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PostPosted: Fri Jan 09, 2015 9:48 am 
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Analysts: Pfizer's New Type of Cancer Drug May Get OK Early

The first in a new class of cancer medicines, Pfizer's Ibrance, appears poised for approval to treat advanced breast cancer within a few months and could quickly become a blockbuster, some analysts believe.

Pfizer shares rose 74 cents, or 2.3 percent, to $32.59 Thursday following analysts' forecasts that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration could approve Ibrance before its April 13 target decision date.

Their reports came just after the New York-based drugmaker said the FDA informed Pfizer it wouldn't convene a panel of outside experts to review testing data on the drug, known chemically as palbociclib. Such advisory panel meetings are often held, in addition to the review by FDA staff members, particularly when a drug is the first in a new class or there are concerns over effectiveness or side effects.

In recent years, the FDA has rejected many experimental drugs initially, requiring additional data and even new rounds of patient testing. But the FDA gave Ibrance priority review, part of its strategy to get potential breakthroughs to patients faster.

Pfizer also said it is already discussing with FDA staff the wording of the detailed package insert for the drug, another sign approval is likely soon. That would give Pfizer more of a head start on rivals in earlier stages of testing their own experimental drugs in the class, called CDK4/6 inhibitors.

Those drugs are believed to block enzymes, called CDK4 and 6, that help cancer cells divide uncontrollably.

Pfizer is seeking approval to market Ibrance for patients with advanced breast cancer whose growth is fueled by the hormone estrogen but not the growth factor HER2 ? the majority of postmenopausal women with breast cancer. If approved, Ibrance would be given with an older cancer drug, letrozole, which reduces estrogen production. The two drugs would work synergistically.

Credit Suisse analyst Vamil Divan wrote to investors that he's "somewhat surprised" the FDA won't have an advisory committee meeting because the agency's decision would be based on a relatively small amount of data, a mid-stage Pfizer study called PALOMA 1.

It included 165 women who received Ibrance either alone or with letrozole. Among those receiving Ibrance, their cancer did not worsen for 20.2 months on average, twice as long as for women only receiving letrozole.

"We have consistently believed this is a product that the FDA sees value in and is committed to getting to the market as quickly as possible," Divan wrote.

He's forecasting Ibrance sales of about $420 million this year, $1 billion next year and $2 billion in 2017. Jeffries LLC analyst Jeffrey Holford forecasts sales of $5 billion by 2020. He wrote Thursday that he's very confident Ibrance will win approval on the first try, which would boost Pfizer stock about 5 percent.

Pfizer currently is running multiple, much larger studies of Ibrance among other women with breast cancer and, along with partners, is testing it against other cancer types, including head and neck, lung and prostate cancer and melanoma. ... y-28089294

PostPosted: Tue Jan 13, 2015 12:39 pm 
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Flu deaths, hospitalizations higher than last year

This year’s flu season has resulted in the hospitalization of 2,796 patients in Wisconsin, which is nearly five times as many as last year.

“This year has been marked with a lot of more serious illness than we’re used to seeing,” said Dr. John Temte, a physician with UW Health and member of the U.S. Advisory Commission on Immunization Practices.

Many of the hospitalizations have been for very young and older patients. The hospitalization rate for children between newborn and age 4 in the U.S. is 22 for every 100,000 while the rate for seniors 65 and over is 91.6 for every 100,000.

Nationally, 26 flu deaths have occurred so far this year compared with 10 during all of last year.

The reason for the high number of reported flu cases and hospitalizations is being traced to a shift in the strain of flu occurring this year from what was expected and the vaccine that was created.

“The main reason is this virus that is most common out there is somewhat different than what’s in the vaccine,” Temte said.

Even though the vaccine offers limited protection from the flu this year, given the months of flu season still ahead, it is still recommended for individuals who have not been vaccinated.

“The other thing that’s important to remember is even if we’ve hit the peak, we still have roughly 50 percent of the cases that are going to occur are yet to occur. So if you haven’t been vaccinated yet, there is still time,” Temte said.

While the yearly flu vaccine remains one of the best defenses, researchers are developing what could be the next generation of flu vaccines.

“I think the holy grail of influenza vaccines is what is called the universal vaccine and that is one that instead of providing vaccination year after year is one that might be given every five or 10 years.,” Temte said.

The universal vaccine is in the trial stage, but Temte believes it will be at least five years before it could receive Food and Drug Administration approval. The universal vaccine will need to be tested for effectiveness and safety.

Temte believes if approved, it could be a game changer for the future of flu in this country.

“Influenza is a type of virus that if you have a good matched vaccine and you have a lot of use of that vaccine you could actually make influenza largely go away," Temte said. ... r/30668372

PostPosted: Thu Jan 15, 2015 2:16 pm 
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Snoring, sleep apnoea solution: Hunter researcher's bed may end snoring

A HUNTER researcher has helped develop a new kind of bed that could put an end to snoring – and completely transform the way humans sleep.

Lying on the belly rather than the back could be a simple solution for sufferers of sleep apnoea and severe snoring.

Professor Michael Nilsson, the director of Hunter Medical Research Institute, has teamed up with researchers in Sweden to develop a t-shaped pillow and layered and angled foam mattress.

The bed system has shown promising results in a clinical trial, reducing sleep apnoea episodes by 50 per cent and “dramatically” reducing snoring.

