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Monday
Nov012010

Cardiovascular Fitness Linked to Lower Risk of Death in Women, Researchers Say

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(INDIANAPOLIS) -- Researchers now say that cardiovascular fitness level, and "not just a woman's size," may be the "key predictor" in overall risk of death, according to a recent study published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.

Study results showed that, regardless of physical weight or size, death rates were significantly lower for fit women than for unfit women.  This proved to be true in cases where women only exhibited  "modest" levels of fitness, such as from brisk walking, compared to women who were unfit, suggesting that fitness is a stronger indicator than thinness for a long and healthy life.

"In other studies, failure to measure cardiorespiratory fitness levels may be due in part to an underlying assumption that all overweight individuals are unfit and at high risk for mortality," said Dr. Stephen W. Farrell, lead author for the study.  "This study makes clear that this assumption is not always valid."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Monday
Nov012010

Nurse Visits to Low-Income Mothers Improve Child Development, Study Shows

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(PHILADELPHIA) -- A program providing home visitation by nurses to low-income first-time mothers in the two years following the birth of their child is helping to reduce "rapid second pregnancies," according to a study by PolicyLab at The Philadelphia Children's Hospital. 

The study, which was published Monday in Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, reviewed clients living in 17 urban and six rural areas of Pennsylvania where the program was implemented between 2000 and 2007. 

The study showed no immediate effects in the program's early years, however, program participants whose first children were born after 2003 had fewer second pregnancies.  Study leaders said the reduction in rapid second pregnancies was "two-fold" in rural areas compared to urban locations.

"The continued effectiveness of the program following implementation was encouraging, but particularly striking were the strong effects among young rural mothers," said study leader David Rubin, M.D., M.S.C.E., a pediatric researcher at Children's Hospital.

The project, supported by a grant from Pennsylvania's Department of Public Welfare, paired nurses with low-income families "to improve the child's health and development" and lower the family's dependence on federal assistance programs such as welfare.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Monday
Nov012010

Bioartificial Livers Bring Researchers Closer to Solution for Organ Donor Shortages

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(BOSTON) -- Researchers say they are close to their goal of "creating completely bioartificial livers" by applying human liver cells to animal liver supporting structures -- or scaffolds, according to MedPage Today.

As the number of patients in need of organ transplants continues to grow, so does the problem of finding enough eligible organ donors.  At the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases meeting, Pedro Baptista of Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, NC said that recent statistics indicate that 109,000 people are waiting to receive organ transplants.  Of these patients, 16,000 are waiting to receive a liver.

During his talk, Baptista said that research has shown that "the cells really are able to recognize the native tissues and attach and engraft in those selected tissues."

The next step, he said, is to attempt to transplant the new organs back into the animals to observe and test function and survival.

Though Baptista hopes to oneday see "bioengineered livers that will be suitable for [human] transplant," he is not able now to forecast when these organs might become an available option to the general population.  However, he does predict that pig livers might make acceptable candidates for human transplants.

In the meantime, MedPage reports that newly engineered livers may be used for "drug discovery and development."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Monday
Nov012010

Infant Deaths, Injuries Associated with Nursery Products up Sharply

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Consumer Product Safety Commission says the number of infant deaths associated with nursery products is up sharply from last year, but adds annual injury estimates from such causes do not display a statistically significant trend over a five year period.

In 2009, there were more than 77,000 injuries among children under five warranting emergency room care, up more than 22 percent from the year before.  Infant carriers, car seat carriers, cribs and mattresses, strollers, carriages and high chairs are associated with nearly three quarters of the injuries, with falls the leading cause.

During the three-year-period from 2005 to 2007, the commission reports 265 deaths with 90 percent of those involving those same products. 

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Monday
Nov012010

Study Finds Alcohol to Be Deadliest Drug

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(LONDON) -- Alcohol is more harmful than illegal substances like heroin, cocaine, ecstasy and marijuana, according to a new study published in the British medical journal The Lancet.

After evaluating 20 drugs, weighing in on how addictive the drugs are, how they harm the human body both physically and mentally, and the societal impact they have, researchers found that alcohol was the most dangerous substance overall.

Using these criteria, researchers ranked the harmfulness of each drug, giving alcohol a score of 72 out of a possible 100.  Heroin and crack cocaine followed with a score of 55 and 54, respectively.

The study, funded by Britain's Centre for Crime and Justice Studies, found that heroin, crack cocaine and crystal meth are the most deadliest to individual users.  But when social effects are taken into consideration, alcohol proved to be the most harmful overall to both users and the public, followed by heroin and crack cocaine.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Oct302010

Wake Forest Researchers Engineer Miniature, Functional Livers

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WINSTON-SALEM, N.C.) -- Researchers at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine are at the cutting edge of bioengineering organ tissues.

