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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

ScienceDaily: Top Health News

ScienceDaily: Top Health News

New study examines effect of timing of folic acid supplementation during pregnancy

Posted: 25 Nov 2014 05:58 PM PST

Taking folic acid before conception significantly reduces the risk of small for gestational age at birth, suggests a new study. Folic acid supplementation has already been shown to reduce the risk of neural tube defects, such as spina bifida, and it is recommended for women to start folic acid supplementation pre-conceptually. However, uptake is low, state the authors, and previous studies have suggested rates of pre-conceptual uptake to be between 14.8% and 31%, with lower uptake in younger age groups and ethnic minorities.

Overweight, obesity linked to nearly 500,000 new cancers in 2012 worldwide

Posted: 25 Nov 2014 05:57 PM PST

Researchers estimate that a quarter of all obesity-related cancers in 2012 were attributable to the rising average body mass index (BMI) in the population since 1982, and were therefore "realistically avoidable". 

Wide gulf in cancer survival between countries, most comprehensive global study to date shows

Posted: 25 Nov 2014 05:57 PM PST

Five-year survival estimates have been published for 25.7 million cancer patients diagnosed with one of 10 common cancers and 75,000 children diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia between 1995 and 2009, using individual patient data from 279 cancer registries in 67 countries.

‘Utter neglect’ of rheumatic heart disease revealed by results from global study

Posted: 25 Nov 2014 05:57 PM PST

Rheumatic heart disease – the most common acquired heart disease in children in many countries of the world – is being neglected and poorly treated, according to new findings.

Protein Elevated in Blood Predicts Post-Concussion Symptom Severity in Professional Athletes

Posted: 25 Nov 2014 03:03 PM PST

Elevated levels in the blood of the brain-enriched protein calpain-cleaved ±II-spectrin N-terminal fragment, known as SNTF, shortly after sports-related concussion can predict the severity of post-concussion symptoms in professional athletes, new research has found.

Entrepreneurs to venture capitalists: Don’t be a Scrooge

Posted: 25 Nov 2014 12:39 PM PST

A recently published study of more than 550 decisions and responses from 144 experienced entrepreneurs reveals that "knowledge of explicit ethical or unethical behavior (by venture capitalists) profoundly shapes the entrepreneurs' willingness to partner."

Mere expectation of treatment can improve brain activity in Parkinson's patients

Posted: 25 Nov 2014 11:08 AM PST

Learning-related brain activity in Parkinson's patients improves as much in response to a placebo treatment as to real medication, according to a new study. "The findings highlight the power of expectations to drive changes in the brain," said a co-author of the study. "The research highlights important links between psychology and medicine."

Obstructive sleep apnea treatments may reduce depressive symptoms

Posted: 25 Nov 2014 11:08 AM PST

Treatment for obstructive sleep apnea with continuous positive airway pressure or mandibular advancement devices can lead to modest improvements in depressive symptoms, according to a study.

Link between DNA transcription, disease-causing expansions

Posted: 25 Nov 2014 10:19 AM PST

Researchers in human genetics have known that long nucleotide repeats in DNA lead to instability of the genome and ultimately to human hereditary diseases such Freidreich's ataxia and Huntington's disease. Scientists have believed that the lengthening of those repeats occur during DNA replication when cells divide or when the cellular DNA repair machinery gets activated. Recently, however, it became apparent that yet another process called transcription, which is copying the information from DNA into RNA, could also been involved.

Long-term testosterone therapy does not increase risk of prostate cancer

Posted: 25 Nov 2014 09:49 AM PST

Testosterone (T) therapy is routinely used in men with hypogonadism, a condition in which diminished function of the gonads occurs. Although there is no evidence that T therapy increases the risk of prostate cancer (PCa), there are still concerns and a paucity of long-term data. In a new study, investigators examined three parallel, prospective, ongoing, cumulative registry studies of over 1,000 men. Their analysis showed that long-term T therapy in hypogonadal men is safe and does not increase the risk of PCa.

Vegetable oil ingredient key to destroying gastric disease bacteria

Posted: 25 Nov 2014 09:48 AM PST

The bacterium Helicobacter pylori is strongly associated with gastric ulcers and cancer. To combat the infection, researchers developed LipoLLA, a therapeutic nanoparticle that contains linolenic acid, a component in vegetable oils. In mice, LipoLLA was safe and more effective against H. pylori infection than standard antibiotic treatments.

Athletes' testosterone surges not tied to winning, study finds

Posted: 25 Nov 2014 08:18 AM PST

A higher surge of testosterone in competition, the so-called 'winner effect,' is not actually related to winning, suggests a new study of intercollegiate cross country runners.

Pathology specialist contributes to debate on breast cancer gene screening

Posted: 25 Nov 2014 08:18 AM PST

What are the risks and benefits of screening for BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations in the general adult population? An expert has published an invited commentary on this issue.

E-health records used to search for hidden drug benefits

Posted: 25 Nov 2014 08:18 AM PST

With research and development costs for many drugs reaching well into the billions, pharmaceutical companies want more than ever to determine whether their drugs already at market have any hidden therapeutic benefits that could warrant putting additional indications on the label and increase production.

Superbug in SE Michigan shows recent decline

Posted: 25 Nov 2014 08:18 AM PST

A new study finds a decrease in an emergent strain of methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) that is resistant to last line defense antibiotics. Researchers examined the prevalence of vancomycin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (VRSA) infections in southeastern Michigan, where the majority of these infections have occurred in the US.

Trojan horse tactic gives parasites edge over immune systems

Posted: 25 Nov 2014 08:18 AM PST

Parasites use Trojan horse subterfuge to suppress the immunity of their victims when causing infection, according to a study. Scientists have shown that parasites are able to secrete tiny sealed packages of genetic material into the cells of their victims, in order to suppress the immune response to infection.

Patients at emergency departments regarded as 'symptoms,' researcher says

Posted: 25 Nov 2014 08:15 AM PST

The healthcare work of providing care at Emergency departments is medicalized and result-driven. As a consequence of this, patients are regarded as "symptoms", and are shunted around the department as "production units", new research suggests.

A 'hybrid vehicle' that delivers DNA

Posted: 25 Nov 2014 08:15 AM PST

A new hybrid vehicle is under development. Its performance isn't measured by the distance it travels, but rather the delivery of its cargo: vaccines that contain genetically engineered DNA to fight HIV, cancer, influenza and other maladies. The technology is a biomedical advancement that could help unleash the potential of DNA vaccines, which despite two decades of research, have yet to make a significant impact in the treatment of major illnesses.

Pain and itch in a dish: Scientists convert human skin cells into sensory neurons

Posted: 25 Nov 2014 07:43 AM PST

Scientists have found a simple method to convert human skin cells into the specialized neurons that detect pain, itch, touch and other bodily sensations. These neurons are also affected by spinal cord injury and involved in Friedreich's ataxia, a devastating and currently incurable neurodegenerative disease that largely strikes children.

Feeling -- not being -- wealthy drives opposition to wealth redistribution

Posted: 25 Nov 2014 07:21 AM PST

People's views on income inequality and wealth distribution may have little to do with how much money they have in the bank and a lot to do with how wealthy they feel in comparison to their friends and neighbors, according to new findings.

Study maps how city neighborhoods affect diabetes risk

Posted: 25 Nov 2014 07:21 AM PST

Public health researchers in Philadelphia looked at how neighborhood and community-level factors -- not just individual factors like diet, exercise and education -- influence people's diabetes risk. Their new study adds insight into the role of the physical and social environment on diabetes risk, zip code by zip code throughout the city.

Barriers to public health data-sharing; life-saving solutions

Posted: 25 Nov 2014 07:21 AM PST

Barriers to the sharing of public health data hamper decision-making efforts on local, national and global levels, and stymie attempts to contain emerging global health threats, an international team of researchers has announced.

Few operations for epilepsy despite safety, efficacy

Posted: 25 Nov 2014 07:19 AM PST

Epilepsy surgery is a safe, effective and low-risk procedure, research shows. Nevertheless, few Swedes have the operation, and those who are interested may have to wait a long time for presurgical counseling.

Calcium-induced conformational changes of the regulatory domain of human mitochondrial aspartate/glutamate carriers

Posted: 25 Nov 2014 07:19 AM PST

Structures of human mitochondrial aspartate/glutamate carrier regulatory domains reveal the nature of calcium-dependent conformational changes.

Missing gene linked to autism

Posted: 25 Nov 2014 07:19 AM PST

Researchers have shed light on a gene mutation linked to autistic traits. The team already knew that some people with autism were deficient in a gene called neurexin-II. To investigate whether the gene was associated with autism symptoms, the Leeds team studied mice with the same defect. They found behavioral features that were similar to autism symptoms, including a lack of sociability or interest in other mice.

Gene linked to tamoxifen-resistant breast cancers

Posted: 25 Nov 2014 07:17 AM PST

After mining the genetic records of thousands of breast cancer patients, researchers have identified a gene whose presence may explain why some breast cancers are resistant to tamoxifen, a widely used hormone treatment generally used after surgery, radiation and other chemotherapy.

Alzheimer's in a dish model converts skin cells to induced neurons expressing amyloid-beta and tau

Posted: 25 Nov 2014 07:17 AM PST

The search for a living laboratory model of Alzheimer's disease (AD) — the so-called "Alzheimer's in a dish" —has a new candidate. Researchers report success in creating induced neurons that model Alzheimer's by starting with fibroblasts taken from skin biopsies.

How environment contributes to several human diseases

Posted: 25 Nov 2014 07:17 AM PST

Using a new imaging technique, researchers have found that the biological machinery that builds DNA can insert molecules into the DNA strand that are damaged as a result of environmental exposures. These damaged molecules trigger cell death that produces some human diseases, according to the researchers. The work provides a possible explanation for how one type of DNA damage may lead to cancer, diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular and lung disease, and Alzheimer's disease.

Researchers identify genetic markers that may predispose individuals for kidney injury

Posted: 25 Nov 2014 07:17 AM PST

Researchers have identified genetic markers that may help to identify individuals at risk for acute kidney injury (AKI) in the hospital setting. The study offers new clues about the development of AKI and could lead to potential therapeutic interventions.

One-two punch of drugs better than either alone against colorectal cancer

Posted: 25 Nov 2014 06:11 AM PST

Experimental anti-cancer agents PF-04691502 and PD-0325901 excel in lab tests against colorectal cancer models and enter phase 1 trial, scientists report. "This study demonstrates strong potential for this combination in treating laboratory models of colorectal cancer. We hope that if we can discover biomarkers that predict which tumors respond and which don't respond to the combination that we can optimize its use," one researcher says.

Sialic acid shields human cells from attack by immune system

Posted: 25 Nov 2014 06:11 AM PST

Biochemists have identified molecular structures that allow the immune system to tell friend from foe. The researchers identified and crystallized a complex that forms the contact point between the healthy human cell and the complement system. Using nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy and X-ray structure analysis, they were able to solve the molecular structure of the complex. It is composed of a glycan containing sialic acid and two domains of the complement system regulator, factor H.

Does a yogurt a day keep diabetes away?

Posted: 25 Nov 2014 04:48 AM PST

A high intake of yogurt has been found to be associated with a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes, according to research. This highlights the importance of having yogurt as part of a healthy diet.

El Niño stunts children's growth in Peru

Posted: 25 Nov 2014 04:48 AM PST

Extreme weather events, such as El Niño, can have long-lasting effects on health, according to research. The study, in coastal Peru, shows that children born during and after the 1997-98 El Niño have a lower height-for-age than others born before the event.

P2X3 inhibitor shows 75 percent reduction in chronic cough frequency

Posted: 25 Nov 2014 04:48 AM PST

Results from a Phase 2 clinical trial have been published, demonstrating that a drug candidate -- AF-219 -- reduced daytime cough frequency by 75 percent compared to placebo in patients with treatment-refractory chronic cough. AF-219 is a selective, non-narcotic, orally administered P2X3 receptor antagonist targeting the mechanism by which certain nerve fibers become hyper-sensitized.

Scientists could save thousands with student's DIY microscope

Posted: 25 Nov 2014 04:48 AM PST

Expensive tests for measuring everything from sperm motility to cancer diagnosis have just been made hundreds of thousands of dollars cheaper by a Ph.D. student from England who hacked his own microscope.

Why cancer cells grow despite a lack of oxygen

Posted: 25 Nov 2014 04:48 AM PST

Healthy cells reduce their growth when there is a lack of oxygen (hypoxia). This makes it even more surprising that hypoxia is a characteristic feature of malignant tumors. In two publications, researchers report on how cancer cells succeed at circumventing the genetic program of growth inhibition.

Asymptomatic atherosclerosis linked to cognitive impairment

Posted: 25 Nov 2014 04:48 AM PST

In a study of nearly 2,000 adults, researchers found that a buildup of plaque in the body's major arteries was associated with mild cognitive impairment. Atherosclerosis is a condition in which fat, cholesterol and other substances collect in the arteries, forming a substance called plaque that can build up, limiting blood flow. It can occur in any artery of the body, including the carotid, which supplies blood to the brain, coronary arteries and the aorta, which carries oxygenated blood from the heart through the abdomen to the rest of body.

New device may ease mammography discomfort

Posted: 25 Nov 2014 04:48 AM PST

A new device that may result in more comfortable mammography for women has been created by researchers. According to a new study, standardizing the pressure applied in mammography would reduce pain associated with breast compression without sacrificing image quality.

Homosexuality may help us bond, experts say

Posted: 25 Nov 2014 04:47 AM PST

Homosexual behavior may have evolved to promote social bonding in humans, according to new research. Researchers found that heterosexual women who have higher levels of progesterone are more likely to be open to the idea of engaging in sexual behaviour with other women. Similarly, when heterosexual men are subtly reminded of the importance of having male friends and allies, they report more positive attitudes toward engaging in sexual behaviour with other men. This pattern is particularly dramatic in men who have high levels of progesterone.

Gene discovered that reduces risk of stroke

Posted: 25 Nov 2014 04:47 AM PST

A gene that protects people against one of the major causes of stroke in young and middle-aged adults has been discovered, and researchers say that it could hold the key to new treatments.

Problem gambling, personality disorders often go hand in hand

Posted: 25 Nov 2014 04:47 AM PST

The treatment of people who cannot keep their gambling habits in check is often complicated because they also tend to suffer from personality disorders. Problem gambling creates a multitude of intrapersonal, interpersonal and social difficulties for the roughly 2.3 percent of the population internationally that suffers from this behavior.

New ways to drain cancer's 'fuel tank' discovered

Posted: 25 Nov 2014 04:47 AM PST

A potential weakness in cancer's ability to return or become resistant to treatment has been discovered, targeting the 'fuel' part of stem cells which allows tumors to grow. By observing cancer stem cells in a lab setting, researchers discovered that mitochondria are especially important for the proliferative expansion and survival of cancer stem cells, also known as 'tumor initiating cells', which would then promote treatment resistance.

Better assessment of decision-making capacity

Posted: 25 Nov 2014 04:47 AM PST

Physicians often find it hard to tell if a patient suffering from dementia or depression is capable of making sound judgements. Through a new study, researchers now aim to shed more light on this issue, developing a better way to assess a patient's decision-making capacity.

Proton pump inhibitors decrease diversity in gut microbiome, increase risk for complications

Posted: 25 Nov 2014 04:46 AM PST

People who regularly take proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) have less diversity among their gut bacteria, putting them at increased risk for infections like clostridium difficile and pneumonia, in addition to vitamin deficiencies and bone fractures, a new study has shown.

Schistosomas: Tropical parasite uses swim stroke not shared by any other creature

Posted: 25 Nov 2014 04:46 AM PST

For many bacteria and parasites looking to get a load of the fresh nutritional bounty inside your body, the skin is the first and most important gatekeeper. Schistosomas, however, and burrow right on through. These waterborne blood flukes, responsible for 200 million total worldwide cases of Schistosomiasis, are driven by the powerful thrusts of their unique forked tails and chewing enzymes. The parasite's swimming patterns are crucial for its human-seeking chemotactic activity - and are the focus of researchers who ultimately seek to break the chain of infection.

'Dramatic' early phase 1 results for AG-120 in IDH1 mutated AML

Posted: 24 Nov 2014 03:00 PM PST

A new study shows "extremely promising" early phase 1 clinical trial results for the investigational drug AG-120 against the subset of patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) harboring mutations in the gene IDH.

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