Apnoea occurs when the walls of the throat come together or collapse during sleep, blocking off the upper part of the airway.

It can lead to disturbances hundreds of times a night and one in five adults are thought to be affected to some extent.

Professor Nilsson, a neuroscientist and stroke rehabilitation researcher, said that a large proportion of animals – apart from humans and monkeys - lie on their bellies when getting some shut eye.

“Sleeping on the back, that’s probably developed over history because of social habits,” he said.

“The idea came up a few years ago when we studied a few cases of severe sleep apnoea and a case report told us they had tried to sleep on their belly.

“We noticed that very little had been done to prove the benefits of sleeping this way.

“The problem is bedding and beds we currently have don’t allow for comfortable sleeping on your belly generally and you move around a lot.”

Present options for treating apnoea include a breathing mask and a mandular splint which holds the jaw in place – both effective but somewhat uncomfortable to use.

Professor Nilsson said people using the new mattress went from lying on their backs for 142 minutes a night to less than a minute.

He said this had provided equivalent of better results to using a breathing mask.

“The participants took four to seven days to adapt to the new situation,” he explained.

“They were a bit uncomfortable in the beginning but they swear by it now and all of them have decided long after the study finished to continue to sleep on it.”

Poor sleeping patterns could increase the risk of stroke, cardiovascular disease, dementia, diabetes and other diseases, Professor Nilsson said.

The bed has already become available commercially in Sweden with plans to also bring it to Australia.

There are also hopes to have the mattress classified as a medical device for use in acute-care hospital wards ... d-snoring/

PostPosted: Sat Jan 17, 2015 1:32 pm 
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Mental wellness warriors: Fighting for those who need it most

(CNN)Too often the nation only hears about mental illness when tragedy strikes. But there are warriors for mental wellness in many fields, fighting for better treatment and working to defy stigma. CNN highlights nine fighters, from the famous to the everyman, who are making a difference.

1. Demi Lovato
Actress and singer Demi Lovato stepped into the mental health advocacy role in 2014 by openly discussing her struggles with bipolar disorder.

"I want to show the world that there is life -- surprising, wonderful and unexpected life -- after diagnosis," she says.

In September, Lovato headlined the National Alliance on Mental Illness' "Call to Action" day, telling the audience she will fight for comprehensive mental health reform. She also launched what she calls the Mental Health Listening and Engagement Tour to meet others struggling with mental health issues.

"Those of us here today," she told NAMI supporters, "know that mental illness has no prejudice. It affects people of every race, age, gender, religion and economic status. ... We need to send the simple message to our nation's leaders: Mental health matters and must be taken seriously."

The 22-year-old singer of smash hits "Let It Go" and "Give Your Heart a Break" struggled with depression and feelings of helplessness. "I'd medicate myself with drugs and alcohol in an effort to feel normal -- not better, just normal."

"I had very low periods that were so emotionally draining that I couldn't find the strength to crawl out of bed."

Her diagnosis of bipolar disorder was a "relief in so many ways." It helped make sense of the desperation she had felt for years.

"Even with access to so much," she told the NAMI crowd, "my journey has not been an easy one."

The former Disney Channel star's recovery was aided by a comprehensive approach: seeing a therapist, getting proper medication, sticking to a treatment plan, being honest with herself and taking better care of her body.

"Doing better with bipolar disorder takes work, and it doesn't always happen at once."

Mental health advocates say trying to reach America's youth is one of the toughest things in overcoming stigma, and that Lovato's star power helps bridge that divide. She says she's proud of her recovery and that she got the "help that I need."

"You can have that, too."

2. Fred Frese
Fred Frese stands as the epitome of successful recovery from mental illness. At 25, he was diagnosed with schizophrenia as a Marine Corps officer, and over the next decade he cycled in and out of military, state, county, Veterans and private hospitals.

In the summer of 1968, he was picked up by police because "I was trying to convert people to love, peace and justice." A magistrate in Ohio found him insane and committed him to the state psychiatric hospital. "Twelve years after I was declared to be insane," Frese says, "I was promoted to be the director of psychology at Ohio's largest state hospital."

Frese travels the nation promoting mental health treatment, giving speeches and serving as a positive example for those with severe mental illness. He says not enough people in recovery speak publicly because the stigma of mental illness is so strong.

Frese is a bundle of energy, a man who speaks in rapid-fire fashion almost like an auctioneer. He approaches mental illness as both patient and practitioner: his schizophrenia kept in check by medication and proper care. He says the nation's mental health care system is in need of drastic reform. He points to the rise in homelessness, suicide and the difficulty in getting treatment.

"This is a national disgrace. We have abandoned, ignored and marginalized persons with these disorders, and something has to be done," he says.

Frese approaches the topic with authority, and with humor. He describes himself as a stand-up schizophrenic. "Particularly proud of being an escaped lunatic," he tells audiences to laughs.

Even as he struggled with his own mental health, Frese earned master's and doctoral degrees in psychology from Ohio University. He eventually became the director of psychology at Western Reserve Psychiatric Hospital in in Ohio. He held that position for 15 years, until his retirement in 1995.

He currently is an associate professor of psychiatry at Northeast Ohio Medical University and a clinical assistant professor at Case Western Reserve University. He also has served for 12 years on the board of directors of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the largest nonprofit advocacy group for the mentally ill.

His latest goal is to convince mental health professionals to "self-disclose" about their struggles with mental problems.

