Monthly Archives: October 2009 - Page 2

Stent surgery may stop erectile dysfunction

Last week, the first stents of a study by Medtronic were implanted by Dr. Krishna Rocha-Singh, the director of the Prairie Vascular Institute in Springfield, Illinois. The hope with the stent is to help men who have taken Viagra, or other medications for erectile dysfunction without the pills making any difference. The hope is that the stent surgery may stop erectile dysfunction.

Viagra, cialis, and levitra only help about half of the patients they were meant to help, says Dr. Martha Sanda, director of the prostate cancer center at Beth Israel Deaconess Center in Boston. The stent surgery may be invasive, but if it works, it may become quite commercial in the sense that it will be popular, like the breast implant, writes ABC news.

Doctors are finding that erectile dysfunction may be linked to coronary artery disease. With CAD, arteries become occluded and blood flow is decreased. The stent is placed in arteries in the pelvis to open up the arteries and allow blood flow, thus correcting the erectile dysfunction. Researchers are still uncertain as to who the stent will be most effective. The study is meant to figure that out.

The study includes 50 patients at 10 separate medical centers. Some doctors around the country are questioning as to whether the surgery will prove to be effective. However, the only way to know is to do research. That is the purpose of a study. Dr. Jerome Richie, the chief of urology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston thinks that the surgery may help younger men stating, “I would foresee this stent as an application for younger individuals who have had traumatic injuries that decrease arterial inflow. Other than that selected group, I do not foresee widespread applicability.”

The study is called Zen. According to Reuters, a lead researcher Dr. Jason Rogers, director of interventional cardiology at UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento, stated that there has been an established link between coronary artery disease and erectile dysfunction. In regards to the study and this link, Rogers states, “Based on this evidence, we are investigating the use of stents in pelvic arteries to determine whether it may provide a new treatment approach and enable better response to drug therapies.”

The study will also investigate whether the surgery is safe and improves the erectile dysfunction. The pelvic artery stenting results are expected to be out in 2011. It will be interesting to see what happens and if men who are not helped by drugs can be helped with the stent.


Jenny Decker RN

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Medical Imaging Radiation Can Accumulate Overtime

Many types of medical imaging procedures, such as x-rays, computed tomography scans, and nuclear medicine scans, expose patients to ionizing radiation, which over time can accumulate to substantial doses, according to a study published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine.

“We know that radiation is not benign and some people are getting high exposures,” says Reza Fazel, M.D., the lead author of the study and a cardiologist at Emory University.

Researchers used claims data from UnitedHealthcare on nearly 1 million individuals in five regions across the United States to estimate the overall rates of exposure to radiation from medical imaging procedures over a three-year period.

The study was led by a team of doctors from several academic medical centers, including Emory University, the University of Michigan Health System, and Yale University.

Exposure was estimated for these individuals based on the effective dose (in millisieverts) of radiation associated with the procedure, a measure that is meant to reflect how harmful a given exposure is to the body on average. Exposure to radiation has been linked to higher rates of solid cancers and leukemias.

Levels of radiation exposure were categorized as:

* low, less than 3 millisieverts per year, roughly the background level from natural sources in the US

* moderate, up to 20 millisieverts per year, the annual limit for average occupational exposure over five years

* high, up to 50 millisieverts per year, the annual limit for occupational exposure

* very high, more than 50 millisieverts per year.

Nearly eight out of every 10 adults in the study population underwent at least one imaging procedure associated with radiation exposure during the three-year study period.

On average, the effective dose of radiation from these procedures was 2.4 mSv per year, resulting in overall radiation exposures in the average adult in the United States that almost doubled what would be expected from natural sources alone, the authors wrote.

More concerning doses (>20 mSv per year) that accumulated over time were not uncommon. For instance, the authors stated that, if their findings are generalized to the total adult population of the United States, this level of exposure may occur in over 4 million adults.

“It is important to note that we are talking about radiation doses that are incurred in one year,” says study author Brahmajee K. Nallamothu, M.D., cardiologist at the U-M Cardiovascular Center and researcher at the UM/VA Patient Safety Enhancement Program. “Cumulative doses over a lifetime may be much higher.

“This becomes particularly concerning when you consider that over a third of individuals who received moderate and high effective doses were under the age of 50- because the long-term risks of developing cancer from radiation will be higher in younger individuals,” Nallamothu says.

“We do not want to scare people or have them refuse needed imaging procedures because of this work,” added Harlan Krumholz, M.D., a study author and cardiologist at Yale. “However, people need to be sure that there is value in the testing because it costs both in terms of dollars and radiation exposure.”

One of the key findings of the study was that radiation exposure from medical imaging increased with advancing age and was higher in women.

CT and nuclear imaging scans accounted for nearly three quarters of the overall radiation exposure in the study and over 80 percent of the radiation exposure occurred in the outpatient setting.

The authors caution that they could not comment on indications for the imaging procedures, their appropriateness, or whether other alternative studies were available. Furthermore, effective doses used in the study are calculated doses that are not specific to an individual, but are estimated based on an ”average” individual.

Thus, the actual absorbed dose may vary by sex, body mass and body composition, they note. Also, radiation doses may vary by institution and the protocols in current use.

The authors conclude by calling for better strategies to optimize and ensure the appropriate use of these procedures in the general population.

“Raising both physician and patient awareness regarding these issues as well as encouraging continued technological advances to lower radiation doses of procedures are the key approaches to lowering risks in patients,” Fazel says.

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So Many Genes, So Little Time

Researchers have used a new “deep sequencing” technology to pinpoint a critical gene mutation in worms in only a few weeks. Deep sequencing allows scientists to simultaneously sequence millions of fragments of DNA at the same time. It would have taken years for scientists using older technology to sift through the worm’s DNA until they found the proverbial needle in the haystack.

The researchers used the new technology, which has been likened to a genome center in a box, to identify a single gene mutation in the roundworm C. elegans. But the same method can be applied to identify gene mutations in any organism, including humans. The whole-genome analysis and gene identification took about a month and cost about $5,000. It would have taken years of work and perhaps $100,000 in salary and research costs using traditional analysis, said senior author Oliver Hobert, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator at Columbia University.

Scientists have long used “forward genetic” approaches to explore gene function. A classical forward genetic analysis starts with a physical characteristic (called a phenotype) of interest and ends with the identification of the gene or genes that are responsible for that phenotype.

In a typical forward genetic strategy, researchers use chemicals or radiation to mutate genes at random in the cells of the plants or animals they are studying. After mutations are introduced, the scientists screen the mutants to identify those with a phenotype that is of interest. The changes in a cell or organism’s phenotype are then attributed to the mutated genes and, by inference, to their protein products.

The next step is to try to pinpoint the gene mutation responsible for producing the defect observed in the mutant. However, finding the mutant gene can take years of laborious cross-breeding of mutant and normal plants or animals, with scientists carefully identifying the offspring that inherit the trait. At that point, researchers can begin using genetic markers to zero in on the region of the genome that carries the mutation. Once the region of the genome is narrowed, scientists use gene sequencing technology to pinpoint the mutation. Identifying mutations in humans involves tracing the inheritance of a disease or other trait in a family and determining the pattern of inheritance of genetic markers to narrow down the region of the genome that contains the mutation.

In contrast, the whole-genome-sequencing approach used by Hobert and his colleagues bypasses the need for cross-breeding or inheritance analysis. In the experiments reported in Nature Methods, they used a whole-genome-sequencing technology developed by Illumina, a company based in San Diego.

Hobert’s team first used a chemical to produce a massive number of mutations in the genome of C. elegans. They identified one mutant worm that showed a particular defect in generating a specific type of sensory neuron. But instead of going through a long series of cross-breeding experiments to pinpoint the responsible gene, they used the Illumina technology to sequence the entire genome of the mutant worm in a general region they identified as relevant.

