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Diabetes link with cancer seen in Japanese study

DiabetesSep 27 06

A large study of Japanese adults found those with diabetes were more likely to develop cancer, especially of certain organs such as the pancreas and liver, researchers said on Monday.

Men with diabetes in the study of nearly 98,000 people were 27 percent more likely than non-diabetics to be diagnosed with cancer, the study by the National Cancer Center in Tokyo found. Women afflicted with diabetes were also more at risk for cancer, though the association was not as clear as with men.

Study author Manami Inoue wrote in this month’s Archives of Internal Medicine that researchers have suspected a link between the two diseases but have not had conclusive evidence.

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Pelvic Exams without Stirrups May Improve Women’s Health

Gender: FemaleSep 27 06

No matter how many pelvic examinations a woman has, it’s unlikely she’ll ever feel at ease about being asked to place her feet up in metal stirrups. Still, the stirrups position is thought to afford the best view of the vulvovaginal area and facilitate proper placement of exam instruments. According to the findings of a new study, however, there may be an acceptable, less vexing alternative, reports the October 2006 issue of Harvard Women’s Health Watch.

In a randomized trial of stirrups versus no stirrups for routine gynecological exams, researchers found that women who were allowed to keep their feet on the examining table felt significantly more comfortable than those whose feet were placed in stirrups. The study also demonstrated that it’s possible to perform pelvic exams and obtain Pap smears - important screening tests for cervical cancer - without using stirrups.

For some women, feelings of exposure, discomfort, or even pain during exams are potential barriers to getting gynecological care. Having the no-stirrups option might encourage more women see their doctors regularly for Pap smears.

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Heart attacks decline after smoking ban

HeartSep 27 06

A Colorado city ban on smoking at workplaces and in public buildings may have sparked a steep decline in heart attacks, researchers reported on Monday.

In the 18 months after a no-smoking ordinance took effect in Pueblo in 2003, hospital admissions for heart attacks for city residents dropped 27 percent, according to the study led by Dr. Carl Bartecchi, a clinical professor of medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Denver.

“Heart attack hospitalizations did not change significantly for residents of surrounding Pueblo County or in the comparison city of Colorado Springs, neither of which have non-smoking ordinances,” said the American Heart Association, which published the study in its journal Circulation.

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Bird flu experts call for sharing virus samples

FluSep 27 06

International experts on Tuesday called on countries to share freely all influenza virus samples and genetic sequencing data, key to developing a vaccine against a potential bird flu pandemic.

The appeal was among recommendations issued by the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) new influenza pandemic task force, whose experts held a first, closed-door meeting in Geneva.

The 21-member task force was launched last May to advise the WHO’s director-general on technical issues amid fears that the H5N1 virus could spark a human pandemic and could kill millions.

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Exercise curbs precancerous changes in the colon

CancerSep 27 06

Regular, moderate-to-vigorous aerobic exercise can reduce cellular changes in the tissue lining the colon that can lead to the formation of colon polyps and colon cancer, a study suggests.

“This shows that you can see a biological effect at the tissue level of exercise,” Dr. Anne McTiernan of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle told Reuters Health. “This supports the observational studies that people who exercise have a lower risk of colon cancer.”

However, the effects of exercise were only seen among men in the current study. This may have been because women just didn’t exercise as hard, McTiernan offers, or because their workouts reduced their levels of estrogen, which protects against colon cancer.

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Childhood vaccines do not raise brain disease risk

Children's HealthSep 27 06

Childhood vaccination against whooping cough (also known as pertussis) and measles is not associated with an increased risk for encephalopathy, a disease of the brain, according to a new report.

Encephalopathy or encephalitis have been reported to occur with increased frequency after receipt of whole-cell pertussis (DTP) vaccine or combined measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, but the association remains controversial.

Paula Ray from Kaiser Permanente Vaccine Study Center, Oakland, California and colleagues used data from 4 study sites to re-evaluate whether whole-cell pertussis and measles vaccination are associated with encephalopathy or encephalitis. In all, 452 cases of encephalopathy were identified in records from more than 2 million children.

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Asthma may prompt sickle cell pain in children

AsthmaSep 27 06

Painful episodes in children with sickle cell disease (SCD) and asthma are temporally associated with respiratory symptoms, doctors from St. Louis, Missouri, have noticed.

“In children SCD and asthma, respiratory symptoms are a risk factor for painful SCD episodes within 96 hours,” they report.

SCD is an inherited disorder most common among African Americans that causes normally round blood cells to take on a “sickle” shape, which interferes with normal circulation and can cause a variety of serious health problems.