"This is an excellent way to fight stigma," he says. "That's a major part of my new mission."

3. Ted Stanley
Ted Stanley, a billionaire businessman and philanthropist, gave the largest donation in psychiatric research history in 2014. The $650 million donation to the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard is aimed at enhancing scientific research on psychiatric disorders with the hopes of leading to a breakthrough in new treatments.

Stanley has been on a quest the last 2½ decades to get to the root cause of mental health disorders. He saw the need for effective treatment after his son, Jonathon, was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at age 19.

His son responded to medication, but he met countless families whose children's conditions never improved with medication.

"Human genomics has begun to reveal the causes of these disorders. We still have a long way to go, but for the first time we can point to specific genes and biological processes. It's now time to step on the gas pedal," Stanley said in announcing his gift. "I am donating my personal wealth to this goal."

He said his dedication to this cause -- and solution -- is because he witnessed so many other patients and families have disappointing outcomes. "There was no treatment in sight to end it the way ours had ended with medication solving the problem," Stanley said.

Coinciding with the donation was the release of a groundbreaking study on schizophrenia by Broad Institute scientists and hundreds of others. The study identified 108 genes linked with schizophrenia and could result in breakthrough treatment in the years ahead.

"We are finally beginning to gain the deep knowledge about these disorders that we have sought for decades," says Tom Insel, director of the National Institute of Mental Health.

4. Sarah Spitz
Sarah Spitz struggled with suicidal thoughts, first in high school and then again in college. The urges only intensified as the stress of college built up.

A senior at Emory University majoring in psychology, Spitz has turned her fear into action. She encourages students to seek help and uses her own experience as a way to relate to students struggling with the demands of college.

Spitz is the president of Emory's chapter of Active Minds, a nonprofit group that links students across the nation and inspires them to speak up about mental health issues. She has seen the group grow from a handful of people to a couple dozen.

"When I first got involved with Active Minds, I felt like a bit of a hypocrite, because I used to be suicidal. I've made multiple suicide attempts," she says. "Then, I was coming at it from the other perspective: trying to prevent suicide by connecting students. It felt kind of strange at first."

It's a role she now embraces because she sees the need for the help and for students to have a peer who can relate. She left Emory her freshman year in 2009 because her mental health was spiraling. She couldn't eat or sleep.

When she returned to school two years later, she felt lost as she went from "being a mental patient to a real person in college."

Active Minds provided her an outlet to "openly talk about where I'd been."

"I will speak up about my own mental health struggles, and I help to encourage others to do the same," she says.

Spitz believes students coming back from medical leave for psychiatric reasons need more help during that transition. She is determined to work with the university in helping future students during that phase.

5. Michael Woody
Michael Woody was a police sergeant in Akron, Ohio, when a woman with a long history of mental illness tried to kill him. That incident changed the course of his life work -- to make sure police were properly trained to deal with the mentally ill.

The woman eventually jumped off a bridge after a grand jury recommended she go to prison for up to 25 years for felonious assault. Woody was the officer who found her body.

"That always stuck with me."

Woody rose through the ranks and eventually became the director of training for officers. He studied how often police went out on calls involving people with mental health problems: at least one in 10 calls, meaning a rookie officer will likely encounter someone experiencing a mental breakdown on their first day.

Woody now heads CIT International, which works with local, state and federal agencies to train officers on how best to "de-escalate a situation when people are in crisis." CIT stands for Crisis Intervention Team training.

"Law enforcement needs to recognize that at times, it is the wise officer who can conceal their combat-ready status," says Woody. "Your normal police officer does not have a realistic view of mental illness. That's because they only get called when there's a crisis."

CIT International has trained more than 3,000 law enforcement departments on how best to respond to mental health calls. Police undergo a 40-hour course in which they meet people with mental illness and their families, tour mental health facilities, and train for an array of scenarios.

CIT is meant to teach officers to respond with empathy while maintaining their own safety. "We're trying to get officers to understand that this is an illness," Woody says.

Officers typically "don't get to see the person on a good day and usually we don't get to see their parents or their loved ones on a good day."

"In a CIT course, they get to see them on a good day and they hear a heart-wrenching story of a person with mental illness."

And, in turn, a tense situation is calmed without violence. Getting police to understand takes time, Woody says, but it works.

6. Mia St. John
Mia St. John rose to become a world-champion boxer, but her big fight was outside the ring.

She struggled with suicidal tendencies, obsessive compulsive disorder, panic attacks and alcoholism. While she managed to overcome those challenges, the boxer and former Playboy model became an activist for people living with mental illness. She spoke at congressional hearings, worked with Rep. Grace Napolitano, D-California, on improving mental health awareness in schools, and advocated for the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Not only could she relate to the difficulties of living with mental health issues, she also could relate to parents raising a seriously mentally ill child: Her son, Julian, struggled for the last seven years with schizophrenia. At 24, Julian St. John committed suicide inside a psychiatric hospital in November.

"The treatment of our mentally ill in this country is horrific, and I will die trying to expose this messed up system of ours," St. John says.

Despite her fame and wealth, her son was homeless the last several years, living in park bathrooms in Los Angeles. She would visit him, trying to persuade him to get treatment. He was a brilliant artist whose works fetched $1,500 apiece when he was stable. But that was the trick, trying to keep him healthy.

"When my son was on his meds, there was no stopping him," she says. "He was so talented. He would only wander off to the parks when he was off his meds."