Hobert and his colleagues began by snipping the worm genome into millions of very short DNA segments, like chopping a masked picture into a huge number of puzzle pieces. The DNA segments were then attached to a transparent slide and massive numbers of copies of each DNA segment were created by the Illumina genome analyzer system. Then, each segment was sequenced using fluorescent-tagged chemicals, like unmasking each piece of the picture puzzle. Finally, sophisticated computer analysis, done by Hobert’s colleague Itisk Pe’er at Columbia University, organized the mass of DNA sequence data on the DNA segments to assemble a map of the whole genome sequence — like assembling the puzzle pieces to reveal the picture.

This sequencing revealed some 80 DNA sequence variations between the mutant worm and the known standard C. elegans genome sequence. Manual re-sequencing revealed that the majority of those variations were either sequencing errors, were due to random variation among individuals, or were not part of genes that code for functional proteins in the worm. Only four of the true variations occurred in protein-coding regions of the genome, and the researchers readily narrowed down those variations to reveal the relevant gene mutation, said Hobert.

“In the short term, , this will become the standard method of mapping genes in C. elegans,” said Hobert. “And over the longer term, as the sequencing capacity of the technology increases, whole-genome sequencing will become the method of choice for higher organisms, including fruitflies, mice and humans.” Hobert also pointed out that other companies are developing different approaches to deep sequencing and those contributions will also drive progress. He said that scientists’ ability to rapidly and cheaply pinpoint mutations will encourage far more extensive genetic screens.

“Forward genetic screening of mutants is conceptually extraordinarily elegant,” said Hobert. “In reality, however, people have a hard time fully and exhaustively harvesting the fruits of many genetic screens because it takes so much time to map and identify the molecular lesions in isolated mutants.

“Moreover, with deep sequencing technology, one can now focus gene characterization not just based on whether a gene has an interesting phenotype but also based on whether the molecular identity of the gene is of interest,” Hobert said. “For example, in the past, if you came up with fifty worm mutants that were unable to crawl, you had to more or less randomly pick which mutant to pursue. But with whole-genome, deep sequencing, at least in principle, you could sequence all fifty mutants and ask which genes look the most interesting in terms of the molecular identity – for example, because it has a human homolog – and further characterize those. As importantly, deep sequencing also allows you to identify the molecular identity of mutants that would have been otherwise very hard to map by conventional methods, such as behavioral mutants or modifier mutants. This whole technology is a true blessing for classic genetic analysis.”

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The Importance of Water While Fasting

We know that water is important for every aspect of health, but did you know that it becomes even more vital during a cleanse or a fast? Water enables the body to handle the stress of fasting or cleansing, eliminate toxins, avoid headaches and tiredness and reduce cravings.

Water is the human body’s most-needed nutrient after oxygen. Our bodies are roughly 60% water by weight and depend on water to function. Every bodily process, from digestion to the functioning of the brain, involves water, and dehydration has some severe health risks, including fever, low blood pressure, rapid heartbeat, unconsciousness and even hallucinations. Even mild dehydration can result in tiredness, headaches, confusion, dry skin, muscle weakness, dizziness, irritability, and lightheadedness, so it’s vital to make sure to drink plenty of water.

How much is enough? Experts differ on exactly how much water we need daily, but some of the most common recommendations include:

– 8 10-oz glasses per day,

– 2 to 3 liters per day, or

– half of your body weight (pounds) in ounces – e.g. If you weigh 150 pounds, you should drink 75 ounces of water each day (roughly 7-1/2 full glasses)

If you’re involved in strenuous exercise, live in a hot climate, or if you’re doing a fast or a cleanse, you need even more water than usual to take care of your body’s increased needs. Athletes lose more water through sweat than the rest of us, and people who are cleansing or fasting need additional water to flush toxins out of the body.

In a total fast, where no food is being consumed, your body relies on stored energy (mostly in the form of fat) to keep your cells running. The trouble is, fat cells are also the storage centers for many kinds of toxins that the body finds it easier to store than to eliminate. During a fast or a cleanse, these toxins are released back into the bloodstream along with converted energy stores, and the body must find a way to remove them. Water is the key to flushing these toxins out of the body – the more water, the better.

Many people don’t get nearly enough water in their daily diet, in which case, food becomes an important source of water. Foods like fresh fruits and vegetables are loaded with water. Fasting takes away this water source, so it’s even more important to drink more water during a fast.

Even less intensive fasts that only restrict certain foods, like the Lenten fast in which Christians avoid sweets, meat and alcoholic products, can trigger a cleansing reaction and cause headaches, fatigue and cravings. Water is key to fighting all three of these symptoms. If you don’t enjoy the taste of pure water, herbal tea or diluted (watered-down) fruit juice can also be great sources of hydration.

  • Read more: Five tips for Safe and Healthy Fasting

Mayo Clinic, “Water: How much should you drink every day?” April 19, 2008.

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Tax on High-Cost Health Insurance Plans

Some lawmakers want to place a tax on high-cost, so-called “Cadillac” health insurance plans to raise money to help pay for health care reform. Others say such a move will hurt the middle-class, resulting in higher health insurance premiums and thus running counter to what health care reform reportedly is trying to achieve.

The American Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), the main lobbying group for the US health insurance industry, released a report October 10-11 entitled “Potential Impact of Health Reform on the Cost of Private Health Insurance Coverage.” The report states, among other things, that the current healthcare reform proposal will increase health insurance costs even more than if no legislation is passed. The AHIP has issues with many of the provisions in the current proposal, including the “Cadillac” plans, which the trade group says will result in insurance companies passing their tax costs onto consumers.

Advocates for the tax on health insurance plans argue that the tax, which will be imposed on health insurers, would provide more than $200 billion, which is about 25 percent of what is necessary to pay for the proposed healthcare legislation. They also insist the tax will encourage employers and employees to purchase less expensive health insurance plans.

Dissenters, who include House members, business, and labor unions, say that the tax would raise health insurance premiums or costs among middle-class consumers. Purchasing a lower cost health insurance plan, for example, could involve much higher deductibles and copays, resulting in higher costs for consumers.

If the tax on high-end health insurance plans is passed as it now stands under the Finance Committee bill, the tax would begin in 2013 and be imposed on employer-sponsored health plans that have total premiums greater than $8,000 for individuals and $21,000 for families. Rather than send employers scrambling for lower cost health insurance plans, critics of the proposal say the move would increase premiums or out-of-pocket costs for employees for their health care.

How many health insurance policies would be affected by the proposed tax? The Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation estimates that when the tax is initiated, 14 percent of family policies and 19 percent of individual policies would feel the tax. These numbers are expected to rise to 37 percent and 41 percent, respectively, by the year 2019, because health insurance premiums are expected to rise faster than inflation.

In a October 12 New York Times article, James P. Gelfand, senior manager of health policy at the United States Chamber of Commerce, noted that passage of the tax on high-cost health insurance policies will force employers to lower wages, reduce employee benefits, or increase cost-sharing. At least half of the members of the Communications Workers of America would be impacted by the tax in 2013, according to Larry Cohen, president of the group.

Like so many provisions in the proposed healthcare reform legislation, a tax on high-cost health insurance plans is a complex issue with ardent advocates on both sides of the question. In the middle of the barrage of claims being tossed back and forth are the American people, monkeys in the middle, waiting for someone to call time out and to explain the real rules of the game that is being played with our health care and our future.

American Health Insurance Plans report
New York Times, October 12 2009


Deborah Mitchell

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New HealthGrades Report Rates 5,000 US Hospitals

If you needed heart surgery or a knee replacement, or if you had a stroke, do you know which hospitals could provide the best care? HealthGrades has just released The Twelfth Annual HealthGrades Hospital Quality in America Study, which rates US hospitals on procedures and diagnoses, mortality and complication rates, and lets consumers see the ratings for 5,000 hospitals online.

