Welcome to this week’s Health and Fitness. This is an Open Thread.
As is now custom, I’ll try to include the more interesting and pertinent articles that will help the community awareness of their health and bodies. This essay will not be posted anywhere else due to constraints on my time. Please feel free to make suggestions for improvement and ask questions, I’ll answer as best I can.
(Reuters) – People who don’t brush their teeth twice a day have an increased risk of heart disease, scientists said on Friday, adding scientific weight to 19th century theories about oral health and chronic disease.
British researchers studied nearly 12,000 adults in Scotland and found those with poor oral hygiene had a 70 percent extra risk of heart disease compared with those who brushed twice a day and who were less likely to have unhealthy gums.
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – People who regularly feel stressed out by their jobs may have a higher risk of developing asthma than those with a more-relaxed work atmosphere, a new study suggests.
High on-the-job stress has been linked to a number of health consequences, including heightened risks of heart disease, diabetes and depression.
The new findings, published in the journal Allergy, are the first to show an association between work stress and later asthma risk, according to the researchers.
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – People who get plenty of vitamin K from food may have a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes than those who get less of the vitamin, a new study suggests.
Researchers found that among more than 38,000 Dutch adults they followed for a decade, those who got the most vitamin K in their diets were about 20 percent less likely to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes during the study period.
The findings appear to be the first to show a relationship between vitamin K and diabetes risk, and do not prove that the vitamin is the reason for the lower risk, write the researchers, led by Dr. Joline W.J. Beulens of the University Medical Center Utrecht in the Netherlands.
(Reuters) – Indoor tanning beds sharply increase the risk of melanoma, the deadliest kind of skin cancer, and the risk increases over time, U.S. researchers said on Thursday, and others experts called for tighter regulation.
They said people who use any type of tanning bed for any amount of time are 74 percent more likely to develop melanoma, and frequent users are 2.5 to 3 times more likely to develop the skin cancer than people who never use them.
The study confirms prior research linking indoor tanning beds with melanoma, and answers any lingering questions about whether the practice is safe, or if the risk depends on the type of tanning bed used.
(Reuters) – About half of the 65 million people in the United States who have high blood pressure now have it under control, up from 27 percent two decades ago, U.S. researchers said on Tuesday.
But the overall rate of Americans who have high blood pressure has not changed in recent years, reflecting the need for better prevention efforts, they wrote in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The Institute of Medicine earlier this year declared high blood pressure, or hypertension, a “neglected disease” that costs the U.S. health system $73 billion a year.
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – A small study suggests that a surgical treatment generally used on patients with tumors and certain brain disorders may put a stop to nosebleeds that won’t stop any other way.
The surgery – which involves injecting coils into the arteries of the nose through arteries in the leg – isn’t for everyone. For most people, home remedies such as pressure and tissues work just fine. If they’re not enough, doctors may pack the nasal passages with gauze, or sear the bleeding shut using cauterization.
But the author of the study told Reuters Health that about one percent of the population – generally older adults taking blood thinners – suffers from uncontrollable nosebleeds severe enough that surgery may be considered.
(Reuters) – Backtracking by international donors in funding for HIV/AIDS may undermine years of progress and is already putting lives at risk, the health aid group Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said on Thursday.
In a report on AIDS in eight sub-Saharan African countries, it said major donors have decided to cap, cut or halt spending on HIV treatment and AIDS drugs in the past year and a half.
Major donors include the United States, the World Bank, the health funding agency UNITAID, and backers of the Global Fund.
(Reuters) – In a study that supports the widespread use of drugs to help control the AIDS pandemic, researchers said on Wednesday that HIV patients who took the drugs were far less likely to infect their partners.
Using the drug cocktail reduced the likelihood of transmission by 92 percent, the researchers reported in the journal Lancet.
(Reuters Health) – Summer weather has overtaken much of the U.S., but keep this new study in mind next winter: Even though the number of injuries related to snowblower use has leveled off in recent years, snowblowers still pose a “serious injury threat,” say researchers, who suggest there are ways to protect yourself.
Although all body sites were susceptible to injury, the most severe risk was to the fingers and hands, the study said.