She won conservatorship in March 2014, allowing her to be more active in his health care decisions. Yet despite her best efforts, he cycled in and out of psychiatric facilities.

St. John knows treatment works. She's living proof. Now, she hopes to expose what she calls the inhumane treatment of the mentally ill for a potential documentary. That, she says, is the best way to honor her late son -- and the hundreds of thousands of other homeless Americans who remain untreated.

"We have to get word out, so that change can get made."

7. Leon Evans
Leon Evans believes in the concept of "therapeutic justice," the idea that the mentally ill should get treatment rather than sent straight to the nation's jails and prisons after committing offenses.

"It's not the courts that get them better, it's the treatment," he says.

Evans has been instrumental in bringing together law enforcement authorities, mental health officials, judges, and policymakers in Bexar County in San Antonio, Texas, to work together in dealing with the mentally ill.

"It doesn't make sense to have these people in prison because they don't make good prisoners," he says. "Mentally ill inmates agitate other prisoners and that makes it dangerous for everybody."

Evans helped develop what is called the Restoration Center, an integrated mental health service center that opened in 2003. When San Antonio police pick up a mentally ill person, their first stop now is the Restoration Center. Instead of being dumped off at a crowded jail, the mentally ill get proper care at the facility.

As a result, an estimated 25,000 people a year are diverted to the center: people who used to go to jail, the emergency rooms or straight back out on the streets, says Evans. The center saved the city an estimated $15 million in 2014. In addition, the homeless population was down 70% and the county jail system has 600 empty beds.

Kansas City and Des Moines opened similar centers last year modeled after the San Antonio facility. Evans, the executive director of the Center for Health Care Services, is in high demand around the country.

"We're happy to share information with folks," he says, "because I think we're doing some good."

8. Pete Earley
Best-selling author Pete Earley has become a one-man watchdog of the mental health community and the politics surrounding efforts to reform the nation's mental health system.

Folks in the mental health community -- from those raising children with severe mental illness to policymakers -- keep close track of what Earley writes on his blog.

The former Washington Post journalist gets scoops about the latest reform efforts long before mainstream journalists.

His book, "Crazy: A Father's Search Through America's Mental Health Madness," is considered the bible among mothers and fathers trying to raise a child with severe mental illness. A 2007 Pulitzer Prize finalist, "Crazy" details Earley's efforts to get care for his son and America's criminalization of the mentally ill.

"Suddenly the two of us were thrown headlong into the maze of contradictions, disparities and Catch-22s that make up America's mental health system," Earley writes.

Since going public with his family's story, Earley has traveled the country and the world discussing the need for better care.

9. Creigh Deeds
Virginia State Sen. Creigh Deeds survived being stabbed multiple times by his 24-year-old son in November 2013. His son, Gus, suffered from bipolar disorder and had been turned away by a mental health center because a psychiatric bed could not be found.

Shortly after returning home, Gus stabbed his father with a knife and then shot himself.

Creigh Deeds has turned the tragedy into action. A state lawmaker for more than two decades, he was "always ashamed by Virginia's abysmal ranking" when it came to mental health care. Yet he admits it was never his priority.

Seeing his son decline -- even turned away when he sought treatment -- was the lawmaker's wake-up call.

"I promise you I would give anything to not be in this position today," Deeds said at this year's annual National Alliance on Mental Illness conference.

NAMI honored Deeds with the Richard T. Greer Advocacy Award for his efforts to reform Virginia's mental health laws. "Who knows whether the cure for cancer or the next big idea to save the Earth or to unlock the secrets of the universe is locked in the mind of someone who now struggles with a disease of the brain?" he said. "How many of those bright minds are locked away in our criminal justice system?"

Deeds signifies a valiant father seeking to make a difference. He says he owes it to his son's legacy and for the millions of others who need proper treatment in America. The Washington Post ran a stellar profile of Deeds and his recovery in November.

"My son was unbelievable," he told NAMI. "He remains, in every respect, a hero. Gus was exactly what I wanted to be. He was smart, handsome, strong, inquisitive, confident. ...

"He could do anything he wanted to do, and do it well. His life was just not long enough."

His reform efforts, he says, have just begun. "I'm not finished." ... d-it-most/

PostPosted: Mon Jan 19, 2015 11:53 am 
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New warning strains heart and budget

HEALTH experts warn that an irregular heartbeat “epidemic” will put a big strain on the health budget and savage the quality of life of hundreds of thousands of older Australians.

A study has found the prevalence of atrial fibrillation, the most common abnormal heart rhythm, will double to more than 600,000 by 2034, causing a surge in the incidence of strokes and heart failure.

Researchers from the Mary MacKillop Institute for Health Research, at the Australian Catholic University in Melbourne, analysed overseas statistics to model likely trends here. One in 15 Australians over 55 would have the condition within two decades, with the increase most pronounced in Queensland, they found.

“These data are indicative of a largely unappreciated prevalence in Australia,” they report today in the Medical Journal of Australia. Team leader Simon Stewart said the figures were conservative, with the “double whammy” of unhealthy lifestyles and an ageing population set to increase the incidence of atrial fibrillation exponentially.

“We’ve said it’s going to double, but it will probably overshoot that. We’re heavier, and many people are walking around with high blood pressure. These are the biggest drivers of AF. The worst case scenario is quite horrifying.”