With a click of a mouse, consumers can access information about how hospitals in their area and around the country rate on 28 different procedures and diagnoses, including but not limited to appendectomy, total hip replacement, stroke, pneumonia, bowel obstruction, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart failure, heart attack, and pancreatitis. The study’s authors gathered and examined information from nearly 40 million Medicare hospitalization records from 2006 through 2008.

Hospitals were rated with one, three, or five stars: one indicates poor performance; three is performance as expected; and five is performance better than predicted. Overall, the investigators found that 70 to 80 percent of hospitals in each procedure/diagnosis were given three stars, 10 to 15 percent were rated with one star, and 10 to 15 were rated with five stars.

Among the study’s findings, patients have an approximately 71 percent lower chance of dying in a five-star rated hospital compared to a one-star rated hospital. More generally, patients who check into a highly rated hospital have a 52 percent lower chance of dying compared with the US hospital average.

The study also found that more than half (57 percent) of potentially preventable deaths are associated with four diagnoses: sepsis, pneumonia, heart failure, and respiratory failure. When it comes to complications associated with orthopedic procedures, there was approximately a 79 percent lower chance of experiencing one or more inhospital complications in a five-star rated hospital compared to a one-star rated hospital.

When hospitals were evaluated for stroke outcomes, facilities that have been certified as a Center of Excellence in Stroke Care by The Joint Commission had better outcomes compared with hospitals without the certification. Hospitals with stroke certification are nearly twice as likely to have a five-star rating in stroke than one-star rated hospitals. If you are looking for the best performing hospitals, head to the East North Central states of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin. The study provides a wealth of information on performance in every region of the country in many categories.

None of the hospitals in the study have the choice to opt-in or opt-out of the evaluation, and no hospital pays to be rated. All of the mortality and complication rates are adjusted according to risk, which takes into account different degrees of severity of patient illness at different hospitals and ensures all hospitals are evaluated on an equal basis. Access to the full HealthGrades Hospital Quality in America Study (PDF) is available online. Consumers can also find individual quality ratings for individual hospitals, doctors, and nursing homes in their region and around the country on the HealthGrades website.

HealthGrades report


Deborah Mitchell

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Sex, violence, and hormones

When male robins enter the breeding season, their testosterone level rises. They become aggressive and amorous. Testosterone has remarkably similar effects on men.

This conclusion does not sit well with most psychologists. Psychology professors emphasize that whereas men with low testosterone levels are generally low on aggression and have a low sex drive, men who are high on testosterone may be neither aggressive nor randy.

Why are we so comfortable with assuming that other animals are controlled by their hormones whereas humans are not? The prevailing view is that human behavior is regulated by higher cognitive processes. Reason cools the blood, allowing us to take responsibility for our actions. This is an ancient philosophical formula that was most explicitly developed by French Philosopher Rene Descartes (1596-1650). Yet, even Descartes did not believe the rational soul was always in charge and accepted that there are times when humans are ruled by their passions.

Evidence that human behavior is partly governed by hormones is mainly restricted to correlations, which are not the same as causes. At least one experiment found that large doses of testosterone increased aggression but only for a small proportion of men. Young men who use anabolic steroids – a synthetic version of testosterone – are also more likely to be involved in violent crime. Taken together, such findings imply that high levels of testosterone can cause aggression in at least some men. Other evidence points in the same direction.

Young men experience peaks in criminal behavior and testosterone production at around the same ages. When they marry, men experience a decline in both testosterone production and criminal offending when compared with single men of the same age.

It seems that marriage has a civilizing effect on men because it reduces their testosterone levels. Of course it would be impossible to randomly assign some men to marry and others to remain single in order to test this hypothesis experimentally.

The next best thing is a natural experiment. When men divorce and begin dating again, their testosterone level rises, just as it does for male robins in the breedingseason.

What is more, their involvement in violent crime increases. This is at least partly due to an altered lifestyle with more time spent staying out late at night in clubs and bars where single women are encountered. Increased alcohol consumption is a complicating factor as this clouds reason and impairs judgment.

As correlations go, the link between testosterone and violent crime is arguably as compelling as the link between testosterone and mating aggression for robins and other animals. Indeed, one can argue that most violent crimes occur because of reproductive competition (e.g., male-male assaults and homicides, domestic violence).

What about the link between testosterone and amorousness in the human male? Once again, the evidence is interesting. Male sexual desire is believed to peak in early adulthood at about the same time as testosterone peaks in the lifespan. Recent research also finds that testosterone levels increase when men encounter attractive women and engage in sexual intercourse.

Men are not the same as male robins, of course and you cannot really understand crimes of violence without also studying societal differences (such as the ratio of men to women), contextual factors (such as location relative to a bar), and behavioral issues (such as why someone got pushed while standing in a line). Even so, the correlation between aggression and testosterone has many remarkable similarities across many vertebrate species that happen to include humans and robins. The same applies to sexual motivation, of course. Anyone who leaves out testosterone in their analysis of human male aggression and sexuality can never hope to understand these phenomena in their true complexity which requires comparisons with other species.

Of course, by saying that hormones play a role in human behavior, including violent crime, one inevitably evokes the old canard that testosterone levels are an excuse for antisocial behavior. The fact is that serious crimes of violence occur at remarkably low rates in modern societies. This means that most young men never engage in any criminal violence, however high their testosterone levels. Still, violent crime is largely perpetrated by young men and high testosterone is a factor in their reckless conduct that we ignore at our peril.

Women have passions as well as men of course. In my next post, I demonstrate that womanly passions are also affected by hormones.

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Myths about Children’s Eye Health Dispelled

Children who sit too close to the TV or computer monitor will ruin their eyes: true or false? It’s a myth, according to physicians at The Vision Center at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. A team of experts have compiled a list of myths about children’s eye health for parents and others who care for young people.

Sometimes we cling to old wives’ tales or myths about health issues, neglecting to change our thinking or habits when scientists reveal updated information. Several myths surrounding children’s eye health have been circulating for decades, and it is time for parents to review what is true versus what has been held as truth when it comes to their children’s vision.

Myth: Children who sit too close to the television or computer screen will ruin their eyes. Fact: Children who have this habit likely need glasses. Although looking at television and computer screens for long periods of time can cause eye strain and fatigue, accompanied by headache, blurry vision, and red eyes, it does not cause permanent damage to children’s eyes. To reduce the risk of these symptoms, children should take a brief break from looking at the screen every 20 minutes or so. Proper lighting that minimizes screen glare is also essential.

Myth: Contact lenses are for adults only. Fact: Even infants can wear contact lenses without safety issues if parents follow the physician’s instructions. For children younger than age 10, adults need to insert, remove, and clean the lenses. Depending on the maturity of the child, those older than 10 can usually take responsibility for their own contact lenses. Children and their parents can get instructions from their ophthalmologist or optometrist.

Myth: Children should eat lots of carrots to improve their eye health. Fact: Although carrots contain vitamin A, which is an important nutrient and one that can help treat night blindness, eating lots of carrots will not improve children’s vision. A number of nutrients have been found to benefit eye health, including vitamins C and E, zinc, copper, omega-3 fatty acids, and lutein. Foods and supplements that contain these nutrients are recommended.

Myth: Young children don’t like to wear sunglasses. Fact: Young children need to wear sunglasses because their lenses have not matured enough to adequately protect the retina from ultraviolet rays. Young children love to mimic their parents and older siblings, so make sure everyone in the family wears sunglasses. Some newer styles have strap-on frames that are easy for young children, and they come in fun colors.

