Diet or exercise? ‘Energy balance’ real key to disease prevention

A majority of Americans are overweight or obese, a factor in the rapid rise in common diseases like diabetes, heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure and more. According to a paper published collaboratively in this month’s issues of the official journals of both the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, energy balance is a viable public health solution to address the obesity epidemic. The paper outlines steps to incorporate energy balance principles into public health outreach in the U.S.”It is time we collectively move beyond debating nutrition or exercise and focus on nutrition and exercise,” said co-author and ACSM member Melinda Manore, Ph.D., R.D., C.S.S.D., FACSM of Oregon State University. “Nutrition and exercise professionals working collaboratively, combined with effective public health messaging about the importance of energy balance, can help America shape up and become healthier.”The paper, published in the July edition of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise and in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, gives the following recommendations:• Integrate energy balance into curriculum and training for both exercise science and nutrition professionals and strengthen collaborative efforts between them • Develop competencies for school and physical education teachers and position them as energy balance advocates • Develop core standards for schools that integrate the dynamic energy balance approach • Work with federally-funded nutrition programs like the Cooperative Extension Service and school lunch programs to incorporate energy balance solutions • Develop messaging and promotional strategies about energy balance that American consumers can understand and apply to their lifestyle • Map out and support existing programs that emphasize energy balance”Our health professionals are currently working in silos and must work together to educate and promote energy balance as the key to better health” said Manore. “The obesity crisis is one of the greatest public health challenges of our generation. Energy balance can help us work toward a solution so our children aren’t saddled with the same health challenges we currently face. “The paper is an outcome of the October 2012 expert panel meeting titled “Energy Balance at the Crossroads: Translating the Science into Action” hosted by ACSM, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA)/Agriculture Research Service.Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

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Common herbal supplement can cause dangerous interactions with prescription drugs

St. John’s wort, the leading complementary and alternative treatment for depression in the United States, can be dangerous when taken with many commonly prescribed drugs, according to a study by researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.The researchers reported that the herbal supplement can reduce the concentration of numerous drugs in the body, including oral contraceptive, blood thinners, cancer chemotherapy and blood pressure medications, resulting in impaired effectiveness and treatment failure.”Patients may have a false sense of safety with so-called ‘natural’ treatments like St. John’s wort,” said Sarah Taylor, M.D., assistant professor of dermatology at Wake Forest Baptist and lead author of the study. “And it is crucial for physicians to know the dangers of ‘natural’ treatments and to communicate the risks to patients effectively.” The study is published in the current online issue of The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.To determine how often S. John’s wort (SJW) was being prescribed or taken with other medications, the team conducted a retrospective analysis of nationally representative data collected by the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey from 1993 to 2010. The research team found the use of SJW in potentially harmful combinations in 28 percent of the cases reviewed.Possible drug interactions can include serotonin syndrome, a potentially fatal condition that causes high levels of the chemical serotonin to accumulate in your body, heart disease due to impaired efficacy of blood pressure medications or unplanned pregnancy due to contraceptive failure, Taylor said.Limitations of the study are that only medications recorded by the physician were analyzed. However, she said the rate of SJW interactions may actually be underestimated because the database did not include patients who were using SJW but did not tell their doctor.”Labeling requirements for helpful supplements such as St. John’s wort need to provide appropriate cautions and risk information,” Taylor said, adding that France has banned the use of St. John’s wort products and several other countries, including Japan, the United Kingdom, and Canada, are in the process of including drug-herb interaction warnings on St. John’s wort products.”Doctors also need to be trained to always ask if the patient is taking any supplements, vitamins, minerals or herbs, especially before prescribing any of the common drugs that might interact with St. …

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Ceremonial PTSD therapies favored by Native American veterans

