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Dietary antioxidants cut elderly eye disease risk

Eye / Vision ProblemsDec 28 05

High amounts of beta-carotene, vitamins C and E, and zinc in the diet may help stave off age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a leading cause of blindness in the elderly, new research suggests.

In a previous study, high-dose supplementation with these antioxidants was shown to slow the progression of AMD, but the effect of regular dietary consumption in preventing this eye disease was unclear, according to the report in Wednesday’s Journal of the American Medical Association.

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Education persuades young women to avoid douching

Sexual HealthDec 28 05

Education about the possible health risks of douching can convince teenage girls and young women to give up the practice, a new study shows.

Researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham found that three quick counseling sessions with young women at their clinic were enough to persuade nearly half to give up douching.

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Blood-thinner dose errors can cause bleeding

HeartDec 28 05

Some heart patients are given too large a dose of blood thinner at the hospital, which can lead to excessive bleeding, researchers said on Tuesday.

The dosing errors found in 42 percent of more than 30,000 cases stemmed from factors including physicians using a “one size fits all” dosing criteria, underestimation of the importance of using the right dosage or a lack of information about a patient’s weight or other indicators.

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New drug shows promise in fighting Tuberculosis

Drug NewsDec 28 05

Scientists from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, have determined how a promising drug candidate attacks the bacterium that causes tuberculosis (TB). Published online this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the finding may help scientists optimize the drug candidate, PA-824, which targets Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M. tb).

“PA-824, now in early stage clinical trials, holds promise for shortening the TB treatment regimen, which is currently cumbersome and lengthy,” says NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D. “This new finding will allow a streamlined approach for making improved versions of the drug.”

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Blue-green algae shows promise as a natural weapon against Alzheimer’s

NeurologyDec 28 05

A compound isolated from a cyanobacterium, a type of blue-green algae known as Nostoc, shows promise of becoming a natural drug candidate for fighting Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases, according to an in vitro study by researchers in Switzerland. It is believed to be the first time that a potent agent against Alzheimer’s has been isolated from cyanobacteria, commonly known as ‘pond scum.’ The study was published in the Dec. 26 issue of the Journal of Natural Products, a monthly peer-reviewed joint publication of the American Chemical Society and the American Society of Pharmacognosy.

Cyanobacteria and other marine natural products have been increasingly found to be a promising source of drug candidates for fighting a variety of human diseases, including cancer and bacterial infections, but their chemistry has been largely unexplored, experts say.

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Post cardiac surgery heart irregularities reduced by medication

HeartDec 28 05

Use of the medication amiodarone is associated with one-half the incidence of atrial tachyarrhythmias (rapid, abnormal heart beat) following cardiac surgery, according to a study in the December 28 issue of JAMA.

Atrial tachyarrhythmias, usually atrial fibrillation or atrial flutter, often occur immediately after cardiac surgery and are the most common postoperative complication, according to background information in the article. The incidence of sustained atrial tachyarrhythmias after coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery is approximately 30 percent; after valve surgery, approximately 40 percent; and after combined CABG and valve replacement/repair surgery, approximately 50 percent.

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Home Care Tips to Help Wounds Heal

Public HealthDec 28 05

A slip with a kitchen knife, a spill off a bike or a fall on the sidewalk. It’s not uncommon to have a mishap that breaks the skin. When a wound occurs, your body quickly begins regeneration and repair. You can facilitate healing with proper home care.

The December issue of Mayo Clinic Women’s HealthSource offers these tips:

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Daily dose of Vitamin D cuts cancer risk

CancerDec 28 05

According to cancer prevention specialists, taking vitamin D3 daily appears to lower the risk of cancer by up to as much 50 percent.

The specialists at the Moores Cancer Center at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) Medical Center, say that 1,000 international units (IU) of vitamin D3 daily protects against colon, breast, and ovarian cancer.

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Behavioral therapies aid elderly with insomnia

Sleep AidDec 27 05

Therapies focused on changing sleep habits may be a good alternative to sleeping pills for older adults with insomnia, a research review suggests.

The review of 23 clinical trials found that behavioral therapies aimed at changing people’s habits and attitudes regarding sleep were generally effective in helping older adults get a better night’s sleep.

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Altered cells deliver Parkinson’s therapy to brain

GeneticsDec 27 05

Genetically modified nerve ‘progenitor’ cells can be used as mini-pumps to deliver nerve growth factor to the brain, a new study in animals shows.

The results suggest such an approach could be used to treat Parkinson’s disease and other brain diseases in humans, Dr. Clive D. Svendsen of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and colleagues report.

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Later bedtime after meal may ease heartburn

Bowel ProblemsDec 27 05

If you suffer from acid reflux disease, you may be going to bed too soon after your evening meal.

A shorter dinner-to-bed interval is significantly associated with an increased risk of gastro-esophageal reflux disease, or GERD, according to researchers in Japan.

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After Gastric Bypass Surgery, Important to Check Vitamin B1 Deficiency

Weight LossDec 27 05

A deficiency in vitamin B1 can be a serious complication following a popular surgery to treat obesity, according to a case study published in the December 27, 2005 issue of Neurology, the scientific journal of the American Academy of Neurology. If untreated, vitamin B1 deficiency can lead to Wernicke encephalopathy, a severe neurological condition.

In the study, a 35-year-old woman developed many difficulties after gastric bypass (bariatric) surgery for obesity. Difficulties included nausea, anorexia, fatigue, hearing loss, forgetfulness, and ataxia, or an inability to coordinate muscle movements. By the 12th week following surgery, she had lost 40 pounds and had difficulty walking and concentrating.

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Milk thistle ineffective for liver disease

Bowel ProblemsDec 26 05

Milk thistle, an herbal remedy used worldwide for liver disease, does not appear to be effective, and there is not enough evidence to conclude that it is safe, an international team of researchers has concluded.

“We can’t see beneficial effects, we can’t exclude harmful effects, and in order to know more we need to do more randomized trials to find out do they actually help,” said Dr. Christian Gluud of Copenhagen University Hospital in Denmark, the study’s lead author.

The market for milk thistle is enormous, Gluud noted, given that as many as 1 billion people around the world have liver disease due to alcoholism or hepatitis B or C. It could even be larger, he added, because some people may decide to take milk thistle for prevention.

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New Neurons Take Baby Steps in the Adult Brain

NeurologyDec 23 05

In experiments with mice, scientists from Johns Hopkins’ Institute for Cell Engineering have discovered the steps required to integrate new neurons into the brain’s existing operations.

For more than a century, scientists thought the adult brain could only lose nerve cells, not gain them, but in fact, new neurons do form during adulthood in all mammals, including humans, and become a working part of the adult brain in mice at the very least.

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Want to stop snoring? Try the didgeridoo

NeurologyDec 23 05

Kept awake at night by a snoring partner? The answer to your woes could lie—believe it or not—with the Australian didgeridoo.

Researchers in Switzerland examined 25 patients who suffered from snoring and moderate obstructive sleep apnea syndrome, both common sleep disorders.

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