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Research confirms that some forms of massage help against low-back pain

Alternative Medicine • • BackacheMar 29 10

Most people have experienced back pain – and many hope that massage will relieve it. But not all forms of massage have been scientifically proven to help against low back pain. That is what the German Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG) pointed out in information published on informedhealthonline.org today.

Back pain often affects the lower back and can be a big physical and psychological burden. “The cause of back pain is not always immediately clear,” explains Professor Peter Sawicki, the Institute’s Director. “But low back pain usually gets better on its own within a few weeks.” Back pain is only rarely caused by a more serious health problem.

Classic massage, Thai massage and acupressure could help against low back pain

If low back pain does not get better on its own, massage therapy could be a worthwhile option.

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Healthcare reform bill tackles obesity

Obesity • • Public HealthMar 26 10

While many are focused on the effect the recent healthcare bill will have on insurance and coverage, a number of other health provisions are included. Obesity prevention and treatment is among these.

Successful obesity treatment and prevention requires a multi-pronged approach. Smaller scale attempts, such as state or city taxes on unhealthy foods, may result in small changes. But this isn’t enough. Treating the level of obesity, and related diseases, currently found in the U.S. will require an organized nationwide effort.

Obesity has pervasive effects at an individual, family and community level. Individuals are at greater risk for diseases such as hypertension (high blood pressure), diabetes, stroke and some cancers. Loss of health and lost work days negatively impacts families emotionally and financially. In communities where obesity rates are high, health care treatment costs are higher for employers and the community as a whole.

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Too Fat For Reality: Is TV Exploiting Obesity?

Obesity • • Public HealthMar 26 10

I’ve been noticing a number of weight-themed shows on television lately. While The Biggest Loser certainly isn’t new, ABC recently premiered Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution and Kirstie Alley’s new series Kirstie Alley’s Big Life also just premiered on A&E. I’m sure there are other series out there, between cable and network TV that feature some sort of diet/weight-centric theme but it’s those three in particular that got me wondering whether or not series like these are changing people’s perspective on the issue of obesity in this country.

Obesity’s been a problem in America for quite some time now, but looking beyond the health issues that arise, there’s also the issue of how obese people are treated socially. Speaking in generalities of course, there’s definitely a stigma with being overweight and it seems likely that a lot of people trying to shed a few (or more) pounds aren’t just doing it to lower their blood pressure or decrease their chances of getting diabetes. Thin’s in. That’s no secret. There’s a fair amount of judgment passed on the obese for their weight and appearance. I’m talking about anything from being called names or picked last in gym to being publicly ejected from an airplane because someone decides you’re taking up too much room. This seems to go beyond the concern for health problems. It’s more an attitude (by some) that overweight people deserve the ridicule they get.

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High fructose corn syrup the cause of obesity epidemic, new study suggests

Obesity • • Public HealthMar 26 10

Bad news for the high fructose corn syrup industry.  A new study led by a Princeton University research team suggests that high fructose corn syrup may be at least partially responsible for the increase in the obesity rate in the United States.

The study published online March 18 by the journal Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior showed consumption of high fructose corn syrup caused more weight gain in lab animals than table sugar when both sweeteners were consumed in equal quantity.

In addition, long term consumption of high fructose corn syrup caused abnormal increases in body fat, particularly in the abdomen, and an increase in circulating blood fats called triglycerides.  Both are signs of metabolic syndrome.

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New way discovered to predict which breast cancer patients should be treated with anthracyclines

Cancer • • Breast CancerMar 25 10

Barcelona, Spain: An international team of researchers has discovered a new way of detecting which breast cancer patients are going to respond best to chemotherapy that includes anthracycline antibiotics*.

The research, presented at the seventh European Breast Cancer Conference (EBCC7) in Barcelona today (Thursday), is important because, until now, there was conflicting evidence about the best way of predicting response to anthracyclines and it was unclear whether any of the known biomarkers, such as the genes HER2 and TOP2A, were accurate indicators of response to these drugs.