Myth: Running with scissors is the main cause of eye injury in children. Fact: Most eye injuries in children are related to sports or leisure activities. Among children 14 years and younger, baseball is the sport that causes the most eye injuries in children, according to the National Eye Institute. Children ages 15 to 24 suffer eye injuries primarily related to basketball. To protect eye health in children, those who play contact sport such as baseball, basketball, and racquet sports need to wear eye protection. According to Prevent Blindness America, regular eyeglasses do not provide enough protection. Children should wear lensed polycarbonate protectors when playing contact sports.

Taking care of your children’s eye health today will help ensure they have a bright future. It is also important that they learn good eye health care at an early age so they carry the habits with them throughout their lives.

Prevent Blindness America
Vision Center at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles


Deborah Mitchell

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Benefits of Fish in Heart Failure Questioned

Several years ago, the results of a 12-year study found that eating fish was associated with a reduced incidence of heart failure. That was in 2005. Today, results of a new study which also followed the participants for nearly 12 years found that fish consumption does not play a major role in preventing heart failure.

Contradictory or questionable study results are certainly nothing new and provide opportunities for healthcare consumers and experts to reexamine the research and the methods used. Such scrutiny is especially important when the health condition being examined is both life-threatening and pervasive. Heart failure, a condition characterized by an inability of the heart to pump enough blood through the body, affects about 5 million Americans, according to the Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. It contributes to about 300,000 deaths per year.

In the current study, the results of which were published in the October issue of the European Journal of Heart Failure, the investigators evaluated data from a group of 5,299 men and women older than 55 years who lived in a suburb or Rotterdam. All were free of heart failure when they entered the study in 1990. During the 11.4 years of follow-up, 669 participants developed heart failure. The diet of each participant had been assessed at baseline, and everyone was asked specifically to indicate the amount, type, and frequency of fish consumed.

The cardiovascular benefits associated with fish are related to the omega-3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) that they contain. Both EPA and DHA have demonstrated anti-inflammatory, anti-arrhythmic, and anti-hypertensive properties, as well as an ability to reduce triglyceride levels.

In the latest study, the researchers found no correlation between the amount of fish consumed and heart failure incidence. This lack of effect remained even when comparing high daily fish consumption (more than 20 grams) with no fish intake.

In the earlier study, which was published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 4,738 participants ages 65 year or older were followed for 12 years. When compared with fish consumption of less than one time per month, those who ate fish 1 to 2 times per week had a 20 percent reduced risk of heart failure; 3 to 4 times weekly, a 31 percent reduce risk; and a 37 percent reduce risk was seen when comparing the highest intake with the lowest.

Although the results of the newest study did not show fish to help prevent heart failure, the authors noted that they agree with the current general recommendation of two weekly servings of fish for the prevention of cardiovascular disease. Fish is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, and a good source of vitamin D, selenium, and protein. They also pointed out that other research has been consistent in showing omega-3 fatty acids to be protective against coronary heart disease.

Dijkstra et al. European Journal of Heart Failure 2009; 11(10): 922 DOI: 10.1093/eurjhf/hfp126
Heart, Lung and Blood Institute
Mozaffarian D et al. Journal of the American College of Cardiology 2005; 45: 2015

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Homosexual or Gay? Defining Homosexuality

Why are people called homosexual or gay, and what does it mean?

The terms heterosexual and homosexual are rarely used in everyday speech. More often people use slang words or terms which are abusive. Throughout the last century the terms used to describe gay people and that gay people used to describe themselves, have changed. These changes are important in telling us a lot about how lesbian and gay people lived their lives and felt about themselves as well as social reactions to them. What about the terms, ’straight’, ‘gay’ and ‘lesbian’ which are commonly used?

The term ‘homosexual’ is not nowadays sex specific. It was first used by Victorian scientists who regarded same-sex attraction and sexual behaviour as symptoms of mental disorders or moral deficiency. Homosexual men and women decided to use the term ‘gay’ in order to distance themselves from being labelled as somehow abnormal or ill. In fact, some people find the term ‘homosexual’ insulting and abusive and object to its use.

Generally, the terms ‘gay’ and ‘lesbian’ are seen as being less laden with negative implications than ‘homosexual’. The term ‘gay’ is used to describe both homosexual men and lesbian women but has become particularly associated with homosexual men. Its derivation is unclear but may come from the nineteenth century French slang for a homosexual man ‘gaie’. Throughout this century it has been used as a sort of code word between homosexual men.

However, in the late fifties and sixties it came into everyday use in association with the struggle for gay rights. In this context the word ‘gay’ came to represent, as it does now, a word with no negative connotations but associated with a positive and proud sense of identity. Nowadays, the term ‘lesbian’ is used in relation to homosexual women and is derived from Lesbos, the name of the Greek island on which the lesbian poet Sappho lived in antiquity. In the past homosexual women have been called ‘Sapphist’ (again after Sappho). ‘Straight’ is used to describe heterosexual people and is an equivalent term to ‘gay’.

‘I don’t mind so much what people call me as what they mean by it. I have been called a dizzy queen by some friends, and that’s all right. But, mostly with people who are seriously prejudiced it’s about how they say it – they say ‘gay’ like it’s a curse not something to be proud of.’ Mark, 19
Choosing which term to use and how to use it can be troubling. If a person is describing themselves they can be anxious about the reaction they might get. If a person is talking about someone else, or the issue in general, they can feel anxious about causing offence or saying the wrong thing.

‘I think that everyone is OK with the term ‘gay’ nowadays. It says something about lifestyle and identity as well as sexual behaviour which homosexual doesn’t seem to do. I describe myself as ’straight’ so I would use the word ‘gay’ in the classroom. Anyway it’s what the kids would say. But they do need to be clear about what all the terms mean otherwise telling off for being homophobic doesn’t make any sense to them. They say; ‘it’s just a word sir’.’ Teacher
Some men and women generally describe themselves as either ‘gay’ or ’straight’. Using these words gets away from the negative overtones of terminology like ‘homosexual’ or ‘heterosexual’ which for these people can feel too “medical”. However, words like ‘homosexual’ and ‘heterosexual’ can have advantages in other contexts. Communication is a complex affair in which not only what words are used matters but also who is saying them, about whom and in what context.

For example, in school the term ‘gay’ is used a lot as an insult, and is not a word with positive overtones. A person called ‘gay’ by homophobic bullies in school might find it abusive because of the way it is said but the same person might happily call themselves ‘gay’ when they are with friends.

Defining homosexuality

How do you define homosexuality? Although the answer would appear to be simple, on closer examination it is more complex. People writing to magazine problem pages seem to define homosexuality using three criteria:

having sexual feelings towards other people of the same sex;
sexual behaviour with people of the same sex;
and describing oneself as homosexual.
It can be helpful to think of these elements of a person’s sexuality in a visual way. It is possible to conceive of sexual feelings, identity and behaviour as three circles which overlap to varying degrees depending on the individual.

Thinking first of sexual feelings and behaviour we can imagine a situation in which two different people might be represented by the diagrams below. In the first diagram the circles overlap about halfway. This person might be attracted to people of the same sex without acting on it – equally they might be having sex with people of the same sex but feeling like most of their sexual feelings are directed to people of the opposite sex. In the second diagram this person’s sexual feelings and behaviour go together so that they feel attracted to people of the same sex and have sex with people of the same sex.

In the next situation, thinking of sexual feelings and identity, we can imagine how different people might be represented by these diagrams below. The first represents a person who is attracted to people of the same sex but does not always choose to call themselves gay. In the second diagram this person’s sexual feelings and how they describe themselves are completely related.
Thinking of these diagrams it is clear that they could apply equally to defining homosexual or heterosexual behaviour. They also show that defining sexuality depends very much on the individual in question, their sexual feelings, behaviour and how they describe themselves. There is a wide spectrum of potential relationships between the three elements. In other words it can be helpful to think of a spectrum of experience from exclusively homosexual to exclusively heterosexual with many people in between. Sometimes people who feel equally attracted to men and women and have sex with both, choose to place themselves in between and call themselves bisexual.

