pillow with a few drops of lavender, neroli, chamomile, frankincense or sweet orange essential oil. And of course, try a relaxing bath.

Food

Plan your meals: One of the easiest and most effective ways to boost your diet is by planning ahead. Make a little time every weekend to prep your fridge, pantry, desk and handbag with a range of healthy food for the week. Start with a manageable meal planner and a thorough shopping list and you are well on your way.

Make your own afternoon treats: Sugary treats make for an enticing snack but aren't as good as a homemade, healthy afternoon tea. A stash of berries with yoghurt, honey and crushed nuts will see your sweet tooth satisfied. "The protein will help stabilise your blood-sugar levels, give you a sense of satiety and won't promote weight gain, unlike something sugary," Guy says.

Think about simple switches: There are many alternatives to the foods we automatically reach for that taste just as good but are much better for us. Here are a few swaps to consider: instead of croutons, try walnuts – all the crunch with less fat; instead of dips, try lightly salted edamame (boiled soybeans); instead of rice try quinoa; instead of sugar, try maple syrup and instead of beef mince, try turkey mince.

Swap dessert for a chai tea: Late-night ice-cream or fruity gelato are not the best ways to finish each day. They are both high in sugar and, Guy says, this "causes a spike in blood-sugar levels followed by a drop, which could leave you feeling really flat when you wake up in the morning". Save dessert for special occasions and make yourself a warm, caffeine-free milky chai tea instead.

Fitness

Do more incidental exercise: Having other people look after your garden, take you to the train station or wash your car gives you more time, which is a valuable thing. But doing these things yourself as often as possible boosts your activity levels and will improve your overall fitness, which can be even more valuable. You will look and feel better for it, no Lycra required.

Do 90 squats a week: If you have ever watched a toddler play, you will notice they don't always bend to pick things up, they mostly squat. Somehow over the years we forget how to do it but the more we practise now, the better we become. Do three sets of 10 squats throughout the day, three days a week, and you'll see the difference.

"Squats are the number one exercise movement you can do," body+soul personal trainer Damien Kelly says. "They target the biggest muscles in the body, they're super effective and good for fat loss and muscle toning of the butt and legs."

Try squatting whenever you are on the phone, playing with the kids or waiting for the kettle to boil. Kelly's top tips for the perfect squat are: maintain your posture throughout (don't hunch and stay long through your spine), keep your heels in contact with the ground, don't let your knees travel too far forward and keep your gaze on the horizon.

http://www.bodyandsoul.com.au/health+he ... alth,18759


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 24, 2012 6:04 am 
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Do I have a food intolerance?

MANY Australians are waiting more than five years to seek treatment for food intolerances.

Victoria Lynch had chronic diarrhoea for 15 years and went to the toilet five times a day. Her energy was non-existent; she ached all over and could not stop putting on weight.

"I always had to know where the nearest toilet was," she says. "At one point I was diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome. I had regular colonoscopies and worried that my problems were due to bowel cancer."

Nobody mentioned to Lynch her symptoms could be due to food intolerance. It wasn't until last year, when she went on a diet that cut out bread and processed food, that her symptoms subsided and she realised the possible connection. A gastroscopy (examination of the upper digestive tract) indicated that she might have a food intolerance and she should try eliminating some foods. Since eliminating gluten from her diet she has seen a significant improvement.

Lynch's experience is not uncommon. A new study, carried out by food intolerance website Foodintol, has found 42 per cent of people who have a food intolerance experience symptoms for more than five years before realising they have the condition and seeking help. A further 28 per cent live with symptoms for two to five years.

Symptoms of food intolerance include bloating, diarrhoea, constipation, back pain, stiff joints and headaches.

"I am concerned about people living with symptoms and illness for years before being tested for food intolerance. It's distressing that so many people suffer for so long simply for the want of a little information," Deborah Manners, founder of Foodintol, says. While untreated food intolerance usually won't lead to life-threatening health conditions, Manners says living with symptoms can contribute to chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, thyroid disease and rheumatoid arthritis.

Manners and her team surveyed 900 subscribers to the website, who came from Australia, New Zealand, the US, Canada and the UK. About 68 per cent reported having a food intolerance.

Manners says her research suggests the main reasons for the delay in diagnosis are ignorance and denial.

