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InfoMedSearch 2011 Archives
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The sections below contain selected medical-health article links for our Featured InfoMedLinks, Inflammation and Oxidative Stress, and Patient Safety:
As Obesity Rises, More Suffer From Acid Reflux “As the obesity epidemic spreads around the world more people are suffering from acid reflux, likely increasing the number of those who will develop esophageal cancer, a new study suggests. In Norway, the prevalence of acid reflux, also called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), has risen almost 50 percent in the past 10 years, say researchers led by Dr. Eivind Ness-Jensen, from the HUNT Research Center's Department of Public Health and General Practice at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Levanger. The increasing number of people who are obese is "the main attributable factor," he said.”
Dirty Little Secret: Orange Juice Is Artificially Flavored to Taste Like Oranges “The flavor packs aren't listed in the ingredients because they're technically derived from "orange essence and oil", whatever the hell that means. So just remember, when you buy Orange Juice next time, even though it says 100% juice (which it is), it's still 100% artificially flavored.”
Fungus Found in Sinks Can Cause Serious Infections “"With about two-thirds of sinks found to harbor Fusarium, it's clear that those buildings' inhabitants are exposed to these fungi on a regular basis," lead investigator Dylan Short, of the College of Agricultural Sciences, said in a university news release. "This strongly supports the hypothesis that plumbing-surface biofilms serve as reservoirs for human pathogenic fusaria." “
High lead exposure linked to hearing loss in youth “Teens exposed to higher-than-normal levels of lead are more likely to have trouble hearing, suggests a new study that links the hearing problems to lead levels well below those considered "safe" by current standards.”
Jump in Resting Heart Rate Might Signal Higher Death Risk “People whose heart rates increased from under 70 beats per minute to more than 85 beats per minute over 10 years had a 90 percent increased risk of dying from heart disease compared to people whose heart rates stayed around 70 beats per minute, according to the large study.” "Resting heart rate is one of the simplest measures in medicine and everyone can do that by themselves at home. From cross-sectional studies, it is known that a person's resting heart rate is related to the relative risk of premature cardiovascular disease and death. However, it has not, before now, been associated with an increased risk of premature cardiovascular death," said study senior author Ulrik Wisloff, director of the K.G. Jebsen Center of Exercise in Medicine in Trondheim, Norway. "Our observations suggest that resting heart rate may be an important prognostic marker for ischemic heart disease and total mortality," said Wisloff, who added that changes in resting heart rate may signal the need for lifestyle changes.”
Long-term maternal morbidity associated with repeat cesarean delivery. (Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2011)
North Louisiana Woman Dies from Rare Ameba Infection “The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals is warning residents about the dangers of the improper use of neti pots. The warning follows the state's second death this year caused by Naegleria fowleri, the so-called brain-eating ameba. A 51-year-old DeSoto Parish woman died recently after using tap water in a neti pot to irrigate her sinuses and becoming infected with the deadly ameba. In June, a 20-year-old St. Bernard Parish man died under the same circumstances. Naegleria fowleri infects people by entering the body through the nose. A neti pot is commonly used to irrigate sinuses, and looks like a genie's lamp.”
One Third of Cancers Caused by Lifestyle Factors “One third of all cancers are caused by 4 common lifestyle factors — tobacco, diet, alcohol, and obesity.”
Particulate Matter Induces Cardiac Arrhythmias via Dysregulation of Carotid Body Sensitivity and Cardiac Sodium Channels. (Am J Respir Cell Mol Biol. 2011)
Poison in Paint, Toxics in Toys “A report released today identifies for the first time more than 650 brand name products that contain two hormone-disrupting toxic chemicals. Based on new industry data, the report names plastic toys, such as PLAYMOBIL play figures and Chicco baby rattles, which contain BPA (or bisphenol A), the same toxic chemical already banned in plastic baby bottles and sippy cups. The report revealed another toxic ingredient, known as NPEs, in nearly 300 household paints, as well as several cleaners, wood finishes and home maintenance products. … Studies have shown that BPA and NPEs (nonylphenol ethoxylates) mimic the sex hormone estrogen. BPA harms brain development, behavior and the prostate gland, among many other adverse health effects. NPEs are highly toxic to aquatic life, degrade into a long-lived chemical that builds up in the food chain, and may harm reproduction and development in humans. Aggregate exposure to BPA and NPEs from all sources threatens the health of children, workers and the environment.”
Pregnancy outcome in women aged 40 years or more. (J Matern Fetal Neonatal Med. 2011)
Smoking Pot Shrinks the Brain “Marijuana use can lead to a loss of brain volume in individuals who are at risk of developing schizophrenia, new research shows.”