The main points to bear in mind when defining heterosexuality or homosexuality are:

The three main factors are sexual attraction, sexual behaviour and identity. For most people the factors go together in congruent way. So people tend to behave sexually in line with their sexual feelings. i.e. People tend to be sexually active with people they are attracted to.
However, sexual identity and behaviour may be quite fluid over a period of time and they may not always coincide with each other as people’s feelings change. For example, a person may have at some point in their life a partner of the opposite sex and then later on someone of the same sex.
Applying labels to people is not necessarily a good or accurate way of describing them. There may be phases in a person’s life when their sexual feelings and behaviour are very clearly homosexual or heterosexual. However, at other times, labelling them as heterosexual or homosexual does not fit exactly with their sexual behaviour or feelings.
However, falling back on simple dichotomising definitions of homosexuality and heterosexuality can be appealing because it keeps the distinctions between them clear. Some common beliefs involve doing precisely this by showing homosexuality as a kind of reflection of heterosexuality. For example:

Believing that some occupations and interests are more attractive and more suitable for heterosexual and others more attractive and suitable for homosexual people. For example, regarding sports as predominantly heterosexual and performing arts as homosexual.
Assuming that when two lesbian women or two gay men are in a sexual relationship they will adopt roles which are traditionally masculine and feminine.
Believing that lesbian and gay people can be identified by the way they look and talk. Thinking, for example, that gay men look more effeminate than straight men and lesbian women look more masculine than straight women.
Any examination of homosexuality inevitably brings into the open implicit assumptions about what heterosexuality is. Stereotypes of heterosexuality and homosexuality and the rigid boundaries between them can be explored by asking questions like:

Do a homosexual couple in love and a heterosexual couple in love experience the same feelings?
If a person who calls themselves heterosexual has sex with someone of the same sex are they heterosexual, homosexual or bisexual?

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More Research On Medical Imaging Needed

In a new study of nearly one million adults between the ages of 18 and 64, nearly 70 percent of participants underwent at least one medical imaging procedure between July 2005 and December 2007, resulting in an average effective dose of radiation nearly double the amount they would otherwise be exposed to from natural sources. Nearly 20 percent of participants received at least moderate annual doses of radiation from diagnostic tests, and women and older individuals were at greater risk for radiation exposure, according to a report in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The study looked at imaging procedures involving radiation for diagnostic or treatment purposes; procedures in which radiation was specifically delivered for treatment, such as radiation for cancer, were excluded. Computed tomography (CT) scans and nuclear imaging accounted for three-fourths of radiation exposure, with nuclear stress tests to detect coronary heart disease, also known as myocardial perfusion imaging, cited as the procedure accounting for the largest single radiation exposure (22 percent of total effective dose in study participants).

In an accompanying Perspective article, “Elements of Danger – The Case of Medical Imaging,” Michael S. Lauer, M.D., director of the Divisions of Prevention and Population Sciences and of Cardiovascular Diseases at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), calls for more research to demonstrate whether the use of cardiovascular imaging tests, such as myocardial perfusion imaging and CT scans, improves patient outcomes. He notes that “no large-scale, randomized trials have shown that imaging [in patients with stable or suspected heart disease] prolongs life, improves quality of life, prevents major clinical events [such as heart attacks], or reduces long-term medical costs.” The NHLBI is part of the National Institutes of Health.

Studies are needed to determine whether the benefits of such imaging procedures to diagnosis and treat patients outweigh the potential risks of cumulative radiation exposure, according to Lauer. He calls on clinicians to “think and talk explicitly about the elements of danger in exposing our patients to radiation. This means taking a careful history to determine the cumulative dose of radiation a patient has already received and providing proper, personalized information to each patient about the risk” of developing cancer from cumulative exposure to radiation.


National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

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SAMHSA Updates Directory Of Drug, Alcohol Abuse Treatment Programs

A new, updated guide to finding local substance abuse treatment programs is now available from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). National Directory of Drug and Alcohol Abuse Treatment Programs 2008 provides information on thousands of alcohol and drug treatment programs located in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and five U.S. territories.

This SAMHSA National Directory includes public and private facilities that are licensed, certified, or otherwise approved by substance abuse agencies in each state. A nationwide inventory of substance abuse and alcoholism treatment programs and facilities, the National Directory is organized and presented in a state-by-state format for quick reference by health care providers, social workers, managed care organizations, and the general public. This latest SAMHSA directory provides information on more than 11,000 community substance abuse treatment programs.

The directory gives important information on levels of care and types of facilities, including those with programs for adolescents, persons with co-occurring substance abuse and mental disorders, individuals living with HIV/AIDS, and pregnant women. In addition, the SAMHSA directory includes information on forms of payment accepted, special language services available with select providers, and whether methadone or buprenorphine therapy is offered.

The updated directory complements SAMHSA’s internet-based Substance Abuse Treatment Facility Locator. The online service, which is updated regularly and may contain more current information, provides searchable road maps to the nearest treatment facilities, complete addresses, phone numbers and specific information on services available.


Substance Abuse And Mental Health Services Administration

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More People Using Alternative Health Therapies

Americans spends about 34 billion dollars on alternative health according to the first national estimate of such out-of-pocket spending in more than a decade. This indicates that more people are using alternative therapies.

Alternative health and complicacy practices include the use of herbal and vitamin supplements, meditation, message, chiropractic, acupuncture, biofeedback, energy work, yoga, Ayurvedic medicine, and homeopathic treatment. Alterative therapies include treatment that is not part of conventional medicine.

Out of the $33.9 billion spent out-of-pocket on alternative health, about $22 billion went toward self-care costs. Most of the money ($14.8 billion) went to buy non-vitamin, non-mineral natural products such as fish oil, glucosamine and echinacea, according to the report. That’s equivalent to about one-third of total out-of-pocket spending on prescription drugs, which is a clear indication that more people are using alternative therapies the researchers noted.

Dr. David L. Katz, director of the Prevention Research Center at Yale University School of Medicine and director of the Integrative Medicine Center at Griffin Hospital in Derby, Conn. said “this report lends support to the growing field of integrative medicine, which strives to blend conventional and complementary practicesthoughtfully and in light of the available evidence.”

In the United States, alternative therapies accounts for 1.5 percent of all health-care costs in the United States, but 11.2 percent of all out-of-pocket costs. Total health-care spending in the United States totals $2.2 trillion and out-of-pocket costs for conventional medicine comprise $286.6 billion, according to the report.

It is suggested that the rise of use in alternative health because the cost of medical treatment continue to raise year after year alternative medicine serves as another way of healing. Certain therapies not only are cheaper, it could also be effective.

Other reasons include conventional medicine focuses on the relief of symptoms and rarely places emphasis on prevention or the treatment of the cause of a disorder. All alternative systems, on the other hand, strive to find and treat the cause of a disorder and frown on covering up the symptoms. Alternative therapies are also much more focused on prevention which tends to get people more involved with their care.

Alternative medicine equals hope for so many people. Many people who found no cure with conventional medicine seem to find some hope or relief with alternative therapies which is why more people are using alternative therapies.

References: Associated Press and National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

Written by Tyler Woods Ph.D.
Tucson, Arizona
Exclusive to eMaxHealth

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Pathologists Find Research Rules Too Complex

Ninety two per cent of pathologists feel that the regulations controlling their work using human tissues is too complicated and a lack of useful guidance puts them off carrying out this research, according to a report published by the national cancer biobanking group onCore UK .

This lack of guidance means that 60 percent of pathologists find research using human tissues difficult while 13 per cent are deterred from this type of research completely, as the regulatory environment is seen as strict.