AF affects the upper chambers of the heart, making it work harder. Unlike other types of arrhythmia it is not fatal in itself, and can be asymptomatic. “It can leave you short of breath, with palpitations or with nothing,” Professor Stewart said. “But this silent killer will sit for years and essentially change the structure of the heart. You may not even know you’ve got it.”

AF is associated with a threefold increase in the risk of heart failure and a five to sevenfold increased risk of stroke. Professor Stewart said lifestyle modifications could reduce the likelihood of contracting the condition, while proactive detection programs could lead to better treatment and fewer complications.

“Everyone’s sick of saying this, but we need to have better blood pressure control, lower our weight and exercise more. And we need AF-specific strategies. We’ve only just started to see those emerge.”

He said management of AF was “way behind” other heart conditions such as acute myocardial infarction.

Last year, figures emerged suggesting that cancer had replaced cardiovascular disease as the biggest human killer. But Professor Stewart said both were the flip side of longer life expectancies, and would vie with each other for top spot. “If heart disease doesn’t get you, cancer will.” ... 7189010318

PostPosted: Wed Jan 21, 2015 8:59 am 
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Dad Arrested for Giving Cannabis Oil to Daughter With Cancer

The father of a 2-year-old with late-stage cancer is facing jail time for using cannabis oil in an attempt to ease his daughter’s suffering.

When Adam Koessler’s 2-year-old daughter Rumer Rose was diagnosed with stage 4 neuroblastoma recently, he began supplementing her chemo treatments with doses of cannabis oil, seeing “amazing” results. Still, Koessler lives in Australia, where medical marijuana is illegal, and he was arrested Jan. 2 for his efforts; he was released on bail but now faces charges for possessing dangerous drugs and for supplying them to a minor, and is due back in court on Friday. The situation has outraged thousands around the world, who have signed online petitions and raised money in support of the single dad.

“He is a father doing whatever possible to save his child… let him go,” writes one of nearly 114,000 supporters on a petition to drop Koessler’s charges and legalize medical marijuana. Says another, “If the law states that this man cannot give his terminally ill… daughter something that improves her quality of life, than the law needs to be changed. The fact that this man has had his parental rights taken away by an ignorant legal system that has absolutely no right to do so absolutely disgusts me.”

On Christmas Eve, Rumer was diagnosed with stage-4 neuroblastoma — a pediatric cancer that develops from immature nerve cells — according to Koessler, who shared details of his story on a GoFundMe page he set up to help with his daughter’s care. (Koessler could not be reached for comment by Yahoo Parenting.) Doctors proposed 12 months of chemotherapy, while Rumer’s father and mother (who are not a couple), began a complementary therapy of naturopathic medicine, gluten-free meals, and medical-grade cannabis oil, which has been used around the world, with varying success rates, to treat conditions from ulcers and migraines to cancer and epilepsy. While the notion of treating children with marijuana remains controversial, Koessler says the oil worked wonders.

“The results were amazing,” he writes. “What we saw when Rumer was given the medical cannabis oil what nothing short of miraculous. Her cancer ridden little body was alive again — Rumer had almost instant quality of life…Her skin color came back, her eyes were sparkling again…We were certain after seeing these results that her recovery was entirely possible.” ... 25667.html

PostPosted: Fri Jan 23, 2015 9:27 am 
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Radiation plus hormone therapy saves lives in prostate cancer

The dual therapy saved nearly 50% more lives among men aged 76 to 85 with locally advanced prostate cancer, compared to those who received hormone therapy alone, said the findings in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

The study is the first to focus on older men with locally advanced prostate cancer, and builds upon the results of two clinical trials that showed combination therapy could save lives in younger men. Locally advanced prostate cancer occurs when cancer has spread outside but near the prostate gland, making for more aggressive tumors that are prone to metastasize and become fatal, the researchers said.

Previous research has shown that about 40% of men with aggressive prostate cancer are treated with hormone therapy alone, suggesting there is a significant group of people who could benefit from radiation therapy.

“Failure to use effective treatments for older patients with cancer is a health care quality concern in the United States,” said lead author Justin Bekelman, an assistant professor of Radiation Oncology, Medical Ethics and Health Policy at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine and Abramson Cancer Center. “Radiation plus hormone therapy is such a treatment for men with aggressive prostate cancers.”

He urged patients to talk with their doctors, and called on physicians to “reduce the use of hormone therapy alone.” The study involved 31,541 men with prostate cancer, ranging in age from 65 to 85 years.

Those aged 76 to 85 and who got the radiation plus hormone therapy saw 49% fewer deaths than those on hormone therapy alone after seven years of follow-up. The younger age bracket, 65 to 75, also benefited from combination therapy, seeing 57% fewer deaths than in those who received just hormone therapy. Mr. Bekelman said the combination therapy has minimal side effects and “is both tolerable and effective in curing prostate cancer.” ... vdAqF.dpuf

PostPosted: Sun Jan 25, 2015 9:19 am 
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New program reduces hospitalizations for youth with psychosis

If implemented nationally, the new model, designed in collaboration between Yale University and the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS), can significantly reduce the suffering, disability, and financial costs of schizophrenia and related disorders, according to the authors of the study.

“The model is a pragmatic, effective and economically feasible approach to early psychosis and one that is feasible to implement in real-world U.S. settings,” said Vinod Srihari, associate professor of psychiatry at Yale and lead author of the study.

