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Custom-made insoles may ease certain foot pain

PainJul 23 08

Custom-fit insoles may help ease foot pain caused by high arches, rheumatoid arthritis and certain other conditions, a research review suggests.

Australian researchers found that in 11 clinical trials, custom-designed orthotic devices for the shoes helped ease certain forms of foot pain. One study, for instance, showed that within 3 months, the shoe inserts improved pain in adults with abnormally high arches.

Another study, of 209 adults younger than 60, found that custom orthoses eased pain from bunions—though they did not appear to be as effective as surgery in the long run.

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UK watchdog urges doctors to cut antibiotics

Public HealthJul 23 08

British doctors should slash the number of times they prescribe antibiotics for respiratory tract infections because the drugs rarely help, the country’s drug cost watchdog said on Wednesday.

This means doctors in the state’s health system should not prescribe antibiotics for most cases of sore throats, colds, bronchitis or other types of respiratory infections, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, or NICE, said.

They should also delay writing such prescriptions and reassure people the drugs are not needed immediately and would make little difference because most respiratory infections are viral, the new guidelines said.

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EU says safe to eat during Games, despite concerns

DietingJul 23 08

Europeans travelling to the Beijing Olympics have nothing to fear from Chinese food, despite an upsurge in food safety warnings in the Asian powerhouse, the European Union’s health chief said on Wednesday.

“There is no need for Europeans to take any extra or special measures, other than the ones they would normally take when travelling to a country outside the European Union,” EU Health Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou told Reuters.

“There are problems, but there is no major danger from eating food during the Olympics.”

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School failure harder on girls than boys: US study

Children's HealthJul 23 08

Academic failure appears to trouble teen-age girls more deeply than boys, U.S. researchers said on Tuesday.

They said adolescent girls who are expelled, suspended or drop out of high school before they graduate are more likely to have a serious bout of depression by age 21 than boys with similar experiences.

“For girls there are broader implications of school failure,” said Carolyn McCarty, a University of Washington researcher whose study appears in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

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Government to release revised U.S. HIV estimates

AIDS/HIVJul 23 08

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Tuesday it will soon release long-awaited revised estimates of how many Americans become infected with the AIDS virus every year.

Activists have been saying the numbers are sharply higher and have been urging the CDC to release the numbers.

In June, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said he believed the numbers had risen from 40,000 to 50,000 a year, although the CDC denied he had seen the new estimates.

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Depression linked with first stroke in elderly

Depression • • StrokeJul 23 08

The results of a study in the current issue of the journal Stroke suggest that there is an association between depression and an increased risk of having a first stroke in elderly patients.

“It has long been noted that depression is common after stroke and that depression is associated with increased mortality in patients with stroke,” Dr. Ingmar Skoog, of Sahlgrenska University Hospital/Molndal, Sweden, and colleagues write. During the last decade, they add, published reports have suggested that depression may actually contribute to stroke risk.

The current study involved 401 stroke-free 85-year-olds who were participants in the Longitudinal Gerontological and Geriatric Population Studies in Goteborg. At study entry 72 were demented and 329 were dementia-free. The subjects were followed for 3 years and information was obtained from the Swedish Hospital Discharge Register, death certificates, self-reports, and key informants.

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Prizes don’t help smokers kick the habit long-term

Tobacco & MarijuanaJul 23 08

Contests that offer smokers cash and other incentives to quit don’t produce better long-term results than smoking cessation efforts that don’t reward people for kicking the habit, a new analysis of existing research demonstrates.

“While competitions may be an attractive and high-profile way of encouraging smokers to make a quit attempt, our evidence found that they don’t improve the long-term success rate,” Dr. Kate Cahill of the University of Oxford told Reuters Health in an email interview. “Many people relapse once the competition is over and the prizes stop coming.”

In the U.S., such contests are typically offered in the workplace, while the highest-profile initiatives outside the U.S. are the international “Quit & Win” contests, run every 2 years in more than 80 countries, Cahill explained.

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Day care babies gain more weight: study

Children's Health • • Weight LossJul 23 08

Infants cared for by someone other than mom or dad are more apt to be exposed to “unfavorable” feeding practices and to gain more weight during their first year of life, a new study shows, which could contribute to childhood weight problems.

“Parents may want to have enough communication with child care providers about when, what and how to feed their babies during their stay in day care, which is important to avoid potential risk of overfeeding or underfeeding at home,” Dr. Juhee Kim of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, told Reuters Health.

Kim and co-investigator Dr. Karen E. Peterson of Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, analyzed data on child care arrangements, feeding practices, and weight gain collected for 8,150 infants who were 9 months old. More than half of these children received regular child care from someone other than a parent.

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British study links IMF loans to tuberculosis

InfectionsJul 22 08

Austerity measures attached to International Monetary Fund (IMF) loans may have contributed to a resurgence in tuberculosis in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, researchers said on Tuesday.

Governments may be reducing funding for health services such as hospitals and clinics to meet strict IMF economic targets, the British researchers said.

