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Fla. med student study reveals disparity of skin cancer knowledge—Ben-Gurion U. study

Cancer • • Skin cancerSep 14 10

There is a significant disparity between knowledge and attitudes on the dangers of skin cancer among male and female medical students in Florida according to a new study by a joint team of researchers from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. The study was published in the American Medical Association’s Archives of Dermatology.

While their overall knowledge was judged to be satisfactory there was a significant difference between male and female students’ knowledge survey scores: 93.1 percent for women vs. 87.7 percent for men. Female students reported more frequent sunscreen use and sun-avoidance behavior and more frequently engaged in other sun-protective behaviors than their male peers.

Overall, men had a lower knowledge level, less appreciation for the importance of sun protection and were less likely to use active sun-protective measures. It is known that men are at higher risk for melanoma than woman (1:41 compared to 1:61). Gender differences in knowledge and behavior possibly contribute to the higher melanoma incidence and mortality among men over women.

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Lung Cancer Culprit Could Offer Target for Therapy

Cancer • • Lung CancerSep 13 10

A tiny molecule that spurs the progression of non-small-cell lung cancer could become a player in fighting the disease, say researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center, who published a study on how the molecule behaves in mice in the Sept. 14 issue of Cancer Cell.

Scientists have known that the molecule microRNA-21, or miR-21, is present in overabundant quantities in human tumors, including non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Until now, however, it was unclear whether miR-21 contributed to the development of lung cancer, or whether it was simply an indicator of the presence of the disease.

To find out, lead study author Dr. Mark Hatley, an instructor of pediatric hematology/oncology, and UT Southwestern colleagues used mice that had been altered specifically to harbor non-small-cell lung cancer. In some of these mice, they genetically engineered the animals to produce too much miR-21. In another group, they deleted the miR-21 gene altogether, which eliminated the molecule in the rodents.

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National study finds 70 percent increase in basketball-related traumatic brain injuries

Brain • • Public HealthSep 13 10

A new study conducted by researchers at the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital examined basketball-related injuries treated in emergency departments among children and adolescents between the ages of 5 and 19 from 1997 to 2007. According to the study, more than 4 million basketball-related injuries were treated in emergency departments during the 11-year study. While the number of injuries decreased 22 percent over the course of the study, the average number of injuries per year (375,350) remained high.

Data from the study, being released online September 13 and appearing in the October 2010 issue of Pediatrics, revealed that traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), which carry significant risk, increased 70 percent over the study period despite the overall downward trend in basketball injuries.

“We found a dramatic increase in the number of basketball-related TBIs over the 11-year study period,” said study co-author, Lara McKenzie PhD, principal investigator at the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. “In addition, the proportion of TBIs doubled for boys and tripled for girls during this time. Many athletes do not recognize the symptoms of concussions or do not report them to coaches and trainers. Educating athletes, coaches and parents to recognize and report on suspected concussions is vital to managing them effectively and helping to prevent future injuries.”

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Zimbabwe court frees U.S. health workers on bail

Public HealthSep 13 10

A Zimbabwe court released on bail on Monday six health workers, including four from the United States, accused of dispensing AIDS drugs without a licence.

The six, who were each freed on $200 bail, are members of a Californian-based Christian volunteer health service which runs two clinics in Zimbabwe working with AIDS orphans and HIV positive patients.

Zimbabwe has one of the highest HIV rates in the world and the destruction of its public health system during a decade of economic crisis has left it largely dependent on donor organisations and church-based institutions for essential health services.

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Artificial “skin” materials can sense pressure

Public Health • • Skin CareSep 13 10

New artificial “skin” fashioned out of flexible semiconductor materials can sense touch, making it possible to create robots with a grip delicate enough to hold an egg, yet strong enough to grasp the frying pan, U.S. researchers said on Sunday.

Scientists have long struggled with a way to make robotic devices capable of adjusting the amount of force needed to hold and use different objects. The pressure-sensitive materials are designed to overcome that challenge.

“Humans generally know how to hold a fragile egg without breaking it,” said Ali Javey, an electrical engineer at the University of California Berkeley, who led one of two teams reporting on artificial skin discoveries in the journal Nature Materials.

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Two men “ran illegal sperm donor agency”

Public HealthSep 13 10

Two men earned 250,000 pounds through an unlicensed fertility company matching sperm donors with women trying to conceive, a court heard on Monday.

Under the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act, a licence is needed by anyone wanted to “procure, test or distribute” any sperm or eggs.

The two defendants are the first to be prosecuted under the Act, the Press Association reported.

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Walking helps keep body and brain young

Public HealthSep 13 10

Everyone knows that walking limbers the aging body, but did you know it keeps the mind supple as well?

Research shows that walking can actually boost the connectivity within brain circuits, which tends to diminish as the grey hairs multiply.

“Patterns of connectivity decrease as we get older,” said Dr. Arthur F. Kramer, who led the study team at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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US again funding controversial stem cell research

Public HealthSep 11 10

The U.S. government said it was resuming work on controversial human embryonic stem cell research on Friday after an appeals court ruled in its favor.

In the latest legal back-and-forth on the issue, a U.S. appeals court on Thursday granted an Obama administration request to temporarily lift a judge’s ban on federal funding of research involving human embryonic stem cells.

More legal action is pending but the National Institutes of Health said it would resume work that had been suspended.

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USDA knew of problems at egg recall farm: report

Food & Nutrition • • Public HealthSep 11 10

U.S. Department of Agriculture experts knew about sanitary problems at one of the two Iowa farms at the center of a massive nationwide egg recall, but did not notify health authorities, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Bacteria found in chicken feed used at the two Iowa farms was linked to a salmonella outbreak that prompted the recall of more than a half billion eggs, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said last month.

The Journal said USDA daily sanitation reports viewed by it underscored the regulatory gaps that may have contributed to delays in discovering salmonella contamination.

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Magnetic fields won’t up kids’ brain cancer risk

Children's Health • • Cancer • • Brain CancerSep 10 10

Exposure to extremely low-frequency magnetic fields (ELF-MFs)—emitted by anything from power lines to appliances or improperly grounded wiring—is not likely to increase children’s risk of developing brain tumors, the authors of a new analysis conclude.

Researchers have been investigating the health risks of these magnetic fields since 1979, Dr. Leeka Kheifets of the University of California, Los Angeles, and her colleagues note in the American Journal of Epidemiology. There is some evidence that exposure at certain levels may be related to childhood leukemia, they add.

Evidence for a link between ELF-MF exposure and childhood brain tumors is weaker, according to Kheifets and her team, but to date a pooled analysis investigating the association has not been performed. Pooled analyses involve taking data from several different studies of the same topic and analyzing them as a whole, using a variety of statistical techniques to take as many differences between the studies into account as possible.

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More doctors no panacea for healthcare: report

Public HealthSep 10 10

Medicare patients with more doctors to choose from do not necessarily get more or better care, researchers reported on Thursday in an analysis demonstrating how complicated U.S. healthcare reform will be.

The Dartmouth Atlas analysis questions the Obama administration’s hopes that health insurance reform legislation passed in March will do much to improve U.S. healthcare by helping 32 million more Americans get health insurance and providing more primary care.

They found huge variations in the quality of medical care across the country and even patients who should in theory have plenty of opportunity to see a doctor are not faring better health-wise.

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Do kids, men need folic acid from a pill?

Public HealthSep 09 10

With the advent of folic-acid supplementation of certain foods, few Canadians are now getting too little of the B vitamin, a new study estimates—in findings that question the need for children and men to get additional folic acid from vitamins.

The study does not challenge the need for women of childbearing age to take folic acid supplements, researchers say, since they need extra amounts of the vitamin to reduce the risk of having a baby with neural tube defects—birth defects of the brain or spine, including spina bifida.

Nor should women older than 70 feel a need to cut back on folic acid: they were the one group the study found to have a high rate of inadequate folate/folic acid intake. (Folate is the natural form of the B vitamin, found in foods such as spinach, asparagus, dried beans and peas, and orange juice; folic acid is the synthetic form used in vitamin supplements and added to certain “fortified” foods, including wheat flour and breakfast cereals.)

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Scientists make leap forward in early detection for Alzheimer’s and cancer

Brain • • Cancer • • NeurologySep 08 10

Scientists at the UK’s National Physical Laboratory have developed a new strategy for quicker and more precise detection of biomarkers – proteins which indicate disease. The work could pave the way for new tools to detect early stages of Alzheimer’s and cancer at the molecular level.

All diseases have proteins specifically linked to them called biomarkers. Identifying these in body fluid such as blood can be a powerful tool in identifying diseases in their early stages. This would help doctors increase the success rate of treatment through early intervention and help drug companies develop more effective drugs for these diseases.

The search for new diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers to underpin targeted medicines is of growing priority. However the potential of biomarkers is currently hampered by technical difficulties in detecting them. They are often present at very low levels, in amongst many other different proteins. Reducing a sample down to a concentration where they could be identified is difficult and time-consuming.

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Can money buy happiness? Maybe, up to $75,000

Public HealthSep 08 10

Can money really make you happy? Not really, but up to about $75,000 a year can ease the pain of life’s stresses, U.S. researchers reported on Tuesday.

A survey of 1,000 Americans shows they are overall fairly happy, and more money equals more satisfaction up to a point, Daniel Kahneman and Angus Deaton of the Center for Health and Wellbeing at Princeton University in New Jersey found.

“More money does not necessarily buy more happiness, but less money is associated with emotional pain,” they wrote in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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Fines of $7 in “tough” new China anti-smoking rules

Public Health • • Tobacco & MarijuanaSep 08 10

China’s “toughest” ever smoking ban, which aims to stop people lighting up during November’s Asian Games, will carry fines of $7, state media said on Wednesday, a limited deterrent to smokers in one of China’s richest cities.

People found smoking in offices, conference halls, elevators and certain other public spaces will be fined 50 yuan ($7.36), though “businesses not meeting their obligations” will be fined up to 30,000 yuan, the official Xinhua news agency said, calling it “the nation’s toughest smoking ban.”

Guangzhou is one of China’s wealthiest cities, with a per capita GDP of more than $10,000, so individual 50 yuan fines are unlikely to have much impact on most residents unless there are armies of enforcers combing the city.

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