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Understanding Food Nutrition Labels Challenging for Many People

Food & NutritionSep 27 06

In one of the most rigorous studies ever conducted to determine how well people comprehend the information provided on food nutrition labels, researchers have found that the reading and math skills of a significant number of people may not be sufficient to extract the needed information, according to an article published in the November issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Using standardized and validated tests for literacy (REALM -Rapid Estimate of Adult Literacy in Medicine) and numeracy (WRAT3 - Wide Range Achievement Test), researchers from Vanderbilt University Medical Center surveyed 200 primary care patients from a wide socioeconomic range. A Nutrition Label Survey (NLS), designed with input from registered dietitians, primary care providers, and experts in health literacy/numeracy to evaluate patient understanding of current nutrition labels, was used to measure comprehension of current food nutrition labels. One part of the NLS asked subjects to interpret food labels, such as determining carbohydrate or caloric content of an amount of food consumed. The other part asked patients to choose which of two foods had more or less of a certain nutrient, giving patients a 50/50 chance to guess the correct food item. Also, half of the survey questions involved products that were clearly labeled on their package as “reduced carb,” “low carb,” or designed for “a low-carb diet.”

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Early Statin Therapy for Patients Who Had Acute Coronary Syndromes Reduces Death, Cardiovascular Eve

HeartSep 27 06

Early, intensive therapy with statin medications reduces death and cardiovascular events for patients who have had heart attacks or other acute heart events, according to an analysis of previous studies published in the September 25 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Statins, commonly taken to lower cholesterol levels, have clearly been shown to benefit patients with cardiovascular disease, according to background information in the article. However, it is less clear whether these drugs provide a short-term benefit when given immediately to patients hospitalized for acute coronary syndrome, the group of heart disorders associated with myocardial ischemia (a lack of blood flow to the heart). In addition to reducing cholesterol, statins may stabilize the amount of plaque build-up in arteries, reduce inflammation, prevent blood clotting, reduce blood pressure and improve the functioning of blood vessels, all of which could improve outcomes for patients with acute coronary syndrome.

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Docs often fall short when prescribing new drugs

Public HealthSep 27 06

Physicians frequently fail to provide patients with all the information they should have when they’re prescribed new medication, investigators in California report.

To evaluate the counseling provided by doctors, Dr. Derjung M. Tarn from the David Geffen School of Medicine in Los Angeles, and associates analyzed data from the Physician Patient Communication Project conducted at two health care systems in Sacramento in 1999.

Patients and physicians were surveyed, and the visits were audiotaped. Altogether, 44 physicians prescribed 244 new medications to 185 patients.

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“Light” cigarette suit certified as U.S. class action

Tobacco & MarijuanaSep 27 06

A U.S. federal judge gave class-action status on Monday to a lawsuit filed by “light” cigarette smokers who accuse tobacco companies of fraud and are seeking a verdict of as much as $200 billion.

The 540-page ruling sent tobacco company shares lower. The Dow Jones U.S. Tobacco index was down 4 percent.

“I think a lot of people weren’t expecting this, because the judge a few weeks ago questioned whether the smokers could prove the damages or how,” said Charles Norton, co-portfolio manager of the Vice Fund, which holds 36,000 Altria Group Inc. shares. Altria is parent of defendant Philip Morris USA, maker of Marlboro cigarettes and other brands.

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Pregnant woman dies after drug packing

Sep 25 06

Body packing,” the practice of swallowing packets of drugs to traffic across the US border, puts the individual at high risk of a lethal drug overdose if a packet ruptures.

Dr. Dwight R. Cordero and associates at the University of Miami School of Medicine in Florida recently saw a pregnant cocaine body packer in whom a packet ruptured.

The woman died, but the surgeons were able to save the baby.

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U.S. panel backs use of Bayer heart surgery drug

HeartSep 25 06

Bayer AG’s drug Trasylol provides acceptable safety and effectiveness for preventing blood loss in certain patients undergoing heart bypass surgery, a U.S. advisory panel said on Thursday.

The Food and Drug Administration advisers voted in favor of Trasylol after reviewing data on heart attacks, strokes, kidney damage and allergic reactions in people treated with the drug.

The experts from outside the FDA agreed Trasylol treatment appeared linked to a higher rate of kidney dysfunction but many questioned the validity of research that found a connection to heart attacks and strokes.

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Phone-based therapy helpful after miscarriage

Gender: FemaleSep 25 06

Mental health counseling given over the phone may ease some women’s depression symptoms after a miscarriage, a small pilot study suggests.

The therapy was offered to women with “subsyndromal” depression, which is less severe than major clinical depression but still causes significant symptoms—such as sleep disturbances, chronic lack of energy, appetite changes and feelings of hopelessness.

Past studies have shown that women who suffer a miscarriage are at risk not only of major depression, but of the considerably more common subsyndromal depression as well.

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Low birthweight tied to high BP in adulthood

Children's HealthSep 22 06

New research hints that the lower the birthweight, the higher the blood pressure as an adult—and the link becomes stronger with age.

Dr. Anna A. Davies and her associates at the University of Bristol, UK, are studying the origins of adult hypertension (high blood pressure) using a large database of 25,874 employees, average age 38 years, who underwent pre-employment screening for a large British company.

Birthweights were established by recall for most employees. Overall, age- and sex-adjusted systolic blood pressure (the upper number in a standard reading) dropped 0.8 millimeters mercury (mmHg) for every 1 kg increase in birthweight.

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