The study, published in the Public Library of Science journal PLoS Medicine, found that countries participating in IMF programmes had seen tuberculosis death rates increase by at least 17 percent between 1991 and 2000—equivalent to more than 100,000 additional deaths. About one million new cases were recorded during the same period.

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GORE-TEX appears to be safe alternative for rhinoplasty

Ear / Nose / ThroatJul 22 08

For patients who undergo plastic surgery on the nose (rhinoplasty), GORE-TEX implants are a safe and inexpensive alternative to using tissue grafts taken from another part of the patient’s body, according to the results of a 17-year review of more than 500 patients.

For initial and subsequent rhinoplasty procedures in patients with enough internal nasal tissue and external soft tissue coverage, “GORE-TEX should be strongly considered for major and minor corrections of the nasal wall and bridge in properly selected patients,” Dr. Krzysztof Conrad and colleagues, from the University of Toronto, advise.

The review, which was conducted at a teaching hospital, community hospital, and private facial cosmetic surgery center, involved 521 patients who were followed for up to 17 years. A total of 685 GORE-TEX implants were placed, all by one surgeon.

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U of T discovers environmental factors linked to sex ratio of plants

Public HealthJul 22 08

Environmental factors can transform the ratio of females to males in plant populations according to new research out of the University of Toronto.

The study conducted by Ivana Stehlik, a lecturer, Jannice Friedman, a PhD candidate, and Spencer Barrett, a professor, involved a novel approach using genetic markers (known DNA sequences) to identify the sex of seeds. The team investigated six natural populations of the wind-pollinated herb Rumex nivalis in the Swiss Alps and mapped the distance between females and neighbouring males. They then measured the amount of pollen captured by female flowers and collected seeds from the plants when they were mature.

“The plant has strongly female-biased flowering sex ratios in these populations. We wanted to find out the mechanism causing the bias,” said Barrett. “We found that where there were more males surrounding females, females captured more pollen, matured more seed and produced more strongly female-biased offspring.”

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Checking more lymph nodes linked to cancer patient survival

CancerJul 22 08

Why do patients with gastric or pancreatic cancer live longer when they are treated at cancer centers or high-volume hospitals than patients treated at low-volume or community hospitals?

New research from Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine found that cancer patients have more lymph nodes examined for the spread of their disease if they are treated at hospitals performing more cancer surgeries or those designated as comprehensive cancer centers.

Lymph node metastases (indicating the spread of cancer) have been shown to predict patients’ prognosis after cancer tissue is removed from the stomach or pancreas. If too few lymph nodes are examined for malignant cells, a patient’s cancer may be incorrectly classified, which alters the prognosis, treatment decisions and eligibility for clinical trials.

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Measuring the stress of forested areas

Neurology • • StressJul 22 08

Plants undergo stress because of lack of water, due to the heat or the cold or to excess of light. A research team from the University of the Basque Country have analysed the substances that are triggered in plants to protect themselves, with the goal of choosing the species that is best suited to the environment during reforestation under adverse environmental conditions.

Droughts, extreme temperatures, contamination, and so on – all are harmful to plants. On occasions, the damage is caused by humans. For example, as a consequence of cutting down trees, plants used to shady conditions may be exposed to an excess of light. However, in most cases it is nature itself that causes the stress. In spring, plants have sufficient average humidity and temperatures, i.e. what scientists deem ‘optimum conditions’. But in winter they have to withstand considerable cold and in summer, on the other hand, high temperatures and droughts: adverse environmental factors that generate stress situations. Thus, in winter and in summer, the light which under normal conditions would be a source of energy becomes excessive, given that the metabolism of the plants under these conditions is not able to assimilate it. This process is known as photo-oxidative stress.

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Has Cancer Spread? Research Identifies Best Way to Find Answers

CancerJul 22 08

For patients with head and neck cancer, accurately determining how advanced the cancer is and detecting secondary cancers usually means undergoing numerous tests - until now. New Saint Louis University research has found that the PET-CT scanner can be used as a stand-alone tool to detect secondary cancers, which occur in 5 to 10 percent of head and neck cancer patients.

The study findings, which were presented on Tuesday, July 22, at the 7th International Conference on Head and Neck Cancer in San Francisco, Calif., will streamline care for head and neck cancer patients allowing them to begin treatment earlier, says Michael Odell, M.D., assistant professor of otolaryngology at Saint Louis University School of Medicine.

“There has been a lot of confusion about the best ways to evaluate head and neck cancer patients to see if their cancer has spread,” said Odell, the study’s primary author.

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Children go abroad for treatment unavailable in US

Children's HealthJul 21 08

Every year, Chicago-based cardiologist Ziyad Hijazi accompanies two or three children and their families to his native Jordan for heart operations using medical devices that are not approved in the United States.

In one such case, Hijazi implanted a device to close a hole between the lower chambers of the heart in a child from Massachusetts. The device, called an amplatzer muscular VSD, manufactured by Minneapolis-based AGA Medical, was available for 9 years in Jordan before it was approved in the United States in 2007.

According to Hijazi, who is chief of pediatric cardiology at Rush University Medical Center, and other doctors, children are getting worse treatment in the United States, and have even died, because pediatric medical devices are not approved.

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