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Tuesday, January 6, 2015

ScienceDaily: Top Health News

ScienceDaily: Top Health News

Humans, sparrows make sense of sounds in similar ways: Complex set of cognitive skills

Posted: 05 Jan 2015 02:00 PM PST

The song of the swamp sparrow -- a grey-breasted bird found in wetlands throughout much of North America -- is a simple melodious trill. But according to a new study swamp sparrows are capable of processing the notes that make up their simple songs in more sophisticated ways than previously realized -- an ability that may help researchers better understand the perceptual building blocks that enable language in humans.

Cold virus replicates better at cooler temperatures

Posted: 05 Jan 2015 02:00 PM PST

The common cold virus can reproduce itself more efficiently in the cooler temperatures found inside the nose than at core body temperature, according to a new study. This finding may confirm the popular yet contested notion that people are more likely to catch a cold in cool-weather conditions.

Pioneering method developed to define stages of stem cell reprogramming

Posted: 05 Jan 2015 11:21 AM PST

A method that defines many stages of reprogramming skin or blood cells into pluripotent stem cells has been developed for the first time by scientists. The study analyzed the reprogramming process at the single-cell level on a daily basis. Results determined that stages of cell change were the same across different reprogramming systems and cell types analyzed.

Anesthesiologists face the Ebola epidemic: Time to 'educate, train and prepare'

Posted: 05 Jan 2015 11:21 AM PST

Because of their responsibility for performing airway intubation and other invasive procedures, anesthesiologists will play an essential role in managing patients with Ebola virus infection. Scientific evidence guiding the anesthetic management of Ebola virus disease (EVD) is analyzed in a new article.

The biology of fun and playfulness

Posted: 05 Jan 2015 11:16 AM PST

Several new articles explore the biology of fun (and the fun of biology). Scientists present what we know about playfulness in dogs, dolphins, frogs, and octopuses. They also provide insights on whether birds can have fun and how experiences in infancy affect a person's unique sense of humor.

Hold your breath to protect your heart

Posted: 05 Jan 2015 09:59 AM PST

A simple technique may be most effective in preventing heart disease after radiation therapy for breast cancer. New research shows a woman who holds her breath during radiation pulses can greatly reduce radiation exposure to the heart.

'Glowing' new nanotechnology guides cancer surgery, also kills remaining malignant cells

Posted: 05 Jan 2015 09:59 AM PST

A new way to selectively insert compounds into cancer cells has been developed by scientists -- a system that will help surgeons identify malignant tissues and then, in combination with phototherapy, kill any remaining cancer cells after a tumor is removed. Ultimately, it could make cancer surgery far more effective.

Exposure to cold reveals 'switch' that controls formation of brown, white fat

Posted: 05 Jan 2015 09:59 AM PST

The roles that white fat and brown fat play in metabolism is well documented, but new research presents a new wrinkle: each type of fat may change into the other, depending on the temperature. In particular, cold temperatures may encourage 'unhealthy' white fat to change into 'healthy' brown fat.

Infection control preparedness measures control avian flu in Hong Kong hospital

Posted: 05 Jan 2015 09:58 AM PST

A proactive infection prevention plan implemented widely in a Hong Kong health-care system was a significant factor preventing the spread of influenza strain A H7N9, otherwise known as avian flu, experts report.

Melanoma: Scientists find new link between pigment production, mitochondrial function

Posted: 05 Jan 2015 09:58 AM PST

New research helps explain what goes wrong to when someone gets skin cancer and the relationship between changing skin pigment and the cancer itself. In particular, this research shows that there is a direct link between changes in mitochondrial function and melanin production in cancerous skin cells. This link may also serve as a viable drug target for the disease.

Animal study points to a treatment for Huntington's disease

Posted: 05 Jan 2015 09:58 AM PST

By adjusting the levels of a key signaling protein, researchers improved motor function and brain abnormalities in experimental animals with a form of Huntington's disease, a severe neurodegenerative disorder. The new findings may lay the groundwork for a novel treatment for people with this fatal, progressive disease, researchers say.