Yale faculty modified international models to create the Specialized Treatment Early in Psychosis or (STEP) clinic, which provides comprehensive care for early psychosis patients and their caregivers.

The first episode of psychosis often occurs in the late teens or early 20s so clinicians need to adapt treatments to meet the needs of this population, the authors say. The patient is assigned to a team that coordinates medication, counseling, and social skills training, as well as education of family members.

The study randomly allocated 120 individuals who met criteria for first-episode psychosis to receive care at the STEP clinic or a referral to community providers based on their insurance coverage. Three out of four in STEP care avoided hospitalization in the next year, compared to about half in the control group. Also, patients in STEP were more likely to be in school, have jobs, or actively be seeking employment than those in usual systems of care.

The STEP clinic is based at the Connecticut Mental Health Center (CMHC), which is a public-academic partnership between Yale and DMHAS. The authors believe this is an optimal model for the delivery of care and innovative new services and can work in many areas of the country.

The STEP program on Jan. 22 launched a campaign called Mindmap designed to increase availability of services in towns surrounding New Haven.

“Age-appropriate, client-centered care based on research that has proven to be effective is of the utmost importance,” said Pat Rehmer, DMHAS commissioner. “These types of intervention can be vital to recovery.”

“The message is simple: Treatment is available, effective, and the earlier, the better,” Srihari said. ... hosis.html

PostPosted: Wed Jan 28, 2015 11:12 am 
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Anti-vaccination group encourages parents to join fake church

A controversial anti-vaccination group is encouraging people to sign up to a fake church because it may help them bypass Australia's emerging "no jab, no play" childcare laws.

Under the NSW government's 2013 law and the Victorian government's proposed law due to start in 2016, children who are not fully immunised are unable to enrol in childcare unless their parents declare they have a medical reason or personal, philosophical or religious objection.

To document a conscientious objection, parents must take a Medicare form to a GP to receive counselling about the risks and benefits of immunisation. The doctor can then be asked to sign the form, which must be sent to the federal government's department of human services.

The same form is required for families wanting to claim the Family Tax Benefit A, which is designed to assist with the cost of raising children.

But with some doctors refusing to sign the documents, the Australian Vaccination Skeptics Network Inc (formerly known as the Australian Vaccination Network, is spruiking the "Church of Conscious Living" as a religion that is opposed to vaccination.

A post on its facebook page recommends it for people who may not want to join the US-based Church of Christian Science "in order to get their children into preschool or childcare." The Church of Christian Science is the only religion known to discourage vaccination.

But the the Church of Conscious Living, founded eight years ago, is not registered as a church or charity with the federal government's Charities and Not-for-profits Commission, but rather a business with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission.

Furthermore, it appears to have been set up purely for people to claim exemption from vaccination. An AVN newsletter in December 2007 said the church was being created to make sure people's rights to refuse vaccination are not eroded.

"We have decided to create a 'religion', so, amongst other things, we can claim 'religious exemption', if the need ever arises, for ourselves and our children," it says, adding that it costs $25 to join.

Dr David Hawkes, a virologist and spokesman for pro-vaccination group, Stop the AVN, said the church was a devious sham designed to curtail proper discussion with a doctor about the science supporting the benefits of vaccination.

"None of the major religions, such as Judaism, Islam, Christianity, none of them have an issue with vaccination," he said.

"If you're 23 years old … and you choose not to have a blood transfusion or chemotherapy for cancer, I strongly believe that's your right but these decisions are being made for children who do not have a say in it."

A spokeswoman for the federal department of health said although it would "closely look" at the church, vaccination was not compulsory and parents could use any reason to refuse it.

"Setting up a church will not alter the requirement for parents to discuss vaccination with a doctor and obtain a signed objection form," she said.

The spokeswoman said there was no legislative or legal obligation for a doctor to sign a conscientious objection form, but the Australian Medical Association advises doctors to respect a patients' right to decide for their children after "the issues and risks have been explained to them". It says if a doctor refuses to sign any such forms, they should make people aware of this in the waiting room before a consultation so they do not pay for a consultation and leave disappointed.

The Australian Vaccination Skeptics Association and Church of Conscious Living did not respond to calls for comment.

Victorian Minister for Health Jill Hennessy did not comment on the church but said: "People are entitled to their opinions, but let's be very clear: not vaccinating a child puts them and other children at risk of dangerous diseases and illnesses." ... 2zcrc.html

PostPosted: Wed Jan 28, 2015 12:10 pm 
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Human error thought to be behind RPA hospital vaccine failure

An initial investigation into a major bungle in one of Sydney's biggest hospitals has pointed to human error as the culprit.

Almost 600 new mothers and their babies are at risk of contracting deadly diseases after vaccinations were incorrectly stored at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital.

It is understood temperature changes of the fridge were logged every day, but the discrepancies weren't reported.

Today, RPA was forced to admit the refrigerator, used to store "life-saving" vaccines, had been faulty for more than a year.

It serviced the 8 East postnatal ward, with 570 mothers thought to have been affected.

Naomi Praeger is one such mother, who gave birth to her son Levi in August.

"I put my faith in them and I trust a hospital when I go to a hospital so I expect that they would actually do the procedures they're meant to," she said.

The thermostat inside the fridge was off by a few degrees.

There were several vaccines inside, including measles, mumps and rubella, diptheria, tetanus and whooping cough.

It also held hepatitis B, which was given only to babies.