Starchy Foods May Boost Risk of Breast Cancer Recurrence “Emond said she cannot explain the link between starch and breast cancer recurrence with certainty. However, starchy foods boost insulin levels, and elevated insulin levels have been linked with higher breast cancer risk, she said. The insulin may stimulate the growth of tumor cells, she explained.”
Study Finds Bacteria in Unused Paper Towels “Grabbing a paper towel in a public restroom may leave more on your hands than you bargained for. Researchers say they've found bacteria, including some that are known to make people sick, in unused paper towels. They also found that those bacteria could be transferred to hands after washing. The study is published in the American Journal of Infection Control. It did not find any illnesses connected to paper towel use. Experts say the findings are probably most important for people in hospital isolation units and those with weakened immune function who need to be extra cautious about contact with germs.”
US Colorectal Cancer Screening Strategy Questioned “"The new analyses may show that primary colonoscopy screening is best limited to subgroups," the editorialists note. They speculate that "for most of the population, going the distance may well provide small benefits with larger costs and harms. Drs. Harris and Kinsinger also raise an issue that has been a lightning rod for criticism of breast and prostate cancer screening: overdiagnosis. "The issue of overdiagnosis, a term that has primarily been used with other cancers, should be considered because overdiagnosis is also a major problem for colonoscopy screening." We are taking our eyes off the ball. The "great majority" of findings at colonoscopy are not cancers, but instead are small low-risk adenomas and nonadenomatous polyps, they emphasize. Current practice in the United States dictates that all polyps, regardless of size, be removed. This practice, which has "an uncertain net effect" on the patient, has led gastroenterologists astray, they note. "When our goal changes from reducing [colorectal cancer] mortality within reasonable levels of harms and costs to eradicating every existing polyp, we are taking our eyes off the ball," they write.”"
When it Comes to Heart Attacks an Hour Can Make a Difference “Heart attack victims who get to the hospital a day or more later might expect to receive an artery-opening angioplasty. However, according to guidelines released in 2007 angioplasty was no more beneficial than medical treatment in such cases. Yet today, doctors still perform as many angioplasties on people showing up "late" after a heart attack as they did before the guidelines were published. Why hasn’t practiced changed in this regard? Doctors may be unaware of—or disagree with— the no-angioplasty approach in this scenario. In addition, doctors may have concerns about being sued if they don’t intervene aggressively or meet patient expectations of a dramatic response.”
Cruciferous vegetables intake and risk of prostate cancer: A meta-analysis. (Int J Urol. 2011)
Cycling Fast: Vigorous Daily Exercise Recommended for a Longer Life“A study conducted among cyclists in Copenhagen, Denmark showed that it is the relative intensity and not the duration of cycling which is of most importance in relation to all-cause mortality and even more pronounced for coronary heart disease mortality.”
Diet Patterns Linked With Brain Health “"The combination of the B vitamins, the antioxidants C and E, plus vitamin D was the most favorable combination of nutrients in the blood for healthy brain aging in our population," says study author Gene L. Bowman, ND, MPH, assistant professor of neurology at the Layton Aging & Alzheimer's Disease Center, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland. Diets high in omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish, were also good for brain health. Most unfavorable, he found, was a diet high in trans fats. Trans fats are more often found in packaged baked goods and fast foods, including cookies, crackers, and potato chips.”
Eat Fish to Stave Off Alzheimer's Disease “After accounting for these variables, the researchers found that people who ate baked or broiled fish had larger brain volumes in the hippocampus and frontal lobes, areas of the brain that are important in memory and cognition and that are frequently affected in Alzheimer's disease. Specifically, consumption of fish at least once per week was positively associated with gray matter volumes in the hippocampus, precuneus, posterior cingulate, and orbital frontal cortex. Greater hippocampal, orbital frontal cortex, and posterior cingulate volumes in relation to fish consumption reduced the risk for 5-year cognitive decline 5-fold (P = .02). There was no statistically significant relation between the consumption of fried fish and brain structure or cognitive decline.”
Lifestyle Activities and Memory: Variety May Be the Spice of Life. The Women's Health and Aging Study II. (J Int Neuropsychol Soc. 2011) “Greater variety of participation in activities, regardless of cognitive challenge, was associated with an 8 to 11% reduction in the risk of impairment in verbal memory and global cognitive outcomes. Participation in a variety of lifestyle activities was more predictive than frequency or level of cognitive challenge for significant reductions in risk of incident impairment on measures sensitive to cognitive aging and risk for dementia. Our findings offer new perspectives in promoting a diverse repertoire of activities to mitigate age-related cognitive declines.”