Ouch! When teeth and hands connect, bites may be beastly

Posted: 05 Jan 2015 09:58 AM PST

Hand injuries are frequently caused by human and animal bites, prompting as many as 330,000 emergency department visits in the United States each year. A literature review outlines the potential complications of human and animal bites to the hand, the importance of early injury assessment, and the use of antibiotic and other treatment methods to avoid infection, permanent disability, and amputation.

Criminal behavior in patients with neurodegenerative diseases studied

Posted: 05 Jan 2015 09:58 AM PST

Criminal behavior can occur in patients with some neurodegenerative diseases, although patients with Alzheimer's disease were among the least likely to commit crimes, according to a study.

New technology to detect lingering cancer cells during breast surgery

Posted: 05 Jan 2015 08:27 AM PST

Some patients undergoing lumpectomy surgery for the removal of an early detected breast tumor – the surgical option of choice for this diagnosis -- are benefiting from new intra-operative technology that detects microscopic amounts of cancer cells on removed tumor tissue not visible during or following surgical intervention.

Overly conservative FDA label likely prevents use of metformin in many type 2 diabetics, experts say

Posted: 05 Jan 2015 08:27 AM PST

Many patients with type 2 diabetes in the United States may be discouraged from taking metformin--a proven, oral diabetes medicine--because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration inappropriately labels the drug unsafe for some patients also suffering from kidney problems, researchers report.

'Imaginary meal' tricks body into losing weight

Posted: 05 Jan 2015 08:27 AM PST

A more effective diet pill has been developed by scientists. Unlike most diet pills on the market, this new pill, called fexaramine, doesn't dissolve into the blood like appetite suppressants or caffeine-based diet drugs, but remains in the intestines, causing fewer side effects, like an "imaginary meal," the researchers explain.

Epigenomics analysis reveals surprising new clues to insulin resistance

Posted: 05 Jan 2015 08:25 AM PST

In studying the cellular structure and function of insulin, a research team has uncovered previously unknown steps in the development of insulin resistance. Previous investigations of insulin resistance have focused almost exclusively on proteins and cellular functions at or near the surface of cells, where insulin binds. However, epidemiological and molecular data have suggested that events leading to insulin resistance might also take place in the nucleus, where the DNA blueprint is stored.

Human enzyme (CD 39) targets Achilles heel of sepsis

Posted: 05 Jan 2015 08:25 AM PST

Scientists use mice to show that a human membrane-bound enzyme called CD39, which can clear the dangerous buildup of adenosine triphosphate from the bloodstream, significantly improves survival of mice in sepsis. "Finding a more effective treatment for sepsis would be a major step forward," said one researcher, "since far too many people still die from overwhelming microbial infection. If CD 39 proves to be as critical a factor in humans as in mice, this is a major discovery."

Certain T-cells may play a role in insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes

Posted: 05 Jan 2015 08:25 AM PST

New research in mice suggests that an unusual type of immune cell may be a new drug and research target for treating or preventing type 2 diabetes caused by obesity. The research report suggests that certain T-cells are necessary for obesity-induced accumulation of macrophages, which are associated with promoting inflammation in fat tissue.

Byproducts from bacteria awaken dormant T-cells, HIV viruses

Posted: 05 Jan 2015 08:25 AM PST

Dental and medical researchers have discovered that byproducts of bacteria in gum disease, called metabolic small chain fatty acid, can work together to wake up HIV in dormant T-cells and cause the virus to replicate. Their findings help explain why people with the HIV -infections and periodontal disease have higher levels of the virus in their saliva than HIV patients with healthy gums.

Disparities seen in immigrant application results

Posted: 05 Jan 2015 08:24 AM PST

Immigrants to the US with job offers often apply for work authorization. But immigrants from Latin America are less likely to have those requests granted than are immigrants from other regions, according to a new study that also suggests a potential remedy for this problem, by finding that this regional disparity does not exist when officials examine cases in greater detail.

Blood test for prostate cancer investigated

Posted: 05 Jan 2015 08:24 AM PST

A method for detecting 'cell-free' tumor DNA in the bloodstream has been developed by scientists who believe that the technique will be transformative in providing improved cancer diagnostics that can both predict treatment outcomes and monitor patient responses to therapy.