The survey, which was carried out in collaboration with the Pathological Society, questioned 242 pathologists and researchers who work in the NHS and universities. Pathology research is vital to understand how diseases like cancer develop and can lead to new strategies to tackling disease, but in the UK it has been on the decline for several years. One of the perceived barriers to pathology research is the complexity of regulation that researchers must follow.

Clear and appropriate guidance is needed to ensure that pathology research can prosper again, which most researchers do not currently believe exists. Only 17 per cent were certain where to find it and how to use this guidance while the majority, 58 per cent, felt that they need assistance finding it or it requires work to find it.

When they are able to find the guidance 70 per cent reported that the provision of guidance by different sources can be confusing, unhelpful or time wasting.

Dr Brian Clark, chief executive officer of onCore UK, said: “Our survey shows how the lack of coherent and clear guidance for researchers is deterring them from research with human tissues and biological samples. 83 per cent of respondents said that they would be more active in research if there was an easily accessible source of consolidated guidance endorsed by all regulators – that is extremely telling.

“In a strict regulatory and governance environment the antidote to encourage researchers should be provided through effective and clear guidance. This guidance should be readily accessible, from easily identified sources, be authoritative, trusted, and consistent to ease the path of research and not impede it.”

This report will support the work of the National Cancer Research Institute’s (NCRI) Task Force on Pathology and Research which is exploring why pathology research in the UK is on the decline. To better understand this and inform the work of the Task Force, onCore UK conducted this survey to gain evidence for why pathology is on the decline.

Guidance and support on some aspects of research are already provided by the Medical Research Council (MRC) through web based Tool Kits developed by its Regulatory Support Centre.

Dr Sarah Dickson, head of the MRC Regulatory Support Centre: “Pathology is fundamental to the advancement of medical science, and in response to this survey, the Centre will enhance the Data and Tissues Tool Kit, in partnership, to further assist pathologists with research. This will include the consolidation of consistent guidance, which is well publicised and freely available to all.”

Professor David Levison, chair of the NCRI Task Force on Pathology and Research, said: “The results of this survey, on perceptions of the regulatory environment governing the use of human tissues for research, will inform our work on the barriers that prevent pathologists engaging with research. We need to understand such constraints to be able to create an environment where translational research in the UK works effectively and efficiently”.

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NFL forms concussion and brain injury committee

In response to a study on NFL player link to Alzheimer’s just released, the National Football League announced last week that it is forming a concussion and brain injury committee. With the higher number of dementia noted in a correlational study that was commissioned by the NFL Player Care Foundation, evaluation of several aspects of the game and injury are essential.

Football is a national favorite when it comes to sports. Football can also be a dangerous sport, resulting in multiple concussions and some brain injuries. The concussion and brain injury committee has been assembled to evaluate just how safe the game is and to make recommendations, not just for the NFL but for college and high school football, too.

The committee will be evaluating how concussions are diagnosed, how they are treated, and also how to prevent concussions from occurring in the first place. Traumatic brain injury is another area that will be explored by the concussion and brain injury committee. In addition to all this, the long-term effects of cumulative injuries will be explored and evaluated.

With the higher rate of dementia and dementia-type diagnoses in retired football players, perhaps the information that is found will help to make the game safer. The study is not a causal relationship, in fact, the study is not peer reviewed and many limitations exist. Still, the results are indicative of the need for further study, but also the need to take action in order to provide safety for the players.

Apparently, the NFL Player Care Foundation intends to do more research as several NFL players have donated their brains to research for the very purpose of helping their fellow players as well as to find out what the results are of repeated concussions over a long period of time. The research may be able to assist with other types of sports as well, such as boxing. The formation of a concussion and brain injury committee is the first step in a line of many to find answers to these questions.

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Poisoning: Top Cause Of Unintentional Injury Deaths In Snohomish County

On one side of the body, common on the face and other parts of the body, one begins to feel the uncomfortable tingling, intense pain, and itching. It is usually confusing as to what the problem may be, until the rash appears. The blistering appearance is accompanied by numbness and fever, too. Now a new study that will be published in the November issue of the American Heart Association journal Stroke states shingles has become yet another risk factor for stroke.

In the study it was found that those who have shingles in or near the eyes are at an even higher risk for stroke. The herpes zoster virus, the cause of the shingles increases the risk for stroke about 31 percent higher than those who have not had the shingles. Everyone who has had the chicken pox is at risk for developing shingles as the chicken pox virus lies dormant in a person’s body until many years later, stress or a decreased immune system reawakens the virus, causing shingles to develop. The pain from shingles can last for years, writes Reuters.

Shingles causes damage to the walls of blood vessels, causing inflammation. The stroke that occurs is usually an ischemic attack, caused by blocked arteries, writes WebMD. Hemorrhagic strokes are those where there is bleeding into the brain, and these are much less common than ischemic stroke.

Daniel Lackland, MD, spokesman for the American Stroke Association states that both patients with shingles and their doctors should be on the alert for possible stroke, but he also adds that the risk is not nearly as high as the risk someone has when they are hypertensive. He states that getting blood pressure under control is the most important modifiable factor for stroke.

Signs and symptoms of stroke include the following:

* Sudden numbness, paralysis, or weakness in the face, arm, or leg, especially if it is localized on one side of the body
* New problems with walking or balance
* Sudden vision changes
* Drooling or slurred speech
* New problems with speaking and understanding a simple statement
* Feeling confused
* Very important: a sudden, severe headache that is genuinely different from other headaches experienced.

If you think you may be having a stroke, call 911 and get to the emergency room as soon as possible.

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Microscopy Methods Increase Imaging Efficiency

Scientists in the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) Laboratory of Bioengineering and Physical Science have developed a new technique that allows researchers to visualize fine details of cell structure three-dimensionally in thick sections, thus providing greater insight into how cells are organized and how they function. The work is described in a report published online this week in Nature Methods.

The new electron tomography method, referred to as BF STEM tomography, lets researchers image samples that are more than three times the thickness of typical samples.

Electron tomography is carried out at the nanoscale on individual cells. Conventionally, high-resolution imaging of biological specimens has been accomplished by cutting cells into thin sections (300 nanometers or less) and imaging each section separately. Although reconstructing an entire structure from thin sections is laborious, thin sections are used because images of thicker sections typically are blurred. Serial BF STEM tomography accomplishes the same work using fewer yet thicker specimen sections, leading to faster reconstruction of intact organelles, intracellular pathogens, and even entire mammalian cells.

Drs. Alioscka Sousa, Martin Hohmann-Marriott, Richard Leapman and colleagues in NIBIB, in collaboration with Dr. Joshua Zimmerberg and colleagues in the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), demonstrated feasibility and advantages of BF-STEM tomography in a study of red blood cells infected with Plasmodium falciparum, a parasite that causes malaria. High-resolution 3D reconstructions of entire cells were generated by serially imaging just a few thick sections. The intricate system of red blood cell and parasite membranes, as well as several organelles, can be seen in detail.

“We believe that the new technique, which was conceived by Dr. Sousa on the project team, will lead to improved 3D visualization of larger internal structures in mammalian cells at a nanoscale. And it will complement cryo electron tomography and super-resolution optical imaging approaches,” according to Dr. Leapman.

Most high-performance electron microscopes can readily be equipped to utilize the BF STEM tomography approach. “This exciting new method, with its ability to provide nanoscale structural details over three dimensions, has the potential for broad application in cell biology,” says NIBIB Director Roderic Pettigrew. “This should open new vistas in the understanding of the interplay between cellular structure and function, and is a great example of NIBIB-supported research that moves medical science forward through technological innovation.”

This work was supported by the Intramural Research Programs of the NIBIB and the NICHD at the National Institutes of Health. In addition, Dr. Hohmann-Marriott received support through the Joint NIST/NIBIB Postdoctoral Associateship Program of the National Research Council, USA.


