Thursday, September 24, 2009

Daily Aspirin Cuts Colon Cancer Risk in People Genetically Prone to the Disease

Colon cancer is one of the most common cancers in the United States, diagnosed in more than 130,000 new patients each year. For most people, the life-time risk for developing colon cancer is about six percent, but the risk is more pronounced for those with hereditary colon cancer syndromes. Patients who have inherited one of these syndromes have an extremely high risk for developing colon cancer, approaching 90 to 100 percent. However, European researchers say people with the most common of these syndromes, Lynch syndrome, could significantly reduce their chances of developing colon cancer by taking daily doses of an inexpensive over-the-counter drug that’s been around for better than a century and continues to be at the forefront of emerging science—aspirin.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Is Taking Antidepressants Safe During Pregnancy?

Women who are taking antidepressants are faced with a very difficult choice when they become pregnant, and for many of them the risks vs. benefits of continuing the treatment are not very clear, according to the findings in the joint report from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and American Psychiatric Association.

Gardasil is Now Recommended for Males to Fight Against HPV

Soon, boys may also be eligible to obtain the Gardasil vaccine, which is currently given to girls and young women to help prevent infection by four types of human papillomavirus. An advisory committee from the Food and Drug Administration voted Wednesday to recommend that the vaccine be made available to boys and young men between the ages of 9 and 26 to help protect against genital warts that are caused by HPV.

The Gardasil vaccine helps protect against four type of HPV, and two of those are believed to be responsible for approximately 70 percent of anal and cervical cancers, as well as HPV-associated penile and throat-and-neck cancers. Researchers say that the other two types cause approximately 90 percent of all cases of genital warts.

At Wednesday’s meeting for the advisory committee, pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co., maker of the Gardasil vaccine, presented data from three clinical trials that the company claims supports broadening the distribution of the vaccine to include boys and young men. The three trials included more than 5,400 boys and men that were from 23 countries and 6 continents.

According to Anna Giuilano, who is an independent scientist at Moffit Cancer Center located in Tampa, Florida, and the trials’ principal investigator, “The data clearly demonstrates that there was a benefit to men in receiving Gardasil. Overall, we saw a 90 percent reduction in disease—genital warts and pre-cancerous lesions—caused by HPV in men and an 89 percent reduction in genital warts incidence.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

National Suicide Prevention Week

Death, even when expected, is hard for anyone to deal with, but a suicidal death is often more difficult for friends, family, and loved ones to fathom. Oftentimes there are warning signs, in the form of depression or a mental illness, and other times suicide seems to strike seemingly out of nowhere. Regardless of the motivation behind it, suicide is the most extreme case of self harm and for those who are contemplating such an act, or for those left behind, there are numerous resources available 24/7 to turn to. And to promote those services and provide awareness to the nation, today begins National Suicide Prevention Week, marking the days leading up to and after National Suicide Prevention Day on Thursday September 10, 2009.

This year is the 35th annual National Suicide Prevention Week with the theme: A Global Agenda on the Science of Prevention, Treatment, and Recovery. Starting Sunday September 6th, communities across the United States are banding together to host events to spread awareness.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Mediterranean Diet Could Eliminate Prescriptions for New Type II Diabetics

A simple change in diet could mean the elimination of medications for Type II diabetics. When comparing the effects of two special diets for Type II diabetics, each combined with exercise, the Mediterranean low-carbohydrate diet came out on top, ahead of the low-fat diet. The Mediterranean diet illustrated that with a good diet and exercise program, many Type II diabetics may be able to avoid any type of medication.

Newly diagnosed cases of Type II diabetes may benefit from the Mediterranean diet and help to delay or eliminate the need for prescribed medication. While a lifestyle change, along with diet and exercise is necessary for all diabetics, not all adopt a good regimen. With the newly released study, we may have new support for a stricter diet combined with exercise. A stricter regimen may help to avoid taking unwanted medication while cutting some expense from a diabetic’s budget

During the team’s research, they not only realized that the low-carb diet was better for new suffering Type II diabetics, but the diet had several other positive effects. There were 215 overweight newly diagnosed Type II diabetics who were involved in the four year Italian study that compared the low-carbohydrate Mediterranean diet and the American Heart Association low fat diet. The participants were divided into two groups. One group was instructed to eat a diet low in fat and the other was instructed to eat a diet low in carbohydrates, in combination with regular exercise. The study was the longest so far to tackle the comparison of the two specific style diets and their effects on Type II diabetic’s treatment.