Native American veterans battling Post Traumatic Stress Disorder find relief and healing through an alternative treatment called the Sweat Lodge ceremony offered at the Spokane Veterans Administration Hospital.In the Arizona desert, wounded warriors from the Hopi Nation can join in a ceremony called Wiping Away the Tears. The traditional cleansing ritual helps dispel a chronic “ghost sickness” that can haunt survivors of battle.These and other traditional healing therapies are the treatment of choice for many Native American veterans, — half of whom say usual PTSD treatments don’t work — according to a recent survey conducted at Washington State University. The findings will be presented at the American Psychological Association conference in Washington D.C. this August.The study is available online at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/nativeveterans.Led by Greg Urquhart and Matthew Hale, both Native veterans and graduate students in the College of Education, the ongoing study examines the attitudes, perceptions, and beliefs of Native American veterans concerning PTSD and its various treatment options. Their goal is to give Native veterans a voice in shaping the types of therapies available in future programs.”Across the board, Native vets don’t feel represented. Their voices have been silenced and ignored for so long that they were happy to provide feedback on our survey,” said Hale.Historically, Native Americans have served in the military at higher rates than all other U.S. populations. Veterans are traditionally honored as warriors and esteemed in the tribal community.A 2012 report by the Department of Veterans Affairs showed that the percentage of Native veterans under age 65 outnumbers similar percentages for veterans of all other racial groups combined.The WSU survey provides a first-hand look at the veterans’ needs, but more importantly, reveals the unique preferences they have as Native American veterans, said Phyllis Erdman, executive associate dean for academic affairs at the college and mentor for the study.Cultural worldviewUrquhart said many Native veterans are reluctant to seek treatment for PTSD because typical western therapy options don’t represent the Native cultural worldview.”The traditional Native view of health and spirituality is intertwined,” he explained. “Spirit, mind, and body are all one — you can’t parcel one out from the other — so spirituality is a huge component of healing and one not often included in western medicine, although there have been a few studies on the positive effects of prayer.”For many years, the U.S. government banned Native religious ceremonies, which subsequently limited their use in PTSD programs, said Urquhart. …

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‘Lost in translation’ issues in Chinese medicine addressed by researchers

Millions of people in the West today utilize traditional Chinese medicine, including acupuncture, herbs, massage and nutritional therapies. Yet only a few U.S. schools that teach Chinese medicine require Chinese-language training and only a handful of Chinese medical texts have so far been translated into English.Given the complexity of the language and concepts in these texts, there is a need for accurate, high-quality translations, say researchers at UCLA’s Center for East-West Medicine. To that end, the center has published a document that includes a detailed discussion of the issues involved in Chinese medical translation, which is designed to help students, educators, practitioners, researchers, publishers and translators evaluate and digest Chinese medical texts with greater sensitivity and comprehension.”This publication aims to raise awareness among the many stakeholders involved with the translation of Chinese medicine,” said principal investigator and study author Dr. Ka-Kit Hui, founder and director of the UCLA center.The 15-page document, “Considerations in the Translation of Chinese Medicine” was developed and written by a UCLA team that included a doctor, an anthropologist, a China scholar and a translator. It appears in the current online edition of the Journal of Integrative Medicine.Authors Sonya Pritzker, a licensed Chinese medicine practitioner and anthropologist, and Hanmo Zhang, a China scholar, hope the publication will promote communication in the field and play a role in the development of thorough, accurate translations.The document highlights several important topics in the translation of Chinese medical texts, including the history of Chinese medical translations, which individuals make ideal translators, and other translation-specific issues, such as the delicate balance of focusing translations on the source-document language while considering the language it will be translated into.It also addresses issues of technical terminology, period-specific language and style, and historical and cultural perspective. For example, depending on historical circumstances and language use, some translations may be geared toward a Western scientific audience or, alternately, it may take a more natural and spiritual tone. The authors note that it is sometimes helpful to include dual translations, such as “windfire eye/acute conjunctivitis,” in order to facilitate a link between traditional Chinese medical terms and biomedical diagnoses.The final section of the document calls for further discussion and action, specifically in the development of international collaborative efforts geared toward the creation of more rigorous guidelines for the translation of Chinese medicine texts.”Considerations in the Translation of Chinese Medicine,” was inspired by the late renowned translator and scholar Michael Heim, a professor in the UCLA departments of comparative literature and Slavic studies. A master of 12 languages, he is best known for his translation into English of Czech author Milan Kundera’s “The Unbearable Lightness of Being.” The new UCLA document is dedicated to him.The document, the authors say, was influenced in large part by the American Council of Learned Societies’ “Guidelines for the Translation of Social Science Texts,” which are intended to promote communications in the social sciences across language boundaries. It was also influenced by Pritzker’s longstanding anthropological study of translation in Chinese medicine, which is detailed in her new book, “Living Translation: Language and the Search for Resonance in U.S. …