"Sometimes people are unaware their symptoms are connected with intolerance," Manners says. "It can also take a person a long time to accept they have a food intolerance. They may be in denial because there's a misconception that food intolerances can be difficult to manage."

About 85 per cent of people surveyed reported bloating, 83 per cent had irritable bowel syndrome, diarrhoea and constipation, and just over 50 per cent experienced drowsiness, aches, back pain, stiff joints and headaches. Weight gain was a symptom for 44 per cent and other complaints included skin problems and candida or thrush.

"Chronic symptoms affect day-to-day life. You can't go out and enjoy yourself if you feel bloated or have to rush to the bathroom all the time," Manners says.

According to the survey, the most common food intolerances are dairy (59 per cent of people), gluten (58 per cent), wheat (48 per cent), additives (27 per cent), fructose (21 per cent) and yeast (19 per cent).

Food allergy vs food intolerance

Dr Kate Fetterplace, a dietitian at Royal Melbourne Hospital, says: "In general, food allergies are more severe than intolerances and usually occur in children."

The Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy says food allergy affects one in 20 children and one in 100 adults. With an allergy, symptoms usually appear within half an hour and can be as severe as vomiting, dizziness and anaphylaxis, where the throat closes. Food intolerance symptoms are usually slower to appear and tend to run in a family.

How to get tested for a food intolerance

The first step to seeing whether you have a food intolerance or allergy is to see your GP. A gastroscopy or a blood or skin test, where a suspected allergen is placed on the skin and the reaction is monitored, can confirm whether you have an allergy and can indicate a possible intolerance.
There is no test that can definitively diagnose a food intolerance. The best thing sufferers can do is to keep a food diary to help isolate intolerances.

"For a few days, note what you eat and what symptoms occur," Manners says. "Then avoid a food you think you are intolerant to for 10 days and note how you feel. Bring that food back into your diet and notice if any symptoms arise."

Fetterplace says people with a food intolerance may need an immunologist, an allergist and a dietitian to help them.

It is advisable to conduct an elimination diet, where you remove suspect foods from your diet, in consultation with a dietitian.

"With an intolerance you may need to avoid certain foods, but decreasing your intake may be enough to improve symptoms. You don't always have to cut the food out of your diet," Fetterplace says.

Relief for food intolerance sufferers

The Foodintol survey found that while physical symptoms often eased once a food intolerance was identified, there were also emotional and psychological benefits. Seventy per cent of people reported they had more energy, 50 per cent said they had a "brighter mood", 40 per cent had better concentration and 37 per cent felt less stressed.

"Once you correctly identify a food intolerance and manage it, you can find relief," Manners says. "People have a more positive outlook, more energy and the symptoms that spoil your lifestyle reduce or just disappear."

http://www.news.com.au/news/do-i-have-a ... 6433392994


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 28, 2012 5:29 am 
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Link found between Vitamin D and MS drug

MARK COLVIN: Scientists at the Menzies Research Institute in Hobart have made an important discovery about one of the most common drug used to treat MS.

They've found that the drug - interferon-beta- appears to boost people's ability to absorb vitamin D from sunlight.

In a study of 178 Tasmanians with MS the scientists found that patients on the drug were able to absorb three times as much vitamin D from the sun as those not on the drug.

Felicity Ogilvie reports from Hobart.

FELICITY OGILVIE: Multiple Sclerosis or MS is a disease that attacks the central nervous system.

It's been three years since the 30-year-old mother of two, Jayne England, found out that she has MS.

JAYNE ENGLAND: Within a week I basically went numb down the left side of my body and I went to the doctor's and I went and had CTs and MRIs and was diagnosed within two days. So it was a really quick diagnosis.

FELICITY OGILVIE: One of the medications that Mrs England was given to treat her MS was Interferon-beta. The drug is given to patients via injection.

And scientists at the Menzies Research Institute in Hobart have recently discovered there's a link between the drug and vitamin D.

Doctor Steve Simpson Jr has just had his research published in the journal Neurology.

STEVE SIMPSON JR: We found straight away was that vitamin D levels are about 12 per cent higher among people on interferon relative to those not on treatment and this isn't just you know because they were on some kind of therapy and they're out getting more sun because when we looked at other drugs that were similarly indicated you didn't see the same effects.