Women and babies who are affected will have to be revaccinated as a precaution, at a specialist clinic set up at Croydon Community Health Centre.

The hospital is adamant its other fridges are working properly.

An unhappy Health Minister today promised a wider investigation

"I have asked the ministry to conduct a thorough investigation to determine whether all our hospitals are compliant with medication storage protocols," Jillian Skinner said.

A clinical advisory line has been set up to provide women with information - that number is 1800 300 243. ... alfunction

PostPosted: Sat Jan 31, 2015 9:19 am 
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Leading academics underscore the importance of diet and nutrition for mental Health

Evidence is rapidly growing showing vital relationships between both diet quality and potential nutritional deficiencies and mental health, a new international collaboration led by the University of Melbourne and Deakin University has revealed.

Published in The Lancet Psychiatry today, leading academics state that as with a range of medical conditions, psychiatry and public health should now recognise and embrace diet and nutrition as key determinants of mental health.

Lead author, Dr Jerome Sarris from the University of Melbourne and a member of the International Society for Nutritional Psychiatry Research (ISNPR), said psychiatry is at a critical stage, with the current medically-focused model having achieved only modest benefits in addressing the global burden of poor mental health.

"While the determinants of mental health are complex, the emerging and compelling evidence for nutrition as a key factor in the high prevalence and incidence of mental disorders suggests that nutrition is as important to psychiatry as it is to cardiology, endocrinology and gastroenterology," Dr Sarris said.

"In the last few years, significant links have been established between nutritional quality and mental health. Scientifically rigorous studies have made important contributions to our understanding of the role of nutrition in mental health," he said.

Findings of the review revealed that in addition to dietary improvement, evidence now supports the contention that nutrient-based prescription has the potential to assist in the management of mental disorders at the individual and population level.

Studies show that many of these nutrients have a clear link to brain health, including omega-3s, B vitamins (particularly folate and B12), choline, iron, zinc, magnesium, S-adenosyl methionine (SAMe), vitamin D, and amino acids.

"While we advocate for these to be consumed in the diet where possible, additional select prescription of these as nutraceuticals (nutrient supplements) may also be justified," Dr Sarris said.

Associate Professor Felice Jacka, a Principal Research Fellow from Deakin University and president of the ISNPR noted that many studies have shown associations between healthy dietary patterns and a reduced prevalence of and risk for depression and suicide across cultures and age groups.

"Maternal and early-life nutrition is also emerging as a factor in mental health outcomes in children, while severe deficiencies in some essential nutrients during critical developmental periods have long been implicated in the development of both depressive and psychotic disorders," she said.

A systematic review published in late 2014 has also confirmed a relationship between 'unhealthy' dietary patterns and poorer mental health in children and adolescents. Given the early age of onset for depression and anxiety, these data point to dietary improvement as a way of preventing the initial incidence of common mental disorders.

Dr Sarris, an executive member of the ISNPR, believes that it is time to advocate for a more integrative approach to psychiatry, with diet and nutrition as key elements.

"It is time for clinicians to consider diet and additional nutrients as part of the treating package to manage the enormous burden of mental ill health," he said. ... ealth.aspx

PostPosted: Tue Feb 03, 2015 8:22 am 
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Bulk-billing and quick visits not linked

A survey of 2500 patients found those who were bulk-billed were most likely to have a chronic disease and/or a lower income.

Patients who have short GP appointments are no more likely to be bulk-billed than those who have longer appointments, a study has found.

The survey of nearly 2500 Australians, published in the Medical Journal of Australia, found there was no association between bulk-billing and the duration of the GP visit.

The findings come as the federal government prepares to cut Medicare rebates for standard GP visits by $5 from July, a cost that doctors may choose to pass on to their patients. The change will not affect those with concession cards or children under 16.

The survey found that 71 per cent of respondents had been bulk-billed for their most recent GP visit, saving them $34.

"There was no association between bulk-billing and duration of GP visit, age or sex," the researchers from University of Technology Sydney concluded.

They found that patients were more likely to be bulk-billed if they had a chronic disease and/or held a concession card.

Patients were less likely to be bulk-billed if they had a higher household income or attended a practice in a regional area.

The researchers said a surprising finding was that those with private insurance were more likely to be bulk-billed.

That could be explained by healthier individuals being more willing to discriminate between practices and better able to find bulk-billing GPs, they wrote.

The researchers said the current debate about increasing fees and reducing the Medicare rebate need to be approached with caution.

The groups that would be mainly affected by additional payments would be those with chronic disease and lower incomes, they said. ... inked/414/

PostPosted: Thu Feb 05, 2015 11:39 am 
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Queensland cancer survivors struggle unnoticed

Many Queensland cancer survivors are forced to grin and bear it this World Cancer Day as a Queensland-first research study reveals around 80 per cent are missing out on post-treatment support.

Conducted by Cancer Council Queensland, the 1000 Survivor Study is an Australian-first project assessing the physical, emotional and practical concerns of cancer survivors.

Spokeswoman Katie Clift said the survey was necessary due to rising rates in cancer diagnosis and survival rates.

"Due to an ageing and increasing population, ever greater numbers of people in the community are affected by cancer." Ms Clift said.

"There are more than 200,000 Queenslanders alive today after a diagnosis of cancer in the past 30 years, all of them uniquely impacted by the disease."