Cancer prevention guidelines may lower risk of obesity-linked cancers

Posted: 05 Jan 2015 08:24 AM PST

Low alcohol consumption and a plant-based diet, both healthy habits aligning with current cancer prevention guidelines, are associated with reducing the risk of obesity-related cancers, a study shows. "Our research aims to clarify associations between diet and physical activity in relation to cancer to encourage at-risk individuals to make lifestyle modifications that may reduce their risk of certain cancers," said the study's lead author.

Genetic factors contribute to insomnia in children, teens, twin study suggests

Posted: 05 Jan 2015 08:24 AM PST

Insomnia in childhood and adolescence is partially explained by genetic factors, a new study of twins suggests. "Insomnia in youth is moderately related to genetic factors, but the specific genetic factors may change with age," said a study author. "We were most surprised by the fact that the genetic factors were not stable over time, so the influence of genes depends on the developmental stage of the child."

Chronic high blood pressure increases risk of glaucoma, study shows

Posted: 05 Jan 2015 08:24 AM PST

Chronic (long-term) hypertension increases a person's susceptibility to glaucoma, a new study has found. These results suggest that doctors should consider a patient's blood pressure levels in managing the potentially blinding eye disorder.

Study identifies risk factors linking low birthweight to diabetes

Posted: 05 Jan 2015 08:24 AM PST

Low birth weight predicts an increased risk of type 2 diabetes in adulthood, s new study of more than 3,000 women confirms. It also identifies which intermediating biomarkers appear to be the best predictors. The research could help physicians better assess patient risk.

Geographic information helps provide public health intelligence at mass gatherings

Posted: 05 Jan 2015 06:28 AM PST

The potential for an existing infection to spread at mass events should not be underestimated, researchers say. Infectious diseases are one of the many health issues that worry the organizers of mass gatherings, such as the Hajj and the World Cup. Tools of the trade can help event organizers to better plan, monitor and respond timely to such eventualities, they add.

Ebola outbreak offers lessons, reminders for critical care clinicians

Posted: 05 Jan 2015 05:19 AM PST

Outbreaks of infectious diseases, such as Ebola in West Africa, offer insight for how healthcare professionals can respond more effectively to current and future challenges, experts say.

Women, quitting smoking for New Years? Time it with your period!

Posted: 05 Jan 2015 05:18 AM PST

The menstrual cycle appears to have an effect on nicotine cravings, according to a new study. "Our data reveal that incontrollable urges to smoke are stronger at the beginning of the follicular phase that begins after menstruation. Hormonal decreases of estrogen and progesterone possibly deepen the withdrawal syndrome and increase activity of neural circuits associated with craving," an investigator said, suggesting that it could therefore be easier for women to overcome abstinence-related withdrawal symptoms during the mid-luteal phrase, i.e. after ovulation, when their levels of estrogen and progesterone are elevated.

Health-promoting Nordic diet reduces inflammatory gene activity in adipose tissue

Posted: 05 Jan 2015 05:18 AM PST

A Nordic study has discovered that the health-promoting Nordic diet reduces the expression of inflammation-associated genes in subcutaneous adipose tissue. In overweight persons, the expression of these genes reduced without weight loss. To a certain extent, the adverse health effects of overweight are believed to be caused by an inflammatory state in adipose tissue.

Rotating night shift work can be hazardous to your health

Posted: 05 Jan 2015 05:17 AM PST

Night shift work has been consistently associated with higher risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD) and cancer. In 2007 the World Health Organization classified night shift work as a probable carcinogen due to circadian disruption. In a new study, researchers found that women working rotating night shifts for five or more years appeared to have a modest increase in all-cause and CVD mortality and those working 15 or more years of rotating night shift work appeared to have a modest increase in lung cancer mortality. These results add to prior evidence of a potentially detrimental effect of rotating night shift work on health and longevity.

Fructose more toxic than table sugar, mouse study suggests

Posted: 05 Jan 2015 05:05 AM PST

When biologists fed mice sugar in doses proportional to what many people eat, the fructose-glucose mixture found in high-fructose corn syrup was more toxic than sucrose or table sugar, reducing both the reproduction and lifespan of female rodents.

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