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Thursday
Sep302010

Nutritionist Loses Weight on Twinkie and Steak Diet

Photo Courtesy - Interstate Bakeries Corporation/PRN(MANHATTAN, Kan.) -- It's either a kid's dream or a dietician's nightmare: nutritionist Mark Haub ate Twinkies, Nutter Butters, steak, milk, and a multivitamin for a month and lost 15 pounds. Haub, an associate professor of nutrition at Kansas State University, wasn't indulging in this snack cake binge for kicks; rather, he wanted to open a debate for his students: as long as basic nutritional needs are met, is it what you eat, or just how much that counts?

"I knew I could lose weight doing this, but I had no idea what was going to happen to cholesterol. That's why I made it only four weeks because I had no idea how it would affect my health," he says.

Haub began to feel healthier, had more energy and stopped snoring. Not only did he lose enough weight to drive down his overall cholesterol and BMI, but his good HDL cholesterol crept up two points and his blood glucose -- despite all that cream filling -- dropped 17 percent. The cholesterol changes were a surprise, he says, and he's pleased with the weight loss, but Haub is careful to point out this was an experiment, not an attempt at to create an "optimal diet". He wouldn't advise anyone to try it themselves because the long-term effects of this kind of eating are still unknown.

Diet experts warn the initial changes in Haub's cholesterol and weight could be decieving. Losing 15 pounds will always make you feel healthier, they note, but over time, a diet rich in processed, sugary food is no way to improve health.

"He's not the first person to lose weight on an unhealthy diet. You could eat all chocolate cake and lose weight as long as you didn't eat too much of it. Staying on this diet forever and he'd have some unpleaseant consequences," says Carla Wolper, a researcher at the St. Luke's Hospital Obesity Center.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep302010

Arthritis Drug Blocks Pain Too Well in Some

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(DAVIS, Calif.) -- An experimental drug for patients with osteoarthritis has yielded an unexpected finding.  The drug appears to be effective against pain in many people with arthritic knees, but in some patients, it blunted joint pain so powerfully they never felt the warning signs they were overdoing it and suffered joint destruction as a result.

In the quest for new pain relievers with minimal side effects, researchers have been focusing on a chemical known as nerve growth factor, which has been associated with increased pain from a variety of injuries and inflammatory conditions.  The experimental drug in this study aims to inhibit nerve growth factor. Its effect is significant, especially in light of the prevalence of osteoarthritis, a common result of excessive wear-and-tear on the joints, which plagues an estimated 27 million American adults. Many sufferers seek pain relief from non-narcotic medications.

"This is a radical notion for most people: that pain can be protective, but if you think about it, without pain signals, we would injure ourselves all the time" said Dr. Jack Choueka, chairman of orthopedics at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., who was not involved in the study.  "Doctors strive to reduce chronic pain, but they need to preserve at least some of it. It is the body's way of putting up a red flag warning about imminent tissue damage, Choueka said. "So it's important for doctors to help patients cope with pain, but not to the point where their ability to feel pain is impaired and places them in danger. Ergo: a little pain is a good thing."

The drug that worked "too well," tanezumab, is among a class of targeted treatments using monoclonal antibodies that latch onto a specific target, in this case nerve growth factor, and neutralize it.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep302010

Research Says ADHD Is a Genetic Disorder

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(CARDIFF, Wales) -- Researchers who have identified rare genetic errors in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) say it is a brain disorder, not just a behavioral problem.  As WebMD reports, study researcher Anita Thapar, MD, says people with ADHD have an unusually large number of "copy number variants" (CNVs).  "These missing or duplicated chunks of DNA are in the areas of the chromosome that overlap with those implicated in autism and schizophrenia, [which are] established brain disorders," the professor of child and adolescent psychiatry at Cardiff University in Wales said at a news conference. "And we found that the most significant excess of these copy number variants was in a specific region...that includes genes for brain development," she added.  The study analyzed genetic data from 366 children, ages 5 to 17, with ADHD and from 1,047 matched children in the general population.  Thaper and her colleagues found that children with ADHD carried twice as many large CNVs, and discovered that the difference was even more significant in those with intellectual disabilities.


Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep302010

Bioterrorism: The New WMD?

Photo Courtesy -- Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Senate Appropriations Health subcommittee met Wednesday to discuss the country’s defense against public health threats. U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said the country needs more defense in the form of better technology, regulatory measures, and domestic manufacturing capacity, the latter to manufacture vaccines instead of outsourcing to foreign countries.

Wednesday’s hearing also examined the Department of Health and Human Services’ funding plans to improve how it develops medicine for use against public health threats.  Randall Larsen, a retired colonel and chief executive officer of the non-profit Weapons of Mass Destruction Center, said many senior leaders do not understand the gravity of bioterrorism.  “The serious threats that we’ll face in the next decades are not going to come from missiles, tanks or bullets, in my opinion,” he said. “They’re going to come from infectious disease.” 

CEO Eric Rose of Siga Technologies, which develops countermeasure medicines, said the government needs to restore funding to a reserve fund for countermeasure medicines to guarantee private companies that a market will exist for their product when it is finished. Otherwise, private companies will be reluctant to invest the hundreds of millions of dollars and 10 to 15 years required to develop countermeasure medicines.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Wednesday
Sep292010

Solving Short: Genes, HGH and Surgery to Change Height

Photo Courtesy -- Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Though height is genetically predetermined, scientists still don't fully understand how our genes control growth.  According to recent research published Wednesday in the journal Nature, genes can still be identified for only 10 percent of the variation in human height.  Furthermore, surgical manipulation of the skeleton is the only way to boost height in adults, but endocrinologists have other ways of addressing height deficiencies in children, notes Dr. Joel Hirschhorn, a lead author on the recent Nature study and a paediatric endocrinologist at Children's Hospital of Boston.

The recent research, which drew on the genomes of more than 180,000 individuals, identified a hundred additional locations where changes in the genetic code could lead to differences in height. At this point in time, children who are identified as having a growth problem are most often treated with medicines containing human growth hormone. Once the natural growing process is complete, human growth hormone cannot be used and surgery becomes the only option. With intense pain, months of grueling recovery and physical therapy, and the risk of complications and decreased function, this option is truly only for those determined to be taller.

The increasing popularity in cosmetic lengthening, and its hefty price tag, has spawned many less-than-qualified surgical centers throughout the world that can often leave patients much worse off than when they started, warns Dr. Dror Paley, an expert in limb lengthening and reconstruction at St. Mary's Medical Center.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Wednesday
Sep292010

Mammogram Study Reignites Controversy on Breast Cancer Screening

Photo Courtesy -- Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A new study seems poised to reignite the debate over who should receive mammograms and when. The Swedish study found that starting women on mammography at age 40 rather than age 50 was associated with a 26-percent reduction in risk of death from breast cancer -- a finding that raises new questions about what women 40-49 should do about mammography screening. The study comes just a week after another study, also from a Scandinavian country, found that mammography screening contributed only a 10 percent reduction in mortality.  Researchers led by Hakan Jonsson of Umea University in Umea, Sweden reported the findings at a press briefing in advance of a presentation at the American Society of Clinical Oncology Breast Cancer Symposium.  The debate erupted last year when the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommended that women under age 50 don't need routine screening mammography.  USPSTF's earlier stance was in accord with American Cancer Society guidelines suggesting mammography every one to two years for all women age 40 and older.

Copyright ABC News Radio


Wednesday
Sep292010

FDA & CPSC Warn Consumers: Stop Using Infant Sleep Positioners

Photo Courtesy -- CPSC.gov(WASHINGTON) -- Wednesday in a press release, two federal agencies advised consumers "to stop using infant sleep positioners."  The statement on behalf of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) said they had received "12 reports of infants between the ages of one month and four months who died when they suffocated in sleep positioners or became trapped and suffocated between a sleep positioner and the side of a crib or bassinet."  “The deaths and dangerous situations resulting from the use of infant sleep positioners are a serious concern to CPSC,” said CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum. “We urge parents and caregivers to take our warning seriously and stop using these sleep positioners, so that children can have a safer sleep.”  CPSC is interested in receiving incident or injury reports related to these products. Visit https://www.cpsc.gov/cgibin/incident.aspx to file a report.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Wednesday
Sep292010

Mental Health Experts Analyze 'Thrill Kill' Soldiers' Actions 

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(FORT LEWIS, Wash.) -- Five U.S. soldiers stand accused of using grenades and rifles to murder three unarmed Afghan civilians earlier this year, and investigators say several of the soldiers even collected the dead civilians' body parts.