FELICITY OGILVIE: One of his colleagues at the Menzies Institute, Professor Bruce Taylor, says the discovery that the drug is linked to vitamin D could help MS patients around the world.

BRUCE TAYLOR: It is one of the major drugs we use in MS and one of the drugs that is used worldwide. It's probably the most commonly used drug to treat MS is that it is dependent on your vitamin D level.

And is also how this drug may work, because we've never known how it really works.

FELICITY OGILVIE: The findings could help the quality of life for MS patients because as Dr Simpson explains the drug is used to reduce relapses.

STEVE SIMPSON JR: Relapses, you're you know normal and then one day you start getting your eyesight gets a little weaker or you suddenly can't feel sensations much or your legs don't seem to be working as much and that just gets worse and worse for a period of weeks.

FELICITY OGILVIE: People living in Hobart are seven times more likely to get MS than people living in Darwin. Scientists say that in winter the sun is at such a low level in Hobart it's hard to make enough vitamin D from sunlight.

The Hobart MS patient Jayne England says she's encouraged by the link the scientists have found between the drug interferon-beta and vitamin D.

JAYNE ENGLAND: There's so much research done here and I think it's because of the number of people that do have MS. So that's why the research is so important and hopefully every bit of research that's done, and the new information that comes out, hopefully it's bringing us one step closer to a cure.

FELICITY OGILVIE: Professor, Bruce Taylor, says scientists still have a lot of questions about the relationship between sunlight, Vitamin D and MS.

BRUCE TAYLOR: Vitamin D has a lot of interest to us in MS. It's probably not the overall cure for the disease and it's only one part of the whole picture of why people get it but it's likely to be an important part, particularly in why people develop it.

And importance of why people develop it is that vitamin D may be important in the mother while the child is still in utero.

The levels of vitamin D that the mother exposes the infant to may irreversible, irrevocably effect how their genes are expressed and that may prime your system to develop MS later in life.

FELICITY OGILVIE: He says that the further you get away from the equator the higher the risk becomes of developing MS.

He says the highest rates of MS in the world are found in the north of Scotland and southern Scandinavia.

MARK COLVIN: Felicity Ogilvie.

http://www.abc.net.au/pm/content/2012/s3555265.htm


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 02, 2012 5:26 am 
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Allergies? Your sneeze is a biological response to the nose's 'blue screen of death'

Who would have thought that our noses and Microsoft Windows' infamous blue screen of death could have something in common? But that's the case being made by a new research report appearing online in The FASEB Journal. Specifically, scientists now know exactly why we sneeze, what sneezing should accomplish, and what happens when sneezing does not work properly. Much like a temperamental computer, our noses require a "reboot" when overwhelmed, and this biological reboot is triggered by the pressure force of a sneeze. When a sneeze works properly, it resets the environment within nasal passages so "bad" particles breathed in through the nose can be trapped. The sneeze is accomplished by biochemical signals that regulate the beating of cilia (microscopic hairs) on the cells that line our nasal cavities.

"While sinusitis rarely leads to death, it has a tremendous impact on quality of life, with the majority of symptoms coming from poor clearance of mucus," said Noam A. Cohen, M.D., Ph.D., a researcher involved in the work from the Department of Otorhinolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. "By understanding the process by which patients with sinusitis do not clear mucus from their nose and sinuses, we can try to develop new strategies to compensate for their poor mucus clearance and improve their quality of life."

To make this discovery, Cohen and colleagues used cells from the noses of mice which were grown in incubators and measured how these cells cleared mucus. They examined how the cells responded to a simulated sneeze (puff of air) by analyzing the cells' biochemical responses. Some of the experiments were replicated in human sinus and nasal tissue removed from patients with and without sinusitis. They found that cells from patients with sinusitis do not respond to sneezes in the same manner as cells obtained from patients who do not have sinusitis. The researchers speculate that sinusitis patients sneeze more frequently because their sneezes fail to reset the nasal environment properly or are less efficient at doing so. Further understanding of why sinusitis patients have this difficulty could aid in the development of more effective medications or treatments.