By conducting a meta-analysis of four large breast cancer trials including nearly 3,000 patients, the researchers have discovered that an abnormality on chromosome 17, called CEP17, is associated with a worse outcome for patients, but also that its presence is a highly significant indicator that the tumour will respond to anthracyclines.

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Thoughts on health, obesity test readers’ ‘Precious’ beliefs

Obesity • • Public HealthMar 25 10

LAST WEEK’S column about obesity and Gabourey Sidibe, star of the critically acclaimed, Academy Award-winning movie “Precious,” generated impassioned responses from Daily News readers.

Here’s what several had to say:
Truly disturbed
Just read your column about Sis Sidibe. My disclaimer is that I’m 62, in recovery and have a bucket list. I’ve completed a marathon and have jogged five half-marathons, am currently taking a rigorous self-defense class and either jog or lift four to five times a week.

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Ask the Task Force on Childhood Obesity to Promote Vegan Food in Schools

Children's Health • • ObesityMar 25 10

The Task Force on Childhood Obesity, which was established last month by the Obama administration, will guide federal agencies in the creation of a national plan to solve the childhood obesity problem within one generation. The task force is now asking the public to submit comments, so here’s your chance to remind the federal government that kids would be healthier if they ate less meat, eggs, and dairy products and more nourishing vegan meals.
We want to make sure that the task force knows that more and more American kids are obese in large part because of all the chicken nuggets, burgers, and fish sticks that they are served in school cafeterias. Vegans are, on average, significantly slimmer than meat- and dairy-eaters. A well-rounded vegan diet gives children all the protein, calcium, and vitamins that they need to be strong and healthy without all the saturated fat and cholesterol that are found in animal-derived products. According to the American Dietetic Association, well-planned vegetarian and vegan diets are appropriate for all ages and slash the risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity.

The Task Force on Childhood Obesity should note the growing popularity of the Meat-Free Monday program in schools and urge all school districts to offer exclusively vegan meals to students on Mondays, in addition to increasing the availability of delicious vegan food during the rest of the week.

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How does a heart know when it’s big enough?

HeartMar 25 10

A protein discovered in fruit fly eyes has brought a Johns Hopkins team closer to understanding how the human heart and other organs automatically “right size” themselves, a piece of information that may hold clues to controlling cancer.

The protein, named Kibra, is linked to a relay of chemical signals responsible for shaping and sizing tissue growth by coordinating control of cell proliferation and death, according to research published Feb. 16 in Developmental Cell by teams at Johns Hopkins and Florida State University.

In a series of experiments, the scientists manipulated Kibra’s role in a signaling network called the Hippo pathway, which consists of several proteins working together as a braking system. Counterparts of the components in the Hippo pathway in flies are found in most animals, suggesting that this pathway may act as a “global regulator” of organ size control, according to Duojia Pan, Ph.D., a professor of molecular biology and genetics at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

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The quality of the tomato depends more on temperature than on natural light

Food & NutritionMar 25 10

A team from the Basque Institute for Agricultural Research and Development (Neiker-Tecnalia) has questioned the generally held belief that the quality of tomatoes depends primarily on their exposure to natural light and states that the most determining factor is temperature. The research was drawn up by the Institute’s Department of Agricultural Production and Protection and opens up great possibilities for starting new plantations in zones where light intensity is low due to weather conditions.

The findings are of particular interest in geographic zones such as the Cantabrian mountain range in the north of Spain, where there is frequent cloud cover and an average of 140 rainy days per year, and which could be suitable for growing greenhouse tomatoes, despite low levels of solar radiation.

The study evaluated the different indicators for organoleptic (taste and texture) quality and nutritional quality, such as acidity, soluble solids, phenolic compounds, pH and vitamin C content.

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Moderate drinking may slow arthritis progression

Arthritis • • Rheumatic DiseasesMar 25 10

Some studies have suggested that moderate drinkers have a lower risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis, and now new findings link the habit to a slower progression of the joint disease.

In a study that followed 2,900 adults with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), Swiss researchers found that light-to-moderate drinkers showed slower progression in their joint damage compared with non-drinkers. Heavy drinkers, on the other hand, showed the greatest progression.