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Bothered by hot flashes? Acupuncture might be the answer, analysis suggests

In the 2,500+ years that have passed since acupuncture was first used by the ancient Chinese, it has been used to treat a number of physical, mental and emotional conditions including nausea and vomiting, stroke rehabilitation, headaches, menstrual cramps, asthma, carpal tunnel, fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis, to name just a few. Now, a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials which is being published this month in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS), indicates that acupuncture can affect the severity and frequency of hot flashes for women in natural menopause.An extensive search of previous studies evaluating the effectiveness of acupuncture uncovered 104 relevant students, of which 12 studies with 869 participants met the specified inclusion criteria to be included in this current study. While the studies provided inconsistent findings on the effects of acupuncture on other menopause-related symptoms such as sleep problems, mood disturbances and sexual problems, they did conclude that acupuncture positively impacted both the frequency and severity of hot flashes.Women experiencing natural menopause and aged between 40 and 60 years were included in the analysis, which evaluated the effects of various forms of acupuncture, including traditional Chinese medicine acupuncture (TCMA), acupressure, electroacupuncture, laser acupuncture and ear acupuncture.Interestingly, neither the effect on hot flash frequency or severity appeared to be linked to the number of treatment doses, number of sessions or duration of treatment. However, the findings showed that sham acupuncture could induce a treatment effect comparable with that of true acupuncture for the reduction of hot flash frequency. The effects on hot flashes were shown to be maintained for as long as three months.Although the study stopped short of explaining the exact mechanism underlying the effects of acupuncture on hot flashes, a theory was proposed to suggest that acupuncture caused a reduction in the concentration of β-endorphin in the hypothalamus, resulting from low concentrations of estrogen. These lower levels could trigger the release of CGRP, which affects thermoregulation.”More than anything, this review indicates that there is still much to be learned relative to the causes and treatments of menopausal hot flashes,” says NAMS executive director Margery Gass, MD. “The review suggests that acupuncture may be an effective alternative for reducing hot flashes, especially for those women seeking non- pharmacologic therapies.”A recent review indicated that approximately half of women experiencing menopause-associated symptoms use complementary and alternative medicine therapy, instead of pharmacologic therapies, for managing their menopausal symptoms.Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by The North American Menopause Society (NAMS). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

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Caffeine intake may worsen menopausal hot flashes, night sweats

A new Mayo Clinic study, published online by the journal Menopause, found an association between caffeine intake and more bothersome hot flashes and night sweats in postmenopausal women. The study also showed an association between caffeine intake and fewer problems with mood, memory and concentration in perimenopausal women, possibly because caffeine is known to enhance arousal, mood and attention. The findings of this largest study to date on caffeine and menopausal symptoms are published on the Menopause website and will also be printed in a future issue of the journal.For the study, researchers conducted a survey using the Menopause Health Questionnaire, a comprehensive assessment of menopause-related health information that includes personal habits and ratings of menopausal symptom presence and severity. Questionnaires were completed by 2,507 consecutive women who presented with menopausal concerns at the Women’s Health Clinic at Mayo Clinic in Rochester between July 25, 2005, and July 25, 2011. Data from 1,806 women who met all inclusion criteria were analyzed. Menopausal symptom ratings were compared between caffeine users and nonusers.Approximately 85 percent of the U.S. population consumes some form of caffeine-containing beverage daily. Vasomotor symptoms (hot flashes and night sweats) are the most commonly reported menopausal symptoms, occurring in 79 percent of perimenopausal women and 65 percent of postmenopausal women. Although it has long been believed that caffeine intake exacerbates menopausal vasomotor symptoms, research has challenged this assumption, as caffeine has been both positively and negatively linked to hot flashes.”While these findings are preliminary, our study suggests that limiting caffeine intake may be useful for those postmenopausal women who have bothersome hot flashes and night sweats,” says Stephanie Faubion, M.D., director of the Women’s Health Clinic at Mayo Clinic in Rochester. “Menopause symptoms can be challenging but there are many management strategies to try.”Other strategies Dr. …

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New Chinese herbal medicine has significant potential in treating hepatitis C, study suggests

ata from a late-breaking abstract presented at the International Liver CongressTM 2014 identifies a new compound, SBEL1, that has the ability to inhibit hepatitis C virus (HCV) activity in cells at several points in the virus’ lifecycle.[i]SBEL1 is a compound isolated from Chinese herbal medicines that was found to inhibit HCV activity by approximately 90%. SBEL1 is extracted from a herb found in certain regions of Taiwan and Southern China. In Chinese medicine, it is used to treat sore throats and inflammations. The function of SBEL1 within the plant is unknown and its role and origins are currently being investigated.Scientists pre-treated human liver cells in vitro with SBEL1 prior to HCV infection and found that SBEL1 pre-treated cells contained 23 percent less HCV protein than the control, suggesting that SBEL1 blocks virus entry. The liver cells transfected with an HCV internal ribosome entry site (IRES)-driven luciferase reporter that were treated with SBEL1 reduced reporter activity by 50% compared to control. This suggests that that SBEL1 inhibits IRES-mediated translation, a critical process for viral protein production.In addition, the HCV ribonucleic acid (RNA) levels were significantly reduced by 78 percent in HCV infected cells treated with SBEL1 compared to the control group. This demonstrates that SBEL1 may also affect the viral RNA replication process.Prof. Markus Peck-Radosavljevic, Secretary-General of the European Association for the Study of the Liver and Associate Professor of Medicine, University of Vienna, Austria, commented: “People infected with hepatitis C are at risk of developing severe liver damage including liver cancer and cirrhosis. In the past, less than 20 percent of all HCV patients were treated because the available treatments were unsuitable due to poor efficacy and high toxicity. Recent advances means that we can now virtually cure HCV without unpleasant side effects. …

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Fatty acid composition in blood reflects quality of dietary carbohydrates in children

Recently published research in the University of Eastern Finland found that fatty acid composition in blood is not only a biomarker for the quality of dietary fat but also reflects the quality of dietary carbohydrates. For example the proportion of oleic acid was higher among children who consumed a lot of candy and little high-fibre grain products. Earlier studies on the topic have mainly concentrated on the association of the quality of dietary fat with fatty acid composition in blood. In the present study, the association of the quality of dietary carbohydrates with plasma fatty acid composition was investigated for the first time in children.A higher consumption of candy and a lower consumption of high-fibre grain products were associated with a higher proportion of oleic acid in blood. One explanation for this finding may be that children who consumed more candy and less high-fibre grain products also consumed more foods rich in saturated fat. Saturated fat, that is known to be harmful to health, has previously been shown to correlate positively with oleic acid intake in Western diet not favoring olive oil.A higher consumption of candy was associated with a higher estimated delta-9 desaturase that indicates the activity of delta-9-desaturase in liver. A higher intake of carbohydrates has previously been shown to be associated with a higher activity of delta-9-desaturase in adults but the studies on this topic are lacking in children. The delta-9-desaturase is an enzyme that catalyzes the reactions of producing monounsaturated fatty acids from saturated fatty acids. Thus, it prevents the accumulation of saturated fatty acids in the liver but at the same time it promotes the excretion of fatty acids to the blood stream. The increase in delta-9-desaturase activity may be related to an increased production of saturated fatty acids from sugar in the liver that is harmful for lipid metabolism.A higher consumption of vegetable oil-based margarine containing at least 60 percent fat was associated with higher proportions of polyunsaturated fatty acids, linoleic acid and alfa-linolenic fatty acid in blood that is in line with the results of the previous studies in adults and children. …

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Green tea extract boosts your brain power, especially the working memory, new research shows

Green tea is said to have many putative positive effects on health. Now, researchers at the University of Basel are reporting first evidence that green tea extract enhances the cognitive functions, in particular the working memory. The Swiss findings suggest promising clinical implications for the treatment of cognitive impairments in psychiatric disorders such as dementia. The academic journal Psychopharmacology has published their results.In the past the main ingredients of green tea have been thoroughly studied in cancer research. Recently, scientists have also been inquiring into the beverage’s positive impact on the human brain. Different studies were able to link green tea to beneficial effects on the cognitive performance. However, the neural mechanisms underlying this cognitive enhancing effect of green tea remained unknown.Better memoryIn a new study, the researcher teams of Prof. Christoph Beglinger from the University Hospital of Basel and Prof. Stefan Borgwardt from the Psychiatric University Clinics found that green tea extract increases the brain’s effective connectivity, meaning the causal influence that one brain area exerts over another. This effect on connectivity also led to improvement in actual cognitive performance: Subjects tested significantly better for working memory tasks after the admission of green tea extract.For the study healthy male volunteers received a soft drink containing several grams of green tea extract before they solved working memory tasks. …

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‘3-D’ test could reduce reliance on animals for testing asthma and allergy medications

To determine whether new medicines are safe and effective for humans, researchers must first test them in animals, which is costly and time-consuming, as well as ethically challenging. In a study published in ACS’ journal Molecular Pharmaceutics, scientists report that they’ve developed a simple, “3D” laboratory method to test asthma and allergy medications that mimics what happens in the body, which could help reduce the need for animal testing.Amir Ghaemmaghami and colleagues note that respiratory conditions, such as asthma and allergies, are becoming more common. These conditions affect the lungs and the airway leading to the lungs, making it difficult to breathe. Every year, respiratory symptoms lead to expensive hospital visits, as well as absences from work and school. Better drugs could provide relief, but before giving new medicines to people, researchers must first test them in animals — a costly and laborious process. Sometimes, researchers will use “2D” tests in which they apply the drug to a layer of human cells in a lab dish instead, but this isn’t an adequate way to tell how a medicine will work in a whole animal or a whole person. So, Ghaemmaghami’s team developed a new, 3D alternative.Their test includes three types of human cells that are typically in a person’s airway. In the body, these cells are close together and are involved in the development of respiratory conditions. The 3D “model” reacted just like a real person’s airway when they exposed it to allergens and bacterial extract. They say that the model has the potential of reducing the need for some animal testing of new drugs for respiratory conditions.Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by American Chemical Society. …

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Coffee Consumption Reduces Mortality Risk from Liver Cirrhosis

New research reveals that consuming two or more cups of coffee each day reduces the risk of death from liver cirrhosis by 66%, specifically cirrhosis caused by non-viral hepatitis. Findings in Hepatology, a journal published by Wiley on behalf of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases, show that tea, fruit juice, and soft drink consumption are not linked to cirrhosis mortality risk. As with previous studies heavy alcohol use was found to increase risk of death from cirrhosis.A 2004 report from The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that each year 1.3% of total death worldwide is caused by liver cirrhosis. Previous research shows that 29 million Europeans have chronic liver disease, with 17,000 deaths annually attributed to cirrhosis. Further WHO reports state that liver cirrhosis is the 11th leading cause of death in the U.S.”Prior evidence suggests that coffee may reduce liver damage in patients with chronic liver disease,” said lead researcher, Dr. Woon-Puay Koh with Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School Singapore and the National University of Singapore. “Our study examined the effects of consuming coffee, alcohol, black tea, green tea, and soft drinks on risk of mortality from cirrhosis.”This prospective population-based study, known as The Singapore Chinese Health Study, recruited 63,275 Chinese subjects between the ages of 45 and 74 living in Singapore. Participants provided information on diet, lifestyle choices, and medical history during in-person interviews conducted between 1993 and 1998. Patients were followed for an average of nearly 15 years, during which time there were 14,928 deaths (24%); 114 of them died from liver cirrhosis. The mean age of death was 67 years.Findings indicate that those who drank at least 20 g of ethanol daily had a greater risk of cirrhosis mortality compared to non-drinker. …

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Migraine attacks increase following stress ‘let-down’

Migraine sufferers who experienced reduced stress from one day to the next are at significantly increased risk of migraine onset on the subsequent day, according to a new study conducted by researchers at the Montefiore Headache Center and Albert Einstein College of Medicine at Yeshiva University. Stress has long been believed to be a common headache trigger. In this study, researchers found that relaxation following heightened stress was an even more significant trigger for migraine attacks. Findings may aid in recommending preventive treatments and behavioral interventions. The study was published online in Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.Migraine is a chronic condition that affects approximately 38 million Americans. To examine headache triggers, investigators at the Montefiore Headache Center and Einstein conducted a three month electronic daily diary study which captured 2,011 diary records and 110 eligible migraine attacks in 17 participants. The study compared levels of stress and reduction in stress as predictors of headache.”This study demonstrates a striking association between reduction in perceived stress and the occurrence of migraine headaches,” said study lead author Richard B. Lipton, M.D., director, Montefiore Headache Center, professor and vice chair of neurology and the Edwin S. Lowe Chair in Neurology, Einstein. “Results were strongest during the first six hours where decline in stress was associated with a nearly five-fold increased risk of migraine onset. …

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Medical marijuana may ease some MS; Little evidence for other complementary or alternative therapies

A new guideline from the American Academy of Neurology suggests that there is little evidence that most complementary or alternative medicine therapies (CAM) treat the symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS). However, the guideline states the CAM therapies oral cannabis, or medical marijuana pills, and oral medical marijuana spray may ease patients’ reported symptoms of spasticity, pain related to spasticity and frequent urination in multiple sclerosis (MS). The guideline, which is published in the March 25, 2014, print issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology, states that there is not enough evidence to show whether smoking marijuana is helpful in treating MS symptoms.The guideline looked at CAM therapies, which are nonconventional therapies used in addition to or instead of doctor-recommended therapies. Examples include oral cannabis, or medical marijuana pills and oral medical marijuana spray, ginkgo biloba, magnetic therapy, bee sting therapy, omega-3 fatty acids and reflexology.”Using different CAM therapies is common in 33 to 80 percent of people with MS, particularly those who are female, have higher education levels and report poorer health,” said guideline lead author Vijayshree Yadav, MD, MCR, with Oregon Health & Science University in Portland and a member of the American Academy of Neurology. “People with MS should let their doctors know what types of these therapies they are taking, or thinking about taking.”For most CAM therapies, safety is unknown. There is not enough information to show if CAM therapies interact with prescription MS drugs. Most CAM therapies are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Dronabinol and nabilone are synthetic forms of key ingredients in marijuana. The FDA approved both drugs as treatments for nausea and vomiting associated with cancer chemotherapy that do not respond to standard treatments. Dronabinol also is approved for loss of appetite associated with weight loss in patients with AIDS.The guideline found that certain forms of medical marijuana, in pill or oral spray form only, may help reduce patients’ reported spasticity symptoms, pain due to spasticity, and frequent urination but not loss of bladder control. …

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Fewer children at risk for deficient vitamin D

Under new guidelines from the Institute of Medicine, the estimated number of children who are at risk of having insufficient or deficient levels of vitamin D is drastically reduced from previous estimates, according to a Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine study.The study, led by Holly Kramer, MD, MPH, and Ramon Durazo-Arvizu, PhD, is published online ahead of print in the Journal of Pediatric Endocrinology and Metabolism.New Institute of Medicine guidelines say most people get sufficient vitamin D when their blood levels are at or above 20 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL). The Pediatric Endocrine Society has a similar guideline. However, other guidelines recommend vitamin D levels above 30 ng/mL.Loyola researchers studied vitamin D data from a nationally representative sample of 2,877 U.S. children and adolescents ages 6 to 18 who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.The study found that under the Institute of Medicine guidelines, 10.3 percent of children ages 6 to 18 are at risk of inadequate or deficient vitamin D levels. (This translates to an estimated 5.5 million children.)By comparison, a 2009 study in the journal Pediatrics, which defined sufficient vitamin D levels as greater than 30 ng/mL, found that an estimated 70 percent of people ages 1 to 21 had deficient or insufficient vitamin D levels.Under previous guidelines, millions of children who had vitamin D levels between 20 and 30 ng/mL would have needed supplementation. Under the Institute of Medicine guidelines, children in this range no longer need to take vitamin D supplements.The new study found that children at risk of vitamin D deficiency under the Institute of Medicine guidelines are more likely to be overweight, female, non-white and between the ages of 14 and 18.The Institute of Medicine’s new vitamin D guidelines are based on nearly 1,000 published studies and testimony from scientists and other experts. The IOM found that vitamin D is essential to avoid poor bone health, such as rickets. But there have been conflicting and mixed results in studies on whether vitamin D can also protect against cancer, heart disease, autoimmune diseases and diabetes. Moreover, excessive vitamin D can damage the kidneys and heart, the IOM found.Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by Loyola University Health System. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

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New guidelines employ a team approach to autism diagnosis, care

Improving diagnosis and treatment for individuals with autism has been the focus of a growing body of research. New information from these studies led the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry to revise key parameters for evaluating and treating autism. Researchers led by Yale Child Study Center director Fred Volkmar, M.D., have published the new practice parameters in the Feb. issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.”Early diagnosis of children with autism spectrum disorders means treatments will be introduced that lead to more positive outcomes for children,” said Volkmar the Irving B. Harris Professor of Psychiatry, Pediatrics, and Psychology at the Yale School of Medicine.According to the parameters, clinicians should routinely look for symptoms of autism spectrum disorder in young children undergoing developmental assessments, and in all psychiatric evaluations. If significant symptoms are detected, clinicians should then coordinate a careful medical, psychological, and communication evaluation. These evaluations should differentiate between autism and a variety of developmental and other disorders, as well as intellectual and behavioral disabilities.”Our goal was advocacy for individuals with autism and their families, and to ensure that services are coordinated across clinical care,” said Volkmar. “Our field is changing rapidly, and these parameters are meant to promote effective care and move professional medical methods closer to current practices.”Volkmar and his co-authors reviewed abstracts from 9,481 research articles on autism that were published between 1991 and 2013. They then fully studied 186 of those articles based on their quality and ability to be applied more generally.”Treatment should involve a team approach,” said Volkmar, who notes that under these treatment parameters, psychiatrists will closely coordinate diagnosis and treatment with teachers, behavioral psychologists, and speech and language pathologists, and look for commonly occurring conditions.A key addition to the new parameters is a focus on how clinicians should address the use of non-traditional therapies, like chelation and secretin. Clinicians are urged to ask families if they are using alternative/complementary treatments and to discuss the therapies’ risks and potential benefits. …

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Yoga regulates stress hormones, improves quality of life for women with breast cancer undergoing radiation therapy

For women with breast cancer undergoing radiation therapy, yoga offers unique benefits beyond fighting fatigue, according to research from The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.The preliminary findings were first reported in 2011 by Lorenzo Cohen, Ph.D., professor and director of the Integrative Medicine Program at MD Anderson, and are now published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. This research is part of an ongoing effort to scientifically validate mind-body interventions in cancer patients and was conducted in collaboration with India’s largest yoga research institution, Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana in Bangalore, India.Researchers found that while simple stretching exercises counteracted fatigue, patients who participated in yoga exercises that incorporated controlled breathing, meditation and relaxation techniques into their treatment plan experienced improved ability to engage in their daily activities, better general health and better regulation of cortisol (stress hormone). Women in the yoga group were also better equipped to find meaning in the illness experience, which declined over time for the women in the other two groups.The study also assessed, for the first time, yoga benefits in cancer patients by comparing their experience with patients in an active control group who integrated simple, generic stretching exercises into their lives.”Combining mind and body practices that are part of yoga clearly have tremendous potential to help patients manage the psychosocial and physical difficulties associated with treatment and life after cancer, beyond the benefits of simple stretching,” said Cohen.To conduct the study, 191 women with breast cancer (stage 0-3) were randomized to one of three groups: 1) yoga; 2) simple stretching; or 3) no instruction in yoga or stretching. Participants in the yoga and stretching groups attended sessions specifically tailored to breast cancer patients for one-hour, three days a week throughout their six weeks of radiation treatment.Participants were asked to report on their quality of life, including levels of fatigue and depression, their daily functioning and a measure assessing ability to find meaning in the illness experience. Saliva samples were collected and electrocardiogram tests were administered at baseline, end of treatment, and at one, three and six months post-treatment.Women who practiced yoga had the steepest decline in their cortisol levels across the day, indicating that yoga had the ability to help regulate this stress hormone. This is particularly important because higher stress hormone levels throughout the day, known as a blunted circadian cortisol rhythm, have been linked to worse outcomes in breast cancer.Additionally, after completing radiation treatment, only the women in the yoga and stretching groups reported a reduction in fatigue. At one, three and six months after radiation therapy, women who practiced yoga during the treatment period reported greater benefits to physical functioning and general health. They were more likely to find life meaning from their cancer experience than the other groups.According to Cohen, research shows that developing a yoga practice also helps patients after completing cancer treatment.”The transition from active therapy back to everyday life can be very stressful as patients no longer receive the same level of medical care and attention. Teaching patients a mind-body technique like yoga as a coping skill can make the transition less difficult.”Through a grant from the National Cancer Institute, Cohen and his team are now conducting a Phase III clinical trial in women with breast cancer to further determine the mechanisms of yoga that lead to improvement in physical functioning, quality of life and biological outcomes during and after radiation treatment. A secondary aim of the trial, but one of great importance, stressed Cohen, is assessing cost efficiency analysis for the hospital, health care usage costs in general and examining work productivity of patients.