"I'm confident that modern biochemical studies of ciliary beating frequency will help us find new treatments for chronic sinusitis," said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal, "I'm far less confident in our abilities to resolve messy computer crashes. We now know why we sneeze. Computer crashes are likely to be a mystery forever."

http://medicalxpress.com/news/2012-07-a ... e.html#jCp


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 04, 2012 5:35 am 
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Allergies may reduce risk of brain cancer

New research adds to the growing body of evidence suggesting that there's a link between allergies and reduced risk of a serious type of cancer that starts in the brain. This study suggests the reduced risk is stronger among women than men, although men with certain allergy profiles also have a lower tumor risk.

The study also strengthens scientists' belief that something about having allergies or a related factor lowers the risk for this cancer. Because these tumors, called glioma, have the potential to suppress the immune system to allow them to grow, researchers have never been sure whether allergies reduce cancer risk or if, before diagnosis, these tumors interfere with the hypersensitive immune response to allergens.

Scientists conducting this study were able to analyze stored blood samples that were taken from patients decades before they were diagnosed with glioma. Men and women whose blood samples contained allergy-related antibodies had an almost 50 percent lower risk of developing glioma 20 years later compared to people without signs of allergies.

"This is our most important finding," said Judith Schwartzbaum, associate professor of epidemiology at Ohio State University and lead author of the study. "The longer before glioma diagnosis that the effect of allergies is present, the less likely it is that the tumor is suppressing allergies. Seeing this association so long before tumor diagnosis suggests that antibodies or some aspect of allergy is reducing tumor risk.

"It could be that in allergic people, higher levels of circulating antibodies may stimulate the immune system, and that could lower the risk of glioma," said Schwartzbaum, also an investigator in Ohio State's Comprehensive Cancer Center. "Absence of allergy is the strongest risk factor identified so far for this brain tumor, and there is still more to understand about how this association works."

Many previous studies of the link between allergies and brain tumor risk have been based on self-reports of allergy history from patients diagnosed with glioma. No previous studies have had access to blood samples collected longer than 20 years before tumor diagnosis.

The current study also suggested that women whose blood samples tested positive for specific allergy antibodies had at least a 50 percent lower risk for the most serious and common type of these tumors, called glioblastoma. This effect for specific antibodies was not seen in men. However, men who tested positive for both specific antibodies and antibodies of unknown function had a 20 percent lower risk of this tumor than did men who tested negative.

Glioblastomas constitute up to 60 percent of adult tumors starting in the brain in the United States, affecting an estimated 3 in 100,000 people. Patients who undergo surgery, radiation and chemotherapy survive, on average, for about one year, with fewer than a quarter of patients surviving up to two years and fewer than 10 percent surviving up to five years.

The study is published online in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Schwartzbaum and colleagues were granted access to specimens from the Janus Serum Bank in Norway. The bank contains samples collected from citizens during their annual medical evaluations or from volunteer blood donors for the last 40 years. Norway also has registered all new cases of cancer in the country since 1953, and personal identification numbers enable cross-referencing those cases with previously collected blood samples.

The researchers analyzed stored samples from 594 people who were diagnosed with glioma (including 374 diagnosed with glioblastoma) between 1974 and 2007. They matched these samples for date of blood collection, age and sex with 1,177 samples from people who were not diagnosed with glioma for comparison.

The researchers measured the blood samples for levels of two types of proteins called IgE, or immunoglobulin E. This is a class of antibodies produced by white blood cells that mediate immune responses to allergens. Two classes of IgE participate in the allergic response: allergen-specific IgE, which recognizes specific components of an allergen, and total IgE, which recognizes these components but also includes antibodies with unknown functions.

In each sample, the scientists determined whether the serum contained elevated levels of IgE specific to the most common allergens in Norway as well as total IgE. The specific respiratory allergens included dust mites; tree pollen and plants; cat, dog and horse dander; and mold.

The researchers then conducted a statistical analysis to estimate the association between elevated concentrations of allergen-specific IgE and total IgE and the risk of developing glioma.

http://www.news-medical.net/news/201208 ... ancer.aspx


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 05, 2012 5:39 am 
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Greens kill cancer genes, new research shows

IT turns out that mum was right - you really should eat your greens. Numerous studies have found cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, brussels sprouts and cabbage contain cancer-fighting nutrients.