National Institutes Of Health

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Alberta Improves Patient Care, Health System Performance

An advisory committee has been appointed to ensure appropriate legislation is in place to allow for improved health system performance and patient care.

The Minister’s Advisory Committee on Health will look at strengthening legislation to support improvements to Alberta’s publicly funded health care system.

The committee will provide advice on a number of areas related to health legislation that will focus on ways of broadening patient access to health services, promoting wellness and ensuring the health system can respond to emerging issues such as advances in medical technology on a timely basis.

“The committee will inform and guide government on what legislative changes are needed to improve the performance of our publicly funded health care system,” said Health and Wellness Minister Ron Liepert. “At the end of the day, we need to reinvigorate our health care system to ensure it is responding to and meeting the needs of Albertans.”

“The committee’s work is an important step in the process,” added Liepert. “Much of our legislation defines how our health care system works, but it doesn’t always meet the needs of the patient. As we move toward delivering health care through new and better ways, the needs of the patient must always be our first priority.”

The 16-member committee will be co-chaired by Fred Horne, MLA for Edmonton-Rutherford and Deborah Prowse, a patient safety advocate.

The committee begins work immediately and will seek input from health sector stakeholders and the public over the next two months. The committee will provide advice to the minister by mid-November

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Methylcobalamin nutrient offers solution for sleep disorders, mental alertness

Consumers suffering from mental decline, sleeplessness or other nervous system disorders may be feeling the effects of vitamin B12 deficiency, according to recent research.

Deficiency of vitamin B12 can cause a wide range of health problems, many of which can be mistaken for other disorders. For example, elderly people experiencing cognitive decline may be misdiagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, when in reality they are suffering the effects of long-term B12 deficiency.

Deficiency of the vitamin is most often because the body’s method of absorbing it is defective, which can result in deadly anemia, sleeping disorders or mental decline. Because B12 is only found in animal foods, vegetarians must be especially careful to supplement their diets with B12 vitamin capsules or injections. Those lacking sufficient levels of the vitamin can easily supplement with oral doses of highly absorbable B12 — methylcobalamin.

Methylcobalamin is the most active and easily absorbed form of B12. Though the vitamin is available in other forms — such as cyanocobalamin, hydroxycobalamin and adenosylcobalamin — the methylcobalamin form is the easiest form for the body to process and utilize.

Though most people generally get adequate levels of methylcobalamin through their diets, if their B12 absorption mechanism is not properly functioning, the symptoms of their vitamin deficiency can be delayed for years, or can be masked as other disease symptoms.

In the elderly, deficiency can cause depression, numbness, pins and needles sensations or a burning feeling, as well as Alzheimer’s symptoms. It can also cause a swollen tongue and diarrhea.

In a large, double-blind study, 61 percent of elderly patients exhibiting signs of mental decline completely recovered from their symptoms after supplementing with methylcobalamin. The researchers believed that the 39 percent who did not fully recover had experienced irreversible brain damage as a result of long-term undiagnosed B12 deficiency.

Those suffering from sleep-wake disorder, which includes symptoms such as daytime sleepiness, restless nights and frequent nighttime awakenings, can be treated with 1.5 to 3 mg daily of methylcobalamin. Supplementation can also lead to better sleep quality, daytime alertness, increased concentration and better mood.

Vitamin B12 deficiency is generally treated by supplementing with 2 to 3 mg of methylcobalamin daily for at least one month, followed by daily doses of 1 mg.

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Gravity-Defying Boots For Walking

These Gravity-Defying Boots have a patented T-Spring system that transforms walking and jumping into an exhilarating low impact bounce that will build up your balance, burns calories, and strengthen your muscles.

These boots are for use on dry, flat surfaces while wearing appropriate safety gear.

The gravity defying boots come in sizes small, medium and large and they are great fun for adults and kids alike.

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Mental Illness Awareness Week Reaching Out

About 60 million Americans experience mental health problems in a given year. Mental awareness week is from October 4th-10th and this year a focus will be on reaching out to more and more Americans.

The National Mental Health Awareness Campaign is a nationwide non-partisan public education campaign that was launched as part of the 1999 White House Conference on Mental Health. They are dedicated to battling the stigma, shame, and myths surrounding mental disorders that prevent so many people from getting the help they need.

Mental Health Awareness Month is designed to increase awareness about mental illness and attempt to erase some of the social stigma that prevents many people with mental illnesses from seeking help.

This year The National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI) hopes for change. They want to reach out to more people and having more free public screenings formental health issues. “We know that with early detection, appropriate treatment and support from family and friends, people with mental illness can lead healthy, rewarding lives,” said Michael Fitzpatrick, NAMI executive director. “NAMI members connect to educate each other and encourage their loved ones during their personal journeys to wellness. NAMI offers hope to people during difficult times.”

Kim Arnold, executive director of NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) Arkansas, said about 60 million Americans experience mental health problems in any given year. One in 17 lives with the most serious conditions. “Mental illnesses are medical illnesses,” Arnold said. “That is the starting point for understanding, as well as treatment and recovery. Mental Illness does not discriminate. No one is immune.”

She said a mental illness such as anxiety disorder can be life altering. “They can’t an ordinary life if they can’t finish their ritual,” Arnold said. “Think about when you are panicky. Imagine what it would be like to feel like that all the time.”

With the increasing economical troubles and unemployment, mental health agencies want to increase their awareness so they can help people better cope with the demands and everyday stresses. NAMI hopes to reachout to more and more Americans.

Every city in every state will be having events to help promote the changes to reach out to more people this year more so than ever. Specials workshops, conferences, walks, and other events will be focusing on treatment and recognition of mental illness in our nation. Be sure to check with you local listings of events and screenings this week.

In addition, visit the website Live your life well for information tht can help you and your family become more aware that there is help and hope.

Materials from NAMI and Mental Health America are used in this report.

Written by Tyler Woods Ph.D.
Tucson, Arizona
Exclusive to eMaxHealth


Tyler Woods Ph.D.

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Role of Diet Plan in Losing Weight

For a healthy life, you should maintain a balance between the carbohydrates, fat and protein intake. This article emphasizes on the role of food in weight managementand how you can lose weight by diet specially designed for weight loss.

The intake of food must always be sufficient to supply the metabolic needs of the body. Since different foods contain different proportions of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, an appropriate balance must be maintained among these different types of food so that all segments can be supplied with the requisite materials.

The energy liberated from each gram of carbohydrate as it is oxidized to carbon dioxide and water is 4:1 calories (cal), and that liberated from fat is 9.3 calories. The energy liberated from metabolism of the average protein of the diet as each gram is oxidized to carbon dioxide, water and urea is 4.35 calories. Also these different substances vary in the average percentages that are absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract approximately 98% of carbohydrate, 95% of the fat, 92% of the protein.

Average American receives approximately 15% of their energy from protein, 40% from fat and 45% from carbohydrates. In most of the other parts of the world the quantity of energy derived from carbohydrates far exceeds that derived from both proteins and fats.

High proportions of fats and proteins are present in meat products and high proportions of carbohydrates are seen in vegetables and grain products. Fat is deceptive in the diet for it usually exists as 100% fat whereas both proteins and carbohydrates are mixed in watery media so that each of these normally represents less than 25% of the weight as food. Therefore, the fat of one pat of butter mixed with an entire helping of potatoes often contains as much energy as all the potato itself.

20 to 30 gms of the body proteins are degraded and used for producing other body chemicals daily. Therefore, all cells must continue to form new proteins to take the place of those that are being destroyed, and a supply of protein is needed in the diet for this purpose. An average person can maintain normal stores of protein provided the daily intake is above 30 to 55 gms. In general, proteins derived from animal foodstuffs are more nearly complete than are proteins derived from the vegetable and grain sources. Animal proteins have all the amino acids whereas many of the vegetable or grain proteins are only partial proteins.