(Reuters) – Healthy adults who drink one to two glasses of alcohol per day have a smaller chance of developing one form of diabetes than those who abstain from alcohol, according to Dutch research published on Tuesday.
The 10-year study of 35,000 adults, carried out by the National Institute for Public Health and Environment and Dutch medical and scientific centers, focused on Type 2 diabetes, which occurs mainly in people over 40 years old.
(Reuters) – A hepatitis C treatment being developed by Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc led to a 75 percent cure rate in a pivotal trial of previously untreated patients, the company said on Tuesday.
The results from the first late-stage Phase III study of telaprevir came in at the high end of expectations for a cure rate of 70 to 75 percent, with slightly lower discontinuation rates due to side effects than previously seen.
(Reuters) – U.S. health regulators have cautioned doctors and patients of an increased risk of fractures of the hip, wrist, and spine from high doses or long-term use of a widely used class of drugs to control the amount of acid in the stomach.
The class of heartburn drugs, called proton pump inhibitors, include prescription brands such as AstraZeneca Plc’s top-selling Nexium and the company’s Prilosec, an older generic treatment that is also available over the counter at a lower dosage strength.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said on Tuesday that studies suggest a possible increased risk of bone fractures with the use of proton pump inhibitors for one year or longer, or at high doses.
(Reuters) – European scientists have found a full range of markers in the blood of kidney transplant patients which could predict whether their new organ will be a success and whether they need large amounts of medication to help it.
The researchers said on Tuesday the finding may help doctors to give more personalized care to transplant patients and to modify the amount of powerful immunosuppressant drugs they have to take to prevent their bodies from rejecting a new kidney.
(Reuters) – Smokers have at least a few more months to light up in Spain’s restaurants, bars and cafes.
The government had hoped to tighten the rules on smoking in public places this year, but Health Minister Trinidad Jimenez said on Tuesday that tougher restrictions are unlikely to be in place before the beginning of 2011.
(Reuters) – The first head-to-head study comparing swine flu vaccines in Britain found that children given a shot containing a booster, or adjuvant, had a stronger immune response than those receiving one without it.
GlaxoSmithKline’s vaccine Pandemrix, containing the adjuvant AS03, was associated with more reactions than Baxter’s Celvapan but experts said the somewhat higher rate of fevers and injection site irritations was not a major concern.
The use of adjuvants, which are designed to boost the body’s response to a vaccine, has divided health authorities in Europe and the United States.
(Reuters) – A gene silencing approach can save monkeys from high doses of the most lethal strain of Ebola virus in what researchers call the most viable route yet to treating the deadly and frightening infection.
They used small interfering RNAs or siRNAs, a new technology being developed by a number of companies, to hold the virus at bay for a week until the immune system could take over.
U.S. government researchers and a small Canadian biotech company, Tekmira Pharmaceuticals, worked together to develop the new approach, described in the Lancet medical journal on Thursday.
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – The number of Cesarean sections performed at hospitals across British Columbia is highly variable, Canadian researchers have found.
Even when accounting for differences in women’s preferences and conditions that could complicate vaginal delivery, C-section rates varied from less than 15 percent to more than 27 percent of all births.
“Thus, our results illustrate what we believe to be ‘unwarranted variation,'” the researchers write in the latest issue of the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology, noting that mothers requested C-sections in only 2 percent of the cases.
According to the new report, earlier studies have found marked variation in the United States as well. Both Canadian and US experts agree that the current Cesarean rate — in the US, one-third of all births — is too high.
May 27, 2010 — Far too many stroke patients are being discharged from hospitals without receiving prescriptions for statin medications, a new study shows.
This is alarming because previous studies have shown that patients who take the cholesterol-lowering medications after a stroke reduce their chances of recurrent events, the researchers report.
The study is published in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association. It shows that of 173,284 patients in one large database of stroke patients, 83.5% were prescribed statins at the time of their discharge from a hospital. This means that nearly one in five stroke patients don’t receive a potentially life-saving medication.
May 28, 2010 — Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is on the rise among women after decades of decline, according to a new study, and environmental factors — including birth control pills with lower doses of protective estrogen — may help explain the increase.
“It’s a small increase,” says researcher Sherine Gabriel, MD, the William J. and Charles H. Mayo Professor of Epidemiology and Medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. “But the reason it’s important is that we and many others have been documenting a systematic decline in the incidence of rheumatoid arthritis for several decades.”