But in a further breakthrough, researchers from Oregon State University in the US have uncovered how green vegetables fight disease in a new study published in the Clinical Epigenetics journal.

They found a key component of broccoli sprouts - sulforaphane - helps suppress breast cancer proliferation and growth, particularly by working through a mechanism called DNA methylation.

Linus Pauling Institute associate professor Emily Ho said this process "turns off genes" and helps control what DNA material gets read as part of genetic communication within cells. This process gets mixed up in cancer sufferers.

She said young sprouts contain more than 50 times the sulforaphane contained in mature broccoli.

"It appears that DNA methylation and HDAC inhibition, both of which can be influenced by sulforaphane, work in concert with each other to maintain proper cell function," she said. "They sort of work as partners and talk to each other."

But it's not just green veg that can fight disease.

Ginger could have the power to help manage high blood sugar levels which create complications for long-term diabetic patients, according to a University of Sydney study published this month in the Planta Medica journal.

Pharmaceutical Chemistry professor Basil Roufogalis said cells could operate independently of insulin with extracts from an Australian-grown ginger that could increase the uptake of glucose into muscle cells.

"It is hoped that these promising results for managing blood glucose levels can be examined further in human clinical trials," he said.

Swisse dietitian Simone Austin said people should be eating up to five serves of fresh vegetables a day.

"Eating more vegetables helps reduce the risk of disease in general because it prevents cells from going wrong, and that's what cancer is," she said. "Minimal cooking is best because lots of vitamins, such as Vitamin C and folate, are destroyed by heat."

Bruce Docherty said his children Maisy, 4, and Jonah, 2, eat several serves of vegetables every day.

"Maisy is fussy but if we cut it up and hide it she will eat it," Mr Docherty, from Caringbah, said.

"She knows that fruit and vegetables are good for you and keep you strong. She always asks if carrots will help her see in the dark."

http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/cancer-fi ... 6442756848


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 08, 2012 5:26 am 
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Multivitamins are a waste of time and money, says Choice

POPPING a daily multivitamin pill could be a waste of time and money, says consumer watchdog Choice.

Healthy individuals who already eat a balanced diet but also take multivitamins could be spending money unnecessarily, an investigation by Choice found.

Although there is sometimes clinical evidence to support taking a supplement, the doses can often be way below levels required to have a significant impact, the organisation said.

"If you have a healthy diet and you're not a person with specific nutritional requirements, there's a good chance you're wasting your money," Choice spokeswoman Ingrid Just said.

"At 20 to 70 cents per day for multivitamin products we priced, the `worried well' can spend several hundred dollars a year simply by taking a daily pill.

"Marketing messages, often backed up by high-profile sporting celebrities, give the impression that we all need multivitamins to be fit and healthy," she said in a statement.

People taking a range of multivitamins without checking the recommended daily intake (RDI) requirements could be exceeding the RDI for some vitamins and potentially putting their health at risk, as not all vitamins are safe in high doses.

But most multivitamins contain lower doses of ingredients so it's harder for them to be overconsumed, the investigation found.

Vitamin labelling could also confuse consumers, with some labels stating the vitamin name such as B3, while others using the chemical name, niacin.

"An untrained person probably wouldn't know that the two things are one and the same," Ms Just said.

Manufacturers of products sold in Australia are not required to list how each ingredient amount relates to RDI.

"We want manufacturers to list vitamin and mineral values according to the percentage of an appropriate RDI in each dose to help consumers compare apples with apples," Choice's investigation concluded.

Multivitamins are big business, with Choice identifying eight different multivitamin products marketed by both Blackmores and Nature's Own, 11 by Nature's Way and 16 by Swisse.

But some groups definitely benefit from supplements, including pregnant women taking folate before and after conception, the study pointed out.

Choice recommends individuals consult a dietician or GP about their nutritional needs before opting for multivitamin or other supplements.

http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/nation ... 6444362703


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 12, 2012 6:06 am 
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Eat your way out of anxiety

Eating a healthy, nutritious and balanced diet is a great way to manage stress and anxiety, says nutritionist Teresa Boyce.