Magnesium intake and risk of type 2 diabetes: meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. (Diabetes Care. 2011) “This meta-analysis provides further evidence supporting that magnesium intake is significantly inversely associated with risk of type 2 diabetes in a dose-response manner.”
Mediterranean Diet Gives Longer Life, Swedish Study Suggests “The results show that those who eat a Mediterranean diet have a 20% higher chance of living longer.”
More Evidence That Exercise May Keep The Brain Sharp “Larson thinks the benefits of exercise on mental ability can accrue even if one starts exercising later in life. "There may be even more benefit, because your state is more risky," he said. "Just keeping up walking for an older person is a huge benefit." Even after dementia has started, exercise can be a benefit, Larson said. "Walking once, twice or four times a week with a caregiver leads to a better outcome and a happier person," he said.”
One Size Doesn't Fit All for Vitamin D and Men: African-American Men in Northern Regions Especially Need High Doses of Supplements “African-American men have lower levels of Vitamin D because the increased melanin in darker skin blocks the ultraviolet rays necessary for the body to produce the vitamin, Murphy said. Thus, African-American men require up to six times more sun exposure than Caucasian men to make adequate Vitamin D levels. "It takes a dark-skinned male like myself 90 minutes three times a week to absorb enough sunlight to produce the recommended amount of Vitamin D compared to just 15 minutes three times a week for a Caucasian male," said the Chicago-based Murphy, who also is a physician at Jesse Brown VA Medical Center. African-American men living in Chicago would need to take nearly 2,500 IU's of Vitamin D to reach normal, healthy levels, Murphy said.”
Strong Support for the Brain Benefits of Aerobic Activity “Any aerobic physical activity that raises the heart rate and increases the body's need for oxygen may reduce the risk for dementia and slow cognitive decline once it starts, according to a comprehensive literature review.”
Inflammation and Oxidative Stress
C-reactive protein is related to memory and medial temporal brain volume in older adults. (Brain Behav Immun. 2011)
4 Drugs Cause Most Adverse-Event Hospital Stays for Seniors“The study, by researchers from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), singles out 4 drugs and drug classes — warfarin, oral antiplatelet medications, insulins, and oral hypoglycemic agents. Alone or together, they account for 67% of emergency ADE hospitalizations of adults 65 years and older. Warfarin was implicated in 33%, lead author Daniel Budnitz, MD, MPH, director of the CDC's Medication Safety Program, and coauthors write. In contrast, medications red-flagged as high risk or inappropriate by health authorities explained only 1.2% and 6.6%, respectively, of such hospital admissions. For clinicians, the take-home message of the study is clear: Improved management of antithrombotic and antidiabetes drugs can keep thousands of seniors out of the hospital.”
Antidepressants increasingly prescribed for nonpsychiatric conditions “When patients visit their physicians for common health issues such as fatigue, headaches and premenstrual problems, they increasingly are getting a prescription for the same type of medication. …An antidepressant. … In some cases, patients are being unnecessarily exposed to the adverse effects of the medications, including an increased risk of diabetes, said Dr. Mojtabai, a psychiatrist and associate professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore.”
Fee for Service: How Long Will It Be Around? “Kent Giles, a healthcare consultant in Atlanta, explains that fee for service is one of the reasons why healthcare costs are twice as high in the United States as in other countries. "Beyond the fact that we pay doctors more here, we reward overutilization of procedures," he notes. "If doctors' payments are cut, they do more procedures. We have to move away from fee for service to control healthcare spending."”
Hospital privacy curtains laden with germs “Health care providers often touch these curtains after they have washed their hands and then proceed to touch the patient. Further, these curtains often hang for a long time and are difficult to disinfect. In their study, Dr. Ohl and his team took 180 swab cultures from 43 privacy curtains twice a week for three weeks. The curtains were located in the medical and surgical intensive care units and on a medical ward of the University of Iowa Hospitals. The researchers also marked the curtains to keep track of when they were changed. Tests detected Staphylococcus aureus bacteria, including the especially dangerous methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA), as well as various species of Enterococci -- gut bacteria -- some resistant to the newer antibiotic vancomycin. The researchers used additional tests to identify specific vancomycin and methicillin-resistant strains to see whether the same strains were circulating and contaminating the curtains over and over. The study found significant contamination that occurred very rapidly after new curtains were placed.”
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