Do Retail Medical Centers Provide Quality Care?

Since the first one opened in 2000, retail medical clinics, such as those set up in grocery stores and pharmacies, have become increasingly widespread. There are currently about 1,200 of these in-store clinics in the United States, and more than 6,000 are expected to open across the country within five years. Typically staffed by nurse practitioners, these clinics offer care for minor illnesses, including coughs, body aches, and itchy eyes; perform routine exams, like college and camp physicals, and vaccinations; as well as providing diabetes and cholesterol screening. No appointment is required, there is little to no wait time and the clinics have convenient evening and weekend hours.

Retail clinics have already served more than 3.5 million patients, according to industry group Convenient Care Association, and surveys of patients who received care at them have been positive, but some doctors groups, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics, have expressed concerns that the clinics provide a lower quality of care than traditional medical facilities, have greater rates of misdiagnosis, and over-prescribe antibiotics.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

U.S. Life Expectancy Hits All-Time High—Deaths All-Time Low

Americans may not be living as long as the Japanese, whose estimated life span is 83 years, but we are gaining ground. According to a new report by CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, average life expectancy in the U.S. hit a record high of 77.9 years in 2007, the latest year that data from death certificates has been compiled. Both men and women set new records, with life expectancy now 75.3 years for men and 80.4 years for women. And, for the first time, life expectancy for black males reached 70 years.

The increase in mortality can be attributed to a drop in death rates. The number of deaths in the U.S. in 2007 was 2,423,995, a 2,269 decrease from 2006. And the overall death rate fell to a record low of 760 deaths per 100,000 people, 2.1 percent lower than the 2006 rate of 776.5. This marks the eighth consecutive year the mortality rate has fallen, and is half of what it was 60 years ago (1532.0 in 1947).

Obesity Ages the Brain and Reduces Life Span

Overall, about two-thirds of adults in the U.S. are either overweight or obese and about 6 percent are extremely obese, putting them at an increased risk for diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, osteoarthritis, stroke, gallbladder disease, sleep apnea, respiratory problems and even certain cancers. Researchers have also discovered that obesity increases the risk for dementia, and a new study detailed in the online edition of the journal Human Brain Mapping may help to explain why.

When researchers at UCLA and the University of Pittsburgh scanned the brains of 94 people in the 70s, they found that the obese individuals had 8 percent less brain tissue than their normal-weight peers, and their brains looked 16 years older than the brains of lean people—evidence of “severe brain degeneration,” according to study author Paul Thompson, a UCLA professor of neurology. Those classified as overweight had 4 percent less brain tissue and their brains appeared to have aged prematurely by eight years.

More Americans Concerned About Risk of H1N1 Flu

Americans appear to be taking the H1N1 flu more seriously than they did in the spring when the virus began causing widespread illness. The latest poll by USA Today shows that of the 1,007 adults surveyed, one in three believe they or a family member will probably contract H1N1, up from one in five in May. Sixty-one percent now accept the government’s assessment of the novel flu’s risks, up 5 percent since May, and the majority of people, 55 percent, say for the first time they will get vaccinated, up 9 percent.

Seventeen percent say they worried yesterday that they would get flu, up from 8 percent in June. “I’m not surprised to see that worry is increasing,” says Kristine Sheedy, who heads the H1N1 vaccine communication task force for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “When your kids go back to school, you naturally think more about the possibility that they’ll get sick.”

However, despite the increasing concern, the poll showed that 62 percent of people believe it’s unlikely that they or a family member will get sick. Sheedy says that may be the result of a misperception of the number of people who are susceptible to flu. “People recognize that influenza’s out there and that it can be severe, but they say, ‘I’m not personally worried,’” Sheedy says. “That’s one of the big challenges we face. Take seasonal influenza—when we add up the high-risk groups and their close contacts, that’s the majority of the population.”