The findings, reported in the journal Arthritis & Rheumatism, are based on X-ray evidence of patients’ joint damage and its progression over an average of four years.

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Smoking, Obesity’s Toll on Life Span

Obesity • • Tobacco & MarijuanaMar 24 10

Smoking, high blood pressure, high blood sugar levels, and obesity—four preventable risk factors—are robbing years from the lives of Americans.

The new findings—almost five years from men, and just over four years from women—suggest that disparities in these risk factors help explain why some ethnic and socioeconomic groups have lower life expectancies.

“Our results demonstrate that a small number of risk factors for chronic disease account for a noticeable part of the disparities in life expectancy in the U.S., with the largest contributions from smoking and high blood pressure,” say the researchers, led by Majid Ezzati, PhD, an associate professor of International Health at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston. The findings appear in the journal PLoS Medicine.

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Doctors must collaborate so that patients get full benefit of tamoxifen treatment

Cancer • • Breast CancerMar 24 10

Barcelona, Spain: Recently published research has shown that some breast cancer patients taking tamoxifen may not be getting the full benefit of their treatment because they have also been taking selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), prescribed drugs that inhibit the effect of an important enzyme. Now researchers have developed a strategy for overcoming this problem, the seventh European Breast Cancer Conference (EBCC7) in Barcelona will hear today (Wednesday). Mr. Sean Hopkins, a clinical pharmacy specialist in breast cancer at the Ottawa Hospital Regional Cancer Centre, Ottawa, Canada, will present his research which shows that changing drug therapy at an early stage can help patients get the full benefit of tamoxifen and aid the effectiveness of their treatment.

Tamoxifen is used both to prevent development of oestrogen-receptor-positive cancer and as a therapy to stop it coming back. Taking medications such as fluoxetine (Prozac) and paroxetine for depression (and in some patients hot flashes), and bupropion (Zyban) for smoking cessation, can inhibit the action of CYP2D6, an enzyme that is related to drug metabolism and response to treatment, and which is crucial to the metabolism of tamoxifen for breast cancer.

Mr. Hopkins and his team set out to investigate how many patients taking hormonal therapy for breast cancer were also being prescribed CYP2D6 inhibitors. Research has shown that up to 25% of breast cancer patients have depressive disorders, and many of them are prescribed SSRIs. Additionally, many patients with cancer try to give up smoking and may use non-nicotine replacement therapies, such as buproprion.

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U.S. Caesarean births hit record high in 2007

Gender: Female • • PregnancyMar 24 10

Nearly 1.4 million babies born in the United States in 2007 were delivered by Caesarean section, a record U.S. high and a larger number than in most other industrialized nations, health officials said on Tuesday.

In 2007, nearly one-third of all births were Caesarean deliveries, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a report, noting large rises in all racial, ethnic and age groups over 10 years.

The benefits and risks of Caesarean delivery, which involves major abdominal surgery, have been the subject of intense debate for more than a quarter of a century.

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Obesity tied to poorer colon cancer survival

Cancer • • Colorectal cancer • • ObesityMar 24 10

Obese people are known to have a higher risk of colon cancer. Now, a new study suggests they may have poorer long-term survival odds than their thinner counterparts if they do develop the disease.

The latest findings, reported in the journal Clinical Cancer Research, suggest that excess weight may particularly affect male survivors’ long-term prognosis.

In a study of nearly 4,400 U.S. adults treated for colon cancer, researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester found that obese patients were one-quarter to one-third more likely to die over the next eight years than their normal-weight counterparts.

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Junk Food Tax Could Curb Obesity Trend

ObesityMar 23 10

A junk food tax would be effective in reducing obesity rates and improving the overall health of the country, a new study suggests.

We Americans love our junk food, but all those empty calories are hurting our pocketbook in the form of skyrocketing health care costs to treat medical conditions related to obesity, including diabetes, heart disease and arthritis.

Now, a new study indicates that putting a tax on junk food could help reduce obesity rates and improve our nation’s health – both physically and fiscally.

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