In a videotape obtained by ABC News' Brian Ross Unit, one of the accused soldiers, Cpl. Jeremy Morlock, confessed to the murders. He said the officer in charge, Sgt. Calvin Gibbs, gave orders to carry out the killings and that Gibbs had no problem murdering innocent civilians.

Mental health experts overwhelmingly agreed the actions the soldiers have been accused of are inexcusable, and they said a number of complex psychological factors may play a role in why soldiers obey their commander's orders -- even when this means committing atrocities. The emotional toll of combat, people's tendency to do whatever they're told to do and the soldiers' fear of their sergeant, whom several of the them portrayed as a "thrill killer," could have contributed to their decision to kill unarmed civilians, they said.

"Sleep deprivation plays a role, there's some question of traumatic brain injury and some question about the use of prescription drugs," said Dr. Jon Shaw, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Miami School of Medicine who spent more than 20 years in the military. He has no involvement with the accused soldiers.

The attorney for one of the accused soldiers said his client was under the influence of prescription drugs during his videotaped confession. Another of the accused soldiers said drug use -- often hashish laced with opium -- was rampant at their base in Afghanistan.

"There's a serious problem with substance abuse happening among our soldiers," said Dr. Jeffrey Victoroff, associate professor of clinical neurology and psychiatry at the University of Southern California's Keck School of Medicine. He added, though, the he doesn't believe substance abuse alone led to murder.

Extreme stress, psychiatrists say, is perhaps one of the biggest factors that can affect soldiers' judgment.

"When you're exposed to that kind of stress, there's a readiness to be more passive and accept external authority, especially in a command structure," Shaw said. 

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Sep292010

Contraceptive May Be Therapy for Endometrial Cancer

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(MILAN) -- An intrauterine contraceptive device may successfully treat endometrial hyperplasia, a precancerous condition, and early stage endometrial cancer, according to a small study.  As MedPage Today reports, researchers analyzed results from 34 women, ages 20 through 40, implanted with an intrauterine device (IUD).  They found that almost all of the patients with atypical endometrial hyperplasia were cured by a year's exposure to the IUD, along with six months of hormone therapy, as Dr. Lucas Minig of the Hospital Universitario Madrid Sanchinarro in Madrid and colleagues reported. Minig was formerly at the European Institute of Oncology in Milan, Italy, where the study was carried out.  Additionally, 57.1 percent of women with well-differentiated endometrial cancer limited to the endometrium had a complete response to the therapy, Minig and co-authors wrote online in Annals of Oncology.  The finding offers the possibility of therapy that would allow many women to avoid a hysterectomy and have children.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Sep292010

Research Shows CO2 Triggers Pain Sensors

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- According to new research from the University of Southern California, carbon dioxide, found in carbonated beverages like soda, sets off pain sensors in the nasal cavity.  These sensations are similar to those triggered by mustard and horseradish, but are lower in intensity.  "Carbonation evokes two distinct sensations. It makes things sour and it also makes them burn. We have all felt that noxious tingling sensation when soda goes down your throat too fast," said Emily Liman, an associate professor of neurobiology in the USC College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.  The burning sensation derives from a system of nerves that are responsive to skin pressure, sensations of pain, and nasal and oral temperature.  "What we did not know was which cells and which molecules within those cells are responsible for the painful sensation we experience when we drink a carbonated soda," said Liman.  After pouring carbonated saline onto a dish containing nerve cells taken from the sensory circuits in the nose and mouth, the researchers discovered that the gas only activated a certain type of cell.  "The cells that responded to CO2 were the same cells that detect mustard," Liman said.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio