Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Cabbage compound protects healthy tissue from radiation damage

Posted by Neill Abayon

A team of US researchers has discovered that an anti-cancer compound present in cruciferous vegetables, such as cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli, also protects rodents from lethal doses of radiation.  

 The compound, called 3,3'-diindolylmethane, and known more simply as "DIM," is already shown to be safe in humans, and so the researchers expect it could serve as a shield to protect healthy tissue in human cancer patients from damage by radiation therapy, or lessen its side effects.

The team, from Georgetown University Medical Center (GUMC) in Washington, DC, reports its findings in the latest online issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

One of the researchers, Eliot Rosen, a professor of oncology, biochemistry and cell and molecular biology, and radiation medicine at Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, a part of GUMC, says:

"DIM has been studied as a cancer prevention agent for years, but this is the first indication that DIM can also act as a radiation protector."

More here. 


Family caregiving linked to longer life expectancy

 Posted by Neill Abayon

A new US study led by Johns Hopkins researchers contradicts long-standing beliefs that the stress of caregiving leads to early death and instead shows that family caregivers live around 9 months longer than non- caregivers.

Lead author Dr. David L. Roth, director of the Johns Hopkins University Center on Aging and Health, and colleagues report their findings in the latest online issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology.

Commenting on the findings, Dr. Roth says:

"Taking care of a chronically ill person in your family is often associated with stress, and caregiving has been previously linked to increased mortality rates. Our study provides important new information on the issue of whether informal family caregiving responsibilities are associated with higher or lower mortality rates as suggested by multiple conflicting previous studies."

More of the story here.

1 in 2,000 British people may carry 'mad cow' disease

Posted by Neill Abayon

Around 1 in every 2,000 people in the UK may carry variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) proteins, more commonly known as "mad cow" disease or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). This is according to a study published in the BMJ.

 Variant CJD is a fatal degenerative brain disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the median duration of illness from vCJD is 14 months, while the median age at death from the disease is 28-years-old.

The illness was first described in the UK in 1996 and is thought to have resulted from transmission of infection from BSE in cattle to humans through meat products.

According to the team of UK researchers, there have been 177 clinical cases of vCJD to date in the UK.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there have been only three cases of vCJD reported in the US between 1996 and March 2011. However, previous studies have estimated that around 1 in 4,000 people may carry vCJD prions.

There is uncertainty surrounding the number of people who will eventually develop the disease, and it is unclear whether carriers risk transmitting the disease through blood transfusion or surgery.

Because of these cloudy areas, the researchers wanted to conduct a survey in order to more accurately determine how many people in the UK could be carriers of vCJD, and to identify the genotype of the carriers.

The research team analyzed more than 32,000 appendix samples over 41 hospitals from people who had their appendix removed between 2000 and 2012. 

More here.


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Check for blood in urine, urges kidney cancer campaign

West Bromwich Albion midfielder Youssouf Mulumbu and referee Dave Nixon are supporting the campaign
 Posted by Neill Abayon

If you see blood in your urine, even if it is just once, it could be a sign of cancer, a public health campaign warns.

Kidney cancer diagnoses have risen by a third in the past 10 years in England.

And the death toll has increased by 7%, with about 3,500 people dying from kidney cancer in England in 2011.

Public Health England (PHE) says the rise is linked to unhealthy lifestyles - smoking and obesity both raise the risk of kidney cancer - but early diagnosis could drive down death rates.

When kidney cancer is diagnosed at the earliest stage, the one-year survival rate is close to 97%, compared with about 32% at a late stage. 

Visible blood in the urine is a symptom in more than 80% of bladder cancer patients and in most of those with kidney cancer.

However, when asked to name cancer signs and symptoms, only a third of people mention unexplained bleeding, according to PHE.

Prof Kevin Fenton, PHE director of health and wellbeing, said: "Our message is clear - as soon as you spot blood in your pee, visit the GP.

"It's probably nothing serious, but it could also be a sign of something else that needs treatment, so don't ignore the symptoms or put off a trip to the doctor."

More here.


Air pollution 'still harming Europeans' health'


Activating aging in tumor cells may help lymphoma treatment

Posted by Neill Abayon

Perhaps the key to fighting some cancers is to reactivate a process that normally prevents cell proliferation. Now in the case of large B-cell lymphoma, scientists have found such a mechanism.

They reactivated a gene that controls the normal aging program in tumor cells so they can no longer divide. The researchers believe the discovery may lead to new drug targets for treating the cancer.

In a report about their work published online this week in Nature Communications, the researchers describe how they found a new tumor-suppressive role for a protein called Smurf2 that is known to enforce cell aging (senescence) in a subset of diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL).

Senior author Hong Zhang, assistant professor of cell and developmental biology at University of Massachusetts (UMass) Medical School, says:

"It's possible that restoration of Smurf2 expression may provide therapeutic benefits for patients and help encourage remission in difficult to treat cases."

