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Labor can be longer for obese pregnant women

PregnancyMay 16 06

Looking for yet another reason to stay svelte? Labor can be longer for obese pregnant women, a new Saint Louis University study finds.

The research, presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists in May, finds that it takes obese pregnant women who are given medication to induce labor longer to deliver their babies than women of normal body weight.

The obese women also needed more medication - a dinoprostone vaginal insert - to activate labor, and it took longer for the medicine to start working. The obese women also are more likely to have a cesarean deliver than a vaginal delivery.

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Elderly with breast cancer may be undertreated

Breast CancerMay 16 06

Women in their 80s with breast cancer tend to receive less intensive treatment compared with their younger counterparts, Israeli researchers report.

“According to our data, most women diagnosed with breast cancer at or after the age of 80, lived more than 6 years after diagnosis,” senior author Dr. Haim Gutman told Reuters Health. “A majority received less than the standard local treatment.”

Less than standard treatment was associated with somewhat increased risk of recurrence, although this “did not translate into statistically significant survival disadvantage,” he added.

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Work, motherhood a healthy combo for women: study

Gender: FemaleMay 16 06

Juggling a career along with being a wife or partner and parent may help to keep women healthy, scientists said on Monday.

After analyzing data from a study that tracked the health of Britons born in 1946, they found that women who had multiple roles were less likely than homemakers, single mothers or childless females to report poor health or to be obese in middle age.

“Women who occupied multiple roles over the long term reported relatively good health at age 54,” said Dr Anne McMunn, of University College London.

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Exercise, Diet May Protect Against Colorectal Cancer

CancerMay 16 06

Voluntary exercise and a restricted diet reduced the number and size of pre-cancerous polyps in the intestines of male mice and improved survival, according to a study by a University of Wisconsin-Madison research published May 13 in the journal Carcinogenesis.

The study is the first to suggest that a “negative energy balance” - produced by increasing the mice’s energy output by use of a running wheel, while maintaining a restricted calorie intake - appeared to be the important factor in inhibiting the growth of polyps, which are the forerunners of colorectal tumors, says lead author Lisa H. Colbert, assistant professor in the UW-Madison department of kinesiology.

For the study, Colbert and her co-authors used mice with a genetic mutation that predisposed them to develop intestinal polyps.

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Sunscreen ads not targeting high-risk groups

Public HealthMay 16 06

Magazines aimed at men and parents and families, as well as to fans of travel and outdoor recreation, rarely contain ads for sun protection products, a new study shows.

Researchers note that middle-aged and older men are the group least likely to use sunscreen, while they are at the greatest risk of dying from melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer.

Alan C. Geller of Boston University School of Medicine and colleagues reviewed six years’ worth of issues of 24 popular magazines for groups at high risk of skin cancer, including men, women, teens, parents, travelers and people who enjoy outdoor pastimes such as tennis, running, golf and bicycling.

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Surgery helps if even breast cancer spread: report

Breast CancerMay 16 06

Surgery greatly increases a patient’s chances of surviving with breast cancer, even if the cancer has spread by the time a woman is diagnosed, Swiss researchers reported on Monday.

Although many women around the world are simply offered what is known as palliative care, to help them live a little longer and make them comfortable while they wait to die, surgery could help them live much longer, the researchers found.

“Based on these findings, we believe that it is time to take a hard look at the current standard of care for breast cancer patients initially diagnosed with metastatic disease,” said Dr. Elisabetta Rapiti of the Geneva Cancer Registry at the University of Geneva, who led the study.

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Passive smoking associated with behavior problems in children and pre-teens

Children's HealthMay 03 06

A new Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center study shows that exposure to environmental tobacco smoke, even at extremely low levels, is associated with behavior problems in children and pre-teens.

While the study examined 5 to 11 year olds with asthma, the findings most likely could be extrapolated to include children without asthma who “act out” or experience depression and anxiety, according to Kimberly Yolton, Ph.D., a researcher at the Children’s Environmental Health Center at Cincinnati Children’s and the study’s main author

“This study provides further incentive for states to set public health standards to protect children from exposure to environmental tobacco smoke,” says Dr. Yolton.

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Experts say bird flu virus survives longer

FluMay 03 06

Leading influenza experts urged nations not to lower their guard against the deadly and hardy H5N1 virus, saying it now survives longer in higher temperatures and in wet and moist conditions.

Scientists previously found the virus to be most active and transmissible among birds in the cooler months from October to March in the northern hemisphere, and many people were hoping for some respite in the coming summer months.

But influenza expert Robert Webster warned against complacency and underestimating the virus, which made its first documented jump to humans from birds in 1997 in Hong Kong, killing six people.

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Melatonin, taken orally can improve ability to sleep

Sleep AidMay 03 06

Researchers from the Divisions of Sleep Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School have found in a double-blind placebo-controlled clinical study, that melatonin, taken orally during non-typical sleep times, significantly improves an individual’s ability to sleep.

This finding is particularly important for rotating or night-shift workers, travelers with jet lag and individuals with advanced or delayed sleep phase syndrome.