With the increasing pressures of modern living it's no wonder the rates of anxiety and associated disorders are on the rise. Most of us will experience anxiety or stress at some point in our lives, but for those who suffer from anxiety on a daily basis it can become overwhelming and all-consuming. Symptoms of anxiety are varied and can include:Persistent fear and excessive worrying.

Panic attacks and avoidance of certain places, situations or objects.
Feeling irritable and uneasy.
Having difficulty relaxing, concentrating and sleeping.
Physical symptoms, such as heart palpitations, muscle spasms, shortness of breath, headaches and nausea.

Diet and lifestyle choices can make a huge impact when it comes to managing the symptoms of stress and anxiety. If you are feeling anxious, try the following tips.

Use the power of protein Amino acids are the building blocks of protein, and have many functions within our body. When it comes to anxiety, the two amino acids to focus on are glutamine and tryptophan.

Glutamine is required for GABA, the calming neurotransmitter useful in controlling panic attacks.

Tryptophan is a precursor to serotonin, the feel-good neurotransmitter. Low levels of serotonin are associated with an increase in anxiety, as well as an increase in panic attacks.

Organic dairy, fish, chicken, beef, nuts and seeds are all good sources of these vital amino acids.

http://www.bodyandsoul.com.au/food+diet ... iety,20435


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 14, 2012 5:48 am 
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Chemical in Soap Could Cause Health Problems

A chemical widely used in antibacterial soaps and other household products may impair heart and muscle function, and cause other harmful effects to both people and the environment, according to a new study by researchers at the University of California, Davis and the University of Colorado.

The chemical triclosan was developed 40 years ago to prevent bacterial infections in hospitals. Today, it is used in hand soaps, deodorants, toothpaste, mouthwash, bedding, clothes, carpets, toys and trash bags.

“The effects of triclosan on cardiac function were really dramatic,” said Nipavan Chiamvimonvat, a study co-author and professor of cardiovascular medicine at UC Davis. “Regulatory agencies should definitely be reconsidering whether it should be allowed in consumer products.”

In 1998, the Environmental Protection Agency estimated that one million pounds of triclosan were produced in the U.S. annually. The chemical is detectable in waterways, fish, and dolphins, as well as human blood and breast milk.

“Triclosan is found in virtually everyone’s home and is pervasive in the environment,” said Isaac Pessah, the lead investigator and chair of the Department of Molecular Biosciences in the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. “These findings provide strong evidence that the chemical is of concern to both human and environmental health.”

In the study, published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers described the impact of triclosan on muscle activity in various experiments using doses similar to those that people and animals may be exposed to in the environment.

In test tube experiments, triclosan impaired the ability of heart muscle cells and skeletal muscle fibers to contract by blocking signals between proteins that make contractions possible. Another experiment with mice showed a 25 percent reduction in their heart function within 20 minutes of exposure to triclosan.

“In patients with underlying heart failure, triclosan could have significant effects because it is so widely used,” Chiamvimonvat said. “However, without additional studies, it would be difficult for a physician to distinguish between natural disease progression and an environmental factor such as triclosan.”

Investigators also found that triclosan reduced the swimming activity of fathead minnows, organisms known for revealing the potential impacts of aquatic pollutants. When exposed to triclosan in water for seven days, the minnows had significantly reduced swimming activity.

“We were surprised by the large degree to which muscle activity was impaired in very different organisms and in both cardiac and skeletal muscle,” said Bruce Hammock, a study co-author and professor in the UC Davis Department of Entomology. “You can imagine in animals that depend so totally on muscle activity that even a 10 percent reduction in ability can make a real difference in their survival.”

Previous findings by the Food and Drug Administration showed that triclosan is useful in toothpaste in preventing gingivitis, but is otherwise no more effective than regular soap and water in protecting consumers. Furthermore, there is a concern that the overuse of antibacterial products would lead to the development of resistant strains of bacteria.

UC Davis researchers have previously linked triclosan to other potentially harmful health effects, including disruption of reproductive hormone activity and of cell signaling in the brain.

“Triclosan can be useful in some instances, however it has become a ubiquitous ‘value added’ marketing factor that actually could be more harmful than helpful,” said Hammock. “At the very least, our findings call for a dramatic reduction in its use.”

The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health, the Muscular Dystrophy Association and the J.B. Johnson Foundation.

http://americannewsreport.com/chemical- ... 15361.html


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