In 2006, they implanted into human beings the first fully laboratory-engineered organ-bladder tissue.  Now researchers have for the first time successfully engineered miniature, functional livers from human liver cells.

Engineering organs is not new, and a liver has been “grown” before, but with animal, not human cells.  The researchers used an existing matrix of connective tissue and blood vessels onto which they “seeded” a mixture of cells including human liver precursor cells. These cells divided and grew around the existing matrix, and ultimately began to function like human liver cells.

The authors hope that this approach will be a step forward in liver bioengineering, and they plan to test if these livers can function after transplantation into an animal model. 

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Oct302010

Dad's Weight May Affect Fertility

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(DENVER) --  Among couples using assisted reproductive technology, a retrospective study reported on MedPage Today has shown an overweight male partner may reduce the chances of pregnancy.

Multiple factors were taken into account, such as the mother's body mass index.  Then, researchers found every 5-unit increase in the father's body mass index was associated with a 28 percent decrease in the chances of pregnancy. 

Dr. Zaher Merhi of Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Medical Center in New York City says there were no differences in the quality or concentration of sperm or day-three embryo quality between couples with an overweight male partner and those with a normal-weight male, some unknown factor must explain it.   Merhi was speaking before the American Society for Reproductive Medicine in Denver.

The relationship may involve a factor that cannot be seen with a microscope at the embryo stage.  It could be something like an increase in sperm DNA fragmentation, which has been demonstrated previously in obese men.

If further research confirms these findings, doctors may start counseling men as well as women about losing weight before undergoing in vitro fertilization.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Friday
Oct292010

HRT Linked to High Cancer Risk

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -– Mounting evidence suggests that hormone replacement therapy (HRT) in postmenopausal women may be linked to aggressive forms of breast cancer, according to results from an ongoing Women’s Health Initiative study.
 
The study shows that women who take a combination of estrogen and progestin therapy may even be at a higher risk of death from the disease.

Part of the ongoing study refers to women who have not had a hysterectomy and therefore are on a combination of estrogen and progestin (Prempro) and women with hysterectomies who were taking estrogen only in the form of Premarin.
 
Women taking estrogen only after their hysterectomy were not at an increased risk. This finding leads many physicians to suspect that it is primarily the daily use of the synthetic progestin in the Prempro combination that contributed to the breast cancer risk.
 
Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Friday
Oct292010

Staying Safe Amidst the Crazy Halloween Parties and Parades

Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Halloween is a time for children and adults alike to loosen up, show off creative costumes or other fantastical get-ups and indulge in treats that they hope will outnumber tricks.

Yet despite the carefree spirit of Halloween parties and parades, there are many ways to inadvertently end up injured, ailing or in distress while your friends are out howling at the moon. The candle conflagrations, the Halloween hit-and-runs, the greasepaint-triggered acne are all more common than the possibly apocryphal incidents of accepting apples or candy that some sadist has adulterated with razor blades.

Just in time for Halloween, several federal agencies and physicians' organizations have offered their recommendations for staying safe during the holiday once known as All Hallows' Eve.

The Food and Drug Administration compiled its "Lucky 13" tips for a safe Halloween.

The American Academy of Pediatrics pulled together advice about safe costumes and safe pumpkin carving.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology sounded yet another warning about using decorative non-prescription contact lenses.

Even those with food allergies can enjoy a safe holiday, said Dr. Clifford W. Bassett, an allergy specialist at NYU School of Medicine. He recommends shopping in advance for foods and snacks free of suspected allergens, bringing your own treats to parties or while trick-or-treating, keeping emergency medications such as epinephrine pens handy should an allergic reaction occur, and considering non-food items such as stickers and crayons instead of candies and foods whose mystery ingredients could prove hazardous.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Friday
Oct292010

Colorado Man Shoots Self in Sleep

Courtesy - Getty Images(BOULDER, Colo.) -- A Colorado man had a clear wakeup call early Tuesday morning. It wasn't an alarm. It was a gunshot.

After the blast, 63-year-old Sanford Rothman found he had shot himself in the knee while sleepwalking. According to The Daily Camera, Rothman told investigators he did not clearly remember the event.

Rothman was taken to the hospital, treated, and released.

Calls to Rothman were not immediately returned, but no illegal activity is said to have been involved in the incident -- a sign that Rothman might simply suffer from what is known among sleep experts as a parasomnia.

Parasomnias are disorders that interrupt sleep and often involve disruptive behaviors. Most of these conditions are fairly rare, but when they occur they can be startling to sufferers and their families. Worse, some people with parasomnias may even inadvertently place themselves or their loved ones in dangerous situations.

Sleep experts say these sleeping disorders can range from mild to severe.

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ABC News Radio