According to the study 94 per cent of Queensland cancer survivors experienced physical concerns such as energy, sexual function, concentration, neuropathy and pain following cancer treatment, while 95 per cent reported emotional concerns such as depression, grief and identity and fear of cancer recurring.

However, despite such circumstances, 78 per cent did not receive care to address one or more of their physical concerns, and 82 per cent did not seek help with coping regarding emotional matters.

The majority of survivors who didn't seek care and support for their concerns reported they had 'learned to live' with their condition.

Gritting teeth had been a familiar practice for Redcliffe-based personal trainer Kylee Sanson, who has been cancer-free for 14 years after being diagnosed with a melanoma when she was 22 and pregnant.

"I definitely suppressed myself a bit after my treatment – 'learn to live with it' are words you use and hear a lot, even though now we know there is so much support out there that we're just not using." Ms Sanson said.

"I was so young, so you think you're 10 feet tall and bullet proof, but now having two kids to think about it sunk in that this is something that's proven to be genetic.

"Not only have I got to treat myself and protect the skin that I live in but I'm also responsible for my children."

Although many cancer survivors bypassed post-treatment care due to denial and exhaustion from coping with their illness, Ms Sanson said the main roadblock could be lack of awareness, something she was keen to change.

"To be honest, I had no post-treatment care other than to check my stitches," she said.

"I just wasn't aware of the level of support that was out there and it's come a long way in 14 years.

"Advocating, for me, is almost therapy; to make people aware of the dangers of excessive sun exposure, as well as post-treatment care.

"It's about going to get a check regularly and overcoming fears.

"It starts with GP's, with the cancer surgeons and nurses; post-treatment care should a part of the conversation of your health strategy.

"You may be struggling and it may not even be the cancer, it could just be other life things, and if you just talk to people, like a GP or a counsellor or the Cancer Council you can at least become aware of what's going on and learn to manage."

Cancer Council Queensland recommends support groups, counselling sessions or just a call to its support line, which is manned by experienced cancer nurses every weekday.

13 11 20 provides information, resources, advice and support, answers to questions about all cancers and provides referrals to Cancer Council Queensland's free Cancer Counselling Service.

"It's important for us as community members to strengthen our connections with those affected by cancer, to ensure they can attain an optimal quality of life," Ms Clift said. ... 366iu.html

PostPosted: Sun Feb 08, 2015 9:05 am 
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How Much Sleep Do You Need?

The National Sleep Foundation has released new recommendations for sleep times. How much sleep you need depends on your age. Find out how much you need!

To create the new guidelines, the National Sleep Foundation gathered a panel of experts in the science of sleep as well as anatomy and physiology, pediatrics, neurology, gerontology and gynecology. The findings were published in the peer-reviewed journal Sleep Health: The Official Journal of the National Sleep Foundation.

Sleep deprivation comes with a slew of health concerns. Living with sleep debt can cause anxiety, depression, and even increase your risks for breast cancer and heart disease. Getting too much sleep may be just as bad as getting too little, however. Sleeping more than 10 hours a night have increased risk of obesity, stroke, diabetes, and poor mental health.

When it comes to kids, sleep ranges are a whole different story. Those growing bodies and developing brains need a lot more rest than we do. You’ll see that newborns need around twice as much sleep as adults, and that amount tapers as they get older.

The changes to sleep recommendations focused on children and teens, and the panel added two new age categories based on findings about sleep needs: Younger Adults and Older Adults. They narrowed and widened the sleep ranges for newborns, infants, toddlers, preschoolers, school age children, and teenagers. The only sleep range that didn’t change was for adults ages 26-64. You can see all of the new recommendations in the graphic below. ... -need.html

PostPosted: Wed Feb 11, 2015 8:35 am 
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Cancer News: Protein In Naked Mole Rat Could Help Prevent Cancer

A new protein has been found by scientists at the University of Rochester, Harvard University and Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the naked mole rat, a subterranean rodent, that could help prevent cancer. The protein was associated with locus, a cluster of genes that could be found in mice as well as humans. The findings were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a multidisciplinary science journal published weekly.

The genes, known as INK4, had the ability to synthesise three cancer-suppressing proteins, namely: p15INK4b, p16INK4a and ARF. These proteins stopped the cells from separating in the case of the cells being mutated. When Jorge Azpurua, a student-researcher, was looking forward to clone the P16 protein of the rat, which had a lifespan of 30 years and was known to never get cancer, he noticed that there was a fourth protein present and a result of the fusion of p15INK4b and p16INK4a. This protein was also capable in stopping the cells from separating.

The professor of Biology from the University of Rochester, Vera Gorbunova, said that the product of the two proteins was called pALTINK4a/b. He said that the researchers believe that the protein might contribute to the long age of the rat. He added that this could have also contributed to the ability to prevent tumours from growing in the rat.

According to News-Medical, the locus helped in carrying genetic instructions for synthesising the various cancer-fighting proteins. The locus that was found in the rats could encode four proteins that could fight cancer, while the ones in mice and humans had the ability to encode only three.

Through earlier research, Gorbunova and Andrei Seluanov, the assistant professor at the Department of Biology in the University of Rochester, had found HMW-HA as the chemical which resulted in the activation of the anti-cancer response of the locus.

According to Seluanov, INK4 was considered to be the most commonly mutated locus in cancer in humans. He said that when the gene was deleted, it resulted in the formation of tumours. He added that there was evidence to support the role of INK4 in ageing-related diseases like atherosclerosis. ... er-1419904

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