He explains that normally this pathway regulates cell aging and stops B cells dividing and multiplying.
But humans with DLBCL show low expression of Smurf2, and such low activity of the protein affects a pathway that promotes unchecked cell division and tumor growth.
 More here.


Binge drinking during pregnancy linked to negative emotions

Posted by Neill Abayon

Researchers in Norway found that negative affectivity is linked to light alcohol use and binge drinking during pregnancy. 

Pregnancy is often described as one of the happiest times in a woman's life, but according to The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, between 14-23% of pregnant women will struggle with depression.

Negative affectivity is the tendency to experience negative emotions, such as anxiety and depression. Women suffering from this often tend to have an unfavorable view of themselves and the world in general.

They may be overwhelmed with feelings of worthlessness and guilt and may lose the desire or ability to look after themselves properly.

Previous studies have linked negative affectivity with greater vulnerability to stress, intense emotional reactions to daily life, and inclination to use intoxicants, such as alcohol, in response to stress. 

More here.


New ALS research may spark ways to slow progression

Posted by Neill Abayon

A team of scientists in the UK and Italy has completed new research into motor neuron disease that could spark the development of new treatments. By comparing mice with fast progressing ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), the most common form to mice with the slow progressing form, they found some clues that could help develop new drugs to slow the disease.

ALS accounts for between 60-70% of all cases of motor neuron disease (MND), a serious and incurable disease where nerves in the spine and brain that control movement (motor function) gradually stop working and die. Patients in the later stages of disease may become totally paralyzed and completely lose their ability to walk, talk, eat and breathe.

The team, from the UK's University of Sheffield's Institute for Translational Neuroscience (SITraN) and the Mario Negri Institute for Pharmacological Research in Milan, Italy, report their findings in the journal Brain.

More here. 


Monday, October 14, 2013

Loving touch may be key to healthy sense of self

An affective touch is typically received from a loved one and plays an important role in developing our sense of self.

 Posted by Neill Abayon

A new study suggests that a gentle caress may be the key to feeling comfortable with one's self. Researchers say a loving touch may increase the brain's ability to construct a sense of body ownership and, in turn, play a part in creating and sustaining a healthy sense of self.

 These findings come from a new study published online in Frontiers in Psychology, led by Dr. Aikaterini Fotopoulou from University College London and Dr. Paul Mark Jenkinson from the University of Hertfordshire, both in the UK.

Affective touch, characterized by slow speed tactile stimulation of the skin (between 1 and 10 cm per second) has been previously correlated with pleasant emotion and improving symptoms of anxiety, as well as other emotional symptoms in certain groups of adults and infants.

More here.


'Weighed down by guilt' is more than metaphor, studies show

Feeling weighed down by guilt? Research shows subjective experiences of weight feel heavier when a person recalls situations that induce feelings of guilt.
Posted by Neill Abayon

Researchers have shown, through a series of experiments, that the heaviness of guilt is a very real thing. They found evidence that the emotions attached to guilt can be "grounded in subjective bodily sensation."

Martin Day from Princeton University, NJ, and Ramona Bobocel from the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, published the results of their four studies in the journal PLOS ONE.

"People often say guilt is like a 'weight on one's conscience,' and we examined whether guilt is actually embodied as a sensation of weight," they say.

Their research touches on an emerging field in psychology called "embodied cognition," which they say looks at how thoughts and emotions can interact with the body to guide behavior.

They focused on guilt because they say it helps regulate our moral behavior by helping us "correct our mistakes and prevent future wrongdoing."

Additionally, the researchers say there is no prior research that has studied the embodiment of guilt until now.

More here.


Cancer costing European Union countries 'billions'

Posted by Neill Abayon

Cancer costs countries in the European Union 126bn euro (£107bn) a year, according to the first EU-wide analysis of the economic impact of the disease.

The charity Cancer Research UK said it was a "huge burden".

The figures, published in the Lancet Oncology, included the cost of drugs and health care as well as earnings lost through sickness or families providing care.

Lung cancer was the most costly form of the disease.

The team from the University of Oxford and King's College London analysed data from each of the 27 nations in the EU in 2009.

The showed the total cost was 126bn euro and of that 51bn (£43bn) euro was down to healthcare costs including doctors' time and drug costs.

Lost productivity, because of work missed through sickness or dying young, cost 52bn (£44bn) euro while the cost to families of providing care was put at 23bn (£19.5bn) euro.

More here


Vitamin D pills' effect on healthy bones queried

Posted by Neill Abayon

Healthy adults do not need to take vitamin D supplements, suggests a study in The Lancet which found they had no beneficial effect on bone density, a sign of osteoporosis.

But experts say many other factors could be at play and people should not stop taking supplements.
University of Auckland researchers analysed 23 studies involving more than 4,000 healthy people.
The UK government recommends children and over-65s take a daily supplement.

The New Zealand research team conducted a meta-analysis of all randomised trials examining the effects of vitamin D supplementation on bone mineral density in healthy adults up to July 2012.

The supplements were taken for an average of two years by the study participants.

More here.