The findings appear in the May 1, 2006 issue of the journal Sleep.

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Suicide risk linked to month of birth

Psychiatry / PsychologyMay 03 06

People born in the spring or early summer in the northern hemisphere have a 17 percent increased risk of committing suicide than those with birthdays in the autumn or early winter, researchers said on Tuesday.

They found that women born in April, May and June were 29.6 percent more likely to take their own lives while men had a 13.7 percent increased risk.

“Our results support the hypotheses that there is a seasonal effect in the monthly birth rates of people who kill themselves and that there is a disproportionate excess of such people born between late spring and midsummer compared with the other months,” Dr. Emad Salib, of Liverpool University, reported in the British Journal of Cancer.

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Sleep apnea raises mortality risk after stroke

StrokeMay 03 06

Sleep apnea, a common problem involving short periods when breathing stops during sleep, is often seen in stroke patients and appears to be associated with an increased risk of death, Swiss researchers report in the medical journal Stroke.

However, upon further analysis, the only single factor that increased the risk of death after stroke was older age.

Dr. Claudio L. Bassetti of Poliklinik, Zurich and colleagues note that despite being widespread, risk factors and other characteristics of sleep apnea in stroke patients are not widely known.

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Successful Treatment of Alcoholism Found in The Doctor’s Office

Psychiatry / PsychologyMay 03 06

Alcoholism can be successfully treated in primary care settings, when brief sessions with health professionals are coupled with either the drug naltrexone or specialized counseling, according to new clinical trial results published in JAMA.

The randomized, controlled trial, called “Combining Medications and Behavioral Interventions for Alcoholism,” or COMBINE, is the largest ever conducted of drug and behavioral treatments for alcohol dependence. COMBINE included 1,383 subjects at 11 clinical sites across the country. Brown Medical School oversaw the largest site, enrolling 133 patients through Roger Williams Medical Center.

Robert Swift, M.D., served as principal investigator of the Roger Williams site and is an author of the JAMA report. Swift, a professor of psychiatry and human behavior and associate director of the Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies at Brown Medical School and associate chief of staff for research at the Providence V.A. Medical Center, has studied alcoholism and drug addiction for more than 20 years. He said the COMBINE results send a clear message to problem drinkers -  and the doctors who care for them.

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Low-Intensity Therapy, Meds May Provide More Accessible Alcoholism Treatment

Psychiatry / PsychologyMay 03 06

Low-intensity therapy offered by medical doctors, combined with either medication or specialized behavior therapy, can effectively treat alcoholism, making treatment more readily available to people who need it, according to a study conducted by researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and numerous other sites nationwide.

The study, conducted over the past five years and sponsored by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), appears in the current issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. The NIAAA is a component of the National Institutes of Health.

The results show that medical doctors and other health-care professionals who prescribed the medication naltrexone and held nine brief sessions with the patient (called medical management) were as successful in treating alcohol dependence as when the patient also receives intensive behavioral counseling, for example, in an alcohol treatment facility. Medical doctors who held the nine sessions with patients but did not prescribe naltrexone were not as successful as those who did or as those whose patients also received more intensive behavioral counseling.

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Nonhormonal Therapies May Offer Relief From Hot Flashes, With Possible Adverse Effects

Gender: FemaleMay 03 06

A meta-analysis of previously published studies examining the use of nonhormonal therapies for treating menopausal hot flashes finds that some therapies are effective, but less so than estrogen, and have possible adverse effects that may restrict their use, according to an article in the May 3 issue of JAMA.

Hot flashes are the most common symptom related to menopausal transition. They are experienced by more than 50 percent of menopausal women, can persist for several years after menopause, and for some women can interfere with activities or sleep to such a degree that treatment is requested, according to background information in the article. Estrogen has been used as a hormone supplement for nearly 60 years to treat menopausal symptoms. However, recent studies reporting adverse effects such as cardiovascular events and breast cancer have raised important concerns about its use and have led to increased interest in other therapies for improving menopausal symptoms. Evidence of the efficacy and adverse effects of nonhormonal therapies is generally lacking or unclear.

Heidi D. Nelson, M.D., M.P.H., of the Oregon Health and Science University and Providence Health System, Portland, Ore., and colleagues conducted a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials to compare the efficacy and adverse effects of nonhormonal therapies for menopausal hot flashes.

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CT Colonography Even Safer Than Previously Reported

Emergencies / First AidMay 02 06

The safety profile for CT colonography (CTC) is extremely favorable, particularly for the purposes of screening patients with no symptoms and when distending the colon using an automated carbon dioxide technique, a finding that goes against the higher complication rates for CTC reported by other groups, according to a new study.

For this study, researchers analyzed 21,923 CTC procedures, including both diagnostic and screening procedures. Colonic distention was achieved by manual room air insufflation in 60% of cases and by automated carbon dioxide delivery in 40%. No perforations were recorded in patients undergoing screening CTC or with those who underwent the automated carbon dioxide delivery technique.

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