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Smoking during pregnancy, daycare attendance and breastfeeding might be some of the main factors people can change to affect whether their infants develop wheezing, an international study suggests.
In a study of close to 29,000 children in two European and four Latin American countries, researchers found that in general, certain factors were consistently linked with the risk of infant wheezing.
(Reuters Health) – “Bubble boy disease” is now part of national U.S. newborn screening guidelines, adopted by Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius last week.
The disease — formally known as severe combined immunodeficiency, or SCID – was named for David Vetter, a Texas boy who spent his short life inside a sterile plastic cocoon to avoid infections.
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – The stimulant drug Vyvanse improves attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in adolescents beginning as early as the first week of treatment, according to a new study.
“We saw a 50 percent improvement in symptoms” compared with placebo, Dr. Ann Childress told Reuters Health. Childress presented her group’s findings this week at the American Psychiatric Association annual meeting in New Orleans.
“Vyvanse improved symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity compared to placebo,” she noted.
Vyvanse is currently approved in the US for treatment of ADHD in children aged 6 to 12 years and in adults.
(Reuters Health) – Helping kids with autism learn how to communicate doesn’t improve their symptoms, British researchers reported at an international meeting on the developmental disorder.
But it does benefit parent-child interaction, the study, which was also published in the journal The Lancet, shows.
(Reuters Health) – Injuries to young people related to the use of crutches, wheelchairs and walkers are on the rise — up an estimated 8 percent annually between 1991 and 2008, research shows.
According to Ohio researchers, the use of these “mobility aids,” while intended to help people get around, sent more than 3,000 people aged 19 or younger to the emergency room in 2008, alone.
(Reuters Health) – Children and teenagers living in the most-rural parts of the U.S. are as likely to die by gun violence as those in big cities, a new study finds.
The findings, say researchers, counter the common belief that gun violence is mainly an urban problem.
The study found that from 1999 through 2006, 23,649 Americans age 19 or younger died from gunshots. Rates in the most-rural and most-urban counties were nearly the same — at 4 deaths per 100,000 children and teens, and 4.6 per 100,000, respectively.
(Reuters) – Italian scientists have found a significant link between juvenile diabetes and a common virus that usually only causes a mild infection — a discovery that may give clues as to what triggers the disease.
In a small study of 112 children with juvenile diabetes, Antonio Toniolo of the University of Insubria in Varese, Italy, found that more than 80 percent had evidence of enterovirus infection in their blood.
Enteroviruses are viruses that can thrive in the gastrointestinal tract.
(Reuters Health) – The rate of severe poisonings from battery ingestion among U.S. children has risen in the past 25 years, along with the growing use of lithium “button” batteries in a wide range of consumer products, new research shows.
The number of children who die or suffer serious injuries each year remains quite small, but such severe cases are accounting for a growing proportion of all button-battery poisonings, researchers report in the journal Pediatrics.
(Reuters Health) – Researchers in Australia say they’ve found a simple and effective way to cut the risk of falls in elderly people who wear bifocals or other “multifocus” lens glasses: Have them wear single lens distance glasses when they go outdoors.
Multifocus glasses correct both close and distant vision. While such glasses are convenient, studies have shown that their wearers have a high risk of falls when outside their homes and walking up or down stairs. The reason? These types of glasses impair distant depth perception, which could impair an older person’s balance.
May 28, 2010 — Short bursts of vigorous exercise — the kind that makes you really break a sweat and increases your heart rate — may help buffer the devastating effects that stress can have on cellular aging, a new study finds.
Brief bouts of vigorous physical activity reduced one of the key signs of cellular aging: telomere shortening. Telomeres are tiny strips of genetic material that look like tails on the ends of our cells. Telomere shortening is a known indicator of aging in cells. The study appears in the May 26 online issue of PLoS ONE.
May 26, 2010 (New Orleans) — Simply spending more time with the doctor may help people with depression feel better.
That’s according to researchers who analyzed data from major studies pitting the antidepressant Effexor against placebo in people with depression.