When the diet contains an abundance of carbohydrates and fats almost all the body’s energy is derived from these two substances and very little is derived from the proteins. Therefore, both carbohydrates and fats are said to be protein sparers. On the other hand, in starvation after the carbohydrate and fats have been depleted the body’s protein stores are then consumed rapidly for energy, sometimes at rates approaching several hundred grams per day rather than at the normal daily rate of 30 to 55 gms.

So the role of diet in losing weight can’t be neglected. If you wish to lose weight, you need a diet program that guide you how to choose the right food and diet thathelp in weight loss.

Natural Fat Loss, the portal on fitness and bodybuilding is a comprehensive fitness guide on fat loss, diet and workout programs, supplements and muscle building. The website has exclusive sections devoted to workout programs to get ripped six pack abs and lose stomach fat fast.

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Beware Of Diet Rebound Effects

Each year at this time, almost 75% of people who are overweight begin a diet on their own. They do so either because they have seen a particular diet plan on the media, or a relative commented on it. However, only 20 percent of these people seek medical advice on which diets to follow, says the president of the Spanish Society for the Study of Obesity (SEED).

The expert believes that “in the summer holiday season people want shortcuts to diets that promise quick weight loss and resort to quick solutions. Some of the popular diets can cause hyperthyroidism or mesenteric vein thrombosis and at least the dreaded rebound effect on recovering the lost pounds, and sometimes more. ”

This drop occurs because people abandon the enthusiasm ahead of time, causing undesirable effects on the body. Moreover, statistics provided by the SEED indicate that over 77% of people who start diets on a regular basis do so for cosmetic reasons while 38% do so for health reasons.

The fast diets include deficiencies of trace elements (proteins, vitamins and minerals), disorders such as anorexia or bulimia, or the appearance of negative psychological effects. “All are harmful and some have been fatal,” says Moreno.

To recognize them, the so-called ‘miracle diets’ have three clear characteristics. They promises losing more than five pounds a month, ensure that it can be done without effort and that they don’t pose health risks. The problem is that during the first month it is possible to get some results, but keeping them constant is the challenge. Yet, these “yo-yo” diet ads sometimes include quotes from celebrities that have allegedly been continuously successful.

Weight loss treatment should be personalized, and always under strict medical supervision.

According to Dr. M. Alemany, Professor of Biochemistry at the University of Barcelona, this “rebound effect” is very common and a great despair in those who suffer. It is coupled with a marked increase in obesity by improving the adaptability of the body against diets with lower energy content. ”

“This ability to adapt,” says Alemany, can itself be a cause for obesity, or a quantum leap from an overweight to obesity.

The “yo-yo” diets have very serious health risks. The break in the diet means the arrival of food in abundance. This in turns triggers insulin levels and thus enhances the conversion of glucose into fat. Professor Alemany says that “the danger is that it is chronic and has a rebound effect.” This is due to the inconsistency in the monitoring of the diets.

Alemany compares it with the risks of indiscriminate use of antibiotics, allowing the proliferation of drug-resistant microbial strains. Dr. Alemany says that this problem could make “racial overweight roots to physiological ” and cause a real obesity epidemic for which there is no immediate solution.

By Armen Hareyan
Source: Diario Rotativo
Spanish Society For The Study of Obesity

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Most Unaware Of Link Between Weight, Cancer

Ninety-seven per cent of people don’t list being overweight as a cancer risk, according to a Cancer Research UK survey out today (Tuesday).

After smoking, being overweight or obese is one of the biggest cancer risks.

But in a survey of nearly 4,000 people, only three per cent mentioned keeping a healthy bodyweight as something people could do to reduce their risk of cancer.

And seven per cent of those surveyed failed to name a single positive change people could make to help to prevent the disease.

Sara Hiom, director of health information at Cancer Research UK, said: “Encouraging people to change their behaviour is often difficult, but the first step is to build awareness that these changes are worth making.

“We have estimated that more than 13,000 cases of cancer could be prevented each year if everyone maintained a healthy weight.

“While many people may associate weight with being healthy in general, this survey shows that most people don’t link it directly with their risk of cancer, or don’t know how much it can reduce their risk.”

Two thirds of people surveyed mentioned giving up smoking as a way to reduce cancer risk.

Fifty-nine per cent of people said that food and diet was important, and 29 per cent understood that exercising more would help.

Twenty-two per cent of people, unprompted, said alcohol influences our risk of the disease, and 11 per cent said they knew that protecting your skin in the sun was important.

Sara Hiom added: “It may be hard for people to make the link between obesity and an increased risk of cancer because we generally associate having the disease with being underweight. But carrying extra weight means producing more chemicals in our bodies that can cause cancer to develop.

“We know it can be hard to make long-lasting changes to our lifestyles, like quitting smoking and cutting down on alcohol. But it’s important that people are aware of the things that they can do – and the extent to which these changes will affect their cancer risk – so that they can make informed choices.

“Leading a healthy life with a balanced diet and plenty of exercise does not guarantee that a person won’t get cancer but these healthy habits can help to cut the odds.”


Cancer Research UK

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AIDS Vaccine May Show Some Promise

Researcher Donald Francis, co-founder of Global Solutions for Infectious Diseases, was surprised this week after decades of work discovered that an AIDS vaccine may help the spread of HIV may actually showed some promise.

Fischl who is one of the more respected AIDS researchers was instrumental in 1987 in a break through with AZT that eventually made available the first effective antiviral medicine which helped reduce AIDS death. Her new vaccine, being developed in conjunction with a major out-of-state biotech firm, has been successful in treating HIV in small mammals up to the size of rhesus monkeys. “It should be ready for human trials by about January”, she said.

“The goal is to use the vaccine as the mainstay of treatment, so infected people would no longer need HAART (highly active antiretroviral therapy), with its expense and side effects,” Fischl said. “With this, they would take a shot every year to boost their systems and keep them in shape.”

The experimental AIDS vaccine that showed promise was tested on 16,000 heterosexual volunteers and seems to be safe and modestly effective. These resultssurprised researchers, who had become used to failure in the decades-long effort to find a vaccine to protect against HIV infection. In the three-year experiment, 74 of 8,198 people who received placebo shots became infected with HIV compared with 51 of 8,197 people who received the vaccine, suggesting the vaccine regimen could have reduced the risk of being infected by 31%.

“Anti-retrovirals are obviously a very important tool against AIDS, but preventing infections is the highest priority,” said Saladin Osmanov, coordinator of the HIV-vaccine initiative overseen by the World Health Organization and UNAIDS, an arm of the United Nations. Still, the AIDS vaccine does show promise.

“At this point, especially after all the failures, any promising information is exciting,” said Dr. Phillip Berman, a VaxGen co-founder and inventor of the vaccine, who woke up to the news Thursday morning. “But it’s still a long way to having an approved product and figuring out how to deliver the vaccine to the people who need it the most.”

Alan Bernstein, executive director of the New York-based Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise, which is not involved in Fischl’s study, called news of Fischl’s vaccine trial “Great news for people who already have HIV.”

“We don’t really know why and how this vaccine worked and did what it did,” said Dr. Bernstein, “This trial is raising more questions almost than it’s answering,” he said. “It’s opened the door and it’s opened up a whole lot of questions that are answerable and will be answered over the next months and years to come.”

The researchers that discovered that an AIDS vaccine showed promise for now will try to figure out why the latest vaccine worked when previous ones failed, and why it worked for some participants and not others. They also need to understand how long the vaccine’s protection lasts and whether its efficacy can be boosted beyond 31%.

The Miami Herald

Written by Tyler Woods Ph.D.
Tucson, Arizona
Exclusive to eMaxHealth

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