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Herbal cannabis not recommended for rheumatology patients

Patients with rheumatic conditions are in need of symptom relief and some are turning to herbal cannabis as a treatment option. However, the effectiveness and safety of medical marijuana to treat symptoms of rheumatic conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, or fibromyalgia is not supported by medical evidence. A new article published in Arthritis Care & Research, a journal of the American College of Rheumatology (ACR), explores the risks associated with using herbal cannabis for medicinal purposes and advises healthcare providers to discourage rheumatology patients from using this drug as therapy.The reason for the medical interest in herbal cannabis is that the human body has an extensive cannabinoid system comprising molecules and receptors that have effects on many functions including pain modulation. Medical cannabis is commonly used to self-treat severe pain associated with arthritis and musculoskeletal pain. In fact, previous research reports that 80% of marijuana users in a U.S. pain clinic are treating myofascial pain with the drug. In population studies in the U.K. and Australia, up to 33% of individuals report using marijuana to treat arthritis pain. As of June 2013, estimates from the office of Information Commissioner of Canada list “severe arthritis” as the reason the 65% of Canadians who are allowed to possess marijuana for medicinal purposes.”With the public outcry for herbal cannabis therapy, governments around the world are considering its legalization for medicinal use,” explains lead investigator Dr. Mary-Ann Fitzcharles, a researcher and rheumatologist at the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) and the Research Institute of the MUHC in Quebec, Canada. …

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Will your grandmother’s diet increase your risk of colon cancer?

Will a multi-generational exposure to a western type diet increase offspring’s chance of developing colon cancer? Will cancer-fighting agents, like green tea, help combat that increased risk?Those are the two questions Abby Benninghoff, an assistant professor in Utah State University’s College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences, will attempt to answer thanks to a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.”Simply put, if your grandmother ate a poor diet, will green tea be beneficial for you or not,” Benninghoff said.Benninghoff and her two collaborators, Korry Hintze and Robert Ward, both associate professors of nutrition, dietetics and food sciences, have developed a diet that mimics typical U.S. nutrition for studies of human cancer using animal models. In this case, rodents with cancer will be studied, which will allow Benninghoff to look at the effects of the diet on multiple generations in a short period of time.Benninghoff, predicts that green tea will have a greater benefit to those mice that are exposed to the western diet than those on a healthy diet. She also believes that the more generations exposed to the western diet, the greater the risk of colon cancer in the offspring.”In the end, what we’re hoping is to be able to determine if there are certain populations that would benefit from a diet modification, an increase consumption of green tea,” Benninghoff said. She also hopes the consequences of this diet will be better understood for the benefit of future generations.Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by Utah State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

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Acupuncture holds promise for treating inflammatory disease

When acupuncture first became popular in the western hemisphere it had its doubters. It still does. But over time, through detailed observation, scientists have produced real evidence that ancient Chinese practitioners of the medical arts were onto something.Now new research documents a direct connection between the use of acupuncture and physical processes that could alleviate sepsis, a condition that often develops in hospital intensive care units, springs from infection and inflammation, and takes an estimated 250,000 lives in the United States every year.”Sepsis is the major cause of death in the hospital,” says Luis Ulloa, an immunologist at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School who led the study, which has been published by the journal Nature Medicine. “But in many cases patients don’t die because of the infection. They die because of the inflammatory disorder they develop after the infection. So we hoped to study how to control the inflammatory disorder.”The researchers already knew that stimulation of one of the body’s major nerves, the vagus nerve, triggers processes in the body that reduce inflammation, so they set out to see whether a form of acupuncture that sends a small electric current through that and other nerves could reduce inflammation and organ injury in septic mice. Ulloa explains that increasing the current magnifies the effect of needle placement, and notes that electrification is already FDA-approved for treating pain in human patients.When electroacupuncture was applied to mice with sepsis, molecules called cytokines that help limit inflammation were stimulated as predicted, and half of those mice survived for at least a week. There was zero survival among mice that did not receive acupuncture.Ulloa and his team then probed further, to figure out exactly why the acupuncture treatments had succeeded. And they made a discovery that, on its face, was very disappointing. They found that when they removed adrenal glands — which produce hormones in the body — the electroacpuncture stopped working. …

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