Patients on placebo experienced substantial improvements in mood as the number of tests given at each visit increased, says study researcher Jeff Musgnung, MT, MS, of Pfizer Inc.
(Reuters Health) – Adding to evidence that mental health conditions may affect heart health, a new study finds that veterans with anxiety disorders have an increased risk of heart attack.
Using medical records from nearly 97,000 U.S. veterans, researchers found that those with any of several anxiety disorders had a higher risk of suffering a heart attack over the next seven years than vets without the mental health conditions.
(Reuters) – After spending two weeks on a sun-drenched island off Jamaica with 12 Ukrainian beauties, British multi-millionaire Paul Downes went off the rails.
Instead of sticking to his original 250,000-pound ($365,000) scheme of picking his perfect wife from the glamorous candidates he had flown to the island, Downes, 50, found himself in the grip of a manic episode, proclaiming himself not only the creator of mankind but the creator of God.
That definitely was not in the script.
(Reuters Health) – Psychiatry has lost its soul.
That’s how grimly Dr. Daniel Carlat, a psychiatrist in private practice outside of Boston, characterizes the state of his profession.
“Over the last 20 to 30 years, psychiatry has really transformed itself from a profession in which we try to understand people and understand their psychology — and talk to them and help them that way — into a profession in which we diagnose diseases, and we medicate those diseases,” says Carlat.
(Reuters) – A milkshake containing 2,010 calories – equivalent to eating 68 strips of bacon or 30 chocolate chip cookies – has topped a list of the 20 worst drinks in America compiled by Men’s Health magazine.
The Cold Stone PB&C milkshake, made with peanut butter, chocolate ice cream and milk, contains 68 grams of saturated fat and 153 grams of sugar, according to nutritional details on the company’s website.
(Reuters) – Laws requiring U.S. restaurant chains to list calorie counts have not stopped them from offering unhealthy meals that pack in calories, fat and salt, a group that encourages healthy food said on Tuesday.
A pancake breakfast providing 1,380 calories, a single-serve pizza that packs two days’ worth of sodium and a pasta dish swimming in four day’s worth of fat top a list published by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI).
The group, which “outs” the calorie, fat and sodium counts of America’s favorite foods every year, said it looked for evidence that restaurants are trimming back their offerings in the face of new laws and political pressure.
They found little.
(Reuters Health) – A small new study has found that taking soy supplements may help postmenopausal women slim down.
The effect, however, differed between African-Americans and whites: While white women lost more fat around their middles, black women showed greater overall reductions in body fat, researchers found.
(Reuters) – Governments around the world could save huge health costs and avert millions of early deaths if they introduced laws to cut salt levels in food, a top World Health Organization (WHO) nutrition adviser said on Tuesday.
Franco Cappuccio, head of the WHO’s collaborating center for nutrition, said voluntary moves by the food industry had brought some progress, but lawmakers should now harness the scientific evidence on salt and seek to change the tastes of nations.
(Reuters) – Drinking fewer sugary drinks may help lower blood pressure, U.S. researchers said on Monday in findings adding to a growing body of research supporting cutting back on sweetened beverages.
They found overweight people with high blood pressure who drank one less sugar-laden beverage a day significantly lowered their blood pressure over 18 months.
For most Americans this means cutting soft drink intake in half.
(Reuters Health) – Consumers who opt for organic foods often believe they are improving their health, but there is currently no strong evidence that organics bring nutrition-related health benefits, a new research review finds.
A “disappointingly small” number of well-designed studies have looked at whether organic foods may have health benefits beyond their conventional counterparts’, according to the review, by researchers with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Health in the UK.
Moreover, they found, what studies have been done have largely focused on short-term effects of organic eating — mainly antioxidant activity in the body — rather than longer-term health outcomes. And most of the antioxidant studies failed to find differences between organic and conventional diets.
The review, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, adds to findings reported last year by the same research team.
May 28, 2010 — Women who do weight-lifting exercise routines may be better off drinking two large glasses of milk than sugar-based energy drinks after workout regimens, a new study shows.
McMaster University researchers in Canada report they found that women who drank two large glasses of milk after weight-lifting exercises gained more muscle and lost more fat than women who drank sugar-based energy drinks.
The finding is published in the June issue of Medicine and Science in Sport and Exercise.