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. …

Read more

New EMS system dramatically improves survival from cardiac arrest

A new system that sent patients to designated cardiac receiving centers dramatically increased the survival rate of victims of sudden cardiac arrest in Arizona, according to a study published online in Annals of Emergency Medicine.”We knew lives would be saved if the hospitals implemented the latest cutting edge guidelines for post-cardiac arrest care and we were able to get cardiac arrest patients to those hospitals, similar to what is done for Level 1 trauma patients,” said lead study author Daniel Spaite, MD, Director of EMS Research at the University of Arizona Emergency Medicine Research Center in Phoenix and Tucson and a professor and distinguished chair of emergency medicine at the University of Arizona College of Medicine. “Taking these patients directly to a hospital optimally prepared to treat cardiac arrest gave patients a better chance of survival and of preventing neurologic damage, a common result of these cardiac events.”Under the study, 31 hospitals, serving about 80 percent of the state’s population, were designated as cardiac receiving centers between December 2007 and November 2010. Approximately 55 emergency medicine service agencies also participated in the study.The study shows that the survival rate increased by more than 60 percent during the four-year period of the study, from 2007 to 2010. More importantly, when the results were adjusted for the various factors that significantly impact survival (such as age and how quickly the EMS system got to the patients after their arrest), the likelihood of surviving an arrest more than doubled. In addition, the likelihood of surviving with good neurological status also more than doubled.This statewide effort was accomplished through the Save Hearts Arizona Registry and Education-SHARE Program, a partnership involving the Arizona Department of Health Services, the University of Arizona, over 30 hospitals and more than 100 fire departments and EMS agencies. The SHARE Program is part of a network of statewide cardiac resuscitation programs dedicated to improving cardiac arrest survival and working together as the HeartRescue Project.”We worked closely with the hospitals around the state to implement these Guidelines and then formally recognized the hospitals as Cardiac Receiving Centers (CRCs) ,” said Ben Bobrow, MD, Medical Director of the Bureau of Emergency Medicine Services and Trauma System for the Arizona Department of Health Services in Phoenix, Ariz. “We then developed protocols for our EMS agencies to transport post-cardiac arrest patients to those centers. Our overarching goal was to have more cardiac arrest victims leave the hospital in good shape and be able to return to their families and careers. As we suspected, ‘regionalizing’ the care for these critically-ill patients markedly increased their likelihood of survival and good neurologic outcome.”Dr. Bobrow, who is also a professor of emergency medicine at the University of Arizona College of Medicine-Phoenix and an emergency physician at Maricopa Medical Center, said the study shows that just transporting these patients to the nearest emergency department does not maximize the likelihood of a positive outcome. …

Read more

Epigenetic changes can drive cancer, study shows

Cancer has long been thought to be primarily a genetic disease, but in recent decades scientists have come to believe that epigenetic changes — which don’t change the DNA sequence but how it is ‘read’ — also play a role in cancer. In particular DNA methylation, the addition of a methyl group (or molecule), is an epigenetic switch that can stably turn off genes, suggesting the potential to cause cancer just as a genetic mutation can. Until now, however, direct evidence that DNA methylation drives cancer formation was lacking.Researchers at the USDA/ARS Children’s Nutrition Research Center at Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital have now created a mouse model providing the first in vivo evidence that epigenetic alterations alone can cause cancer. Their report appears in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.”We knew that epigenetic changes are associated with cancer, but didn’t know whether these were a cause or consequence of cancer. Developing this new approach for ‘epigenetic engineering’ allowed us to test whether DNA methylation changes alone can drive cancer,” said Dr. Lanlan Shen, associate professor of pediatrics at Baylor and senior author of the study.Shen and colleagues focused on p16, a gene that normally functions to prevent cancer but is commonly methylated in a broad spectrum of human cancers. They devised an approach to engineer DNA methylation specifically to the mouse p16 regulatory region (promoter). As intended, the engineered p16 promoter acted as a ‘methylation magnet’. As the mice reached adulthood, gradually increasing p16 methylation led to a higher incidence of spontaneous cancers, and reduced survival.”This is not only the first in vivo evidence that epigenetic alteration alone can cause cancer,” said Shen. “This also has profound implications for future studies, because epigenetic changes are potentially reversible. …

Read more

First peanut genome sequenced

The International Peanut Genome Initiative — a group of multinational crop geneticists who have been working in tandem for the last several years — has successfully sequenced the peanut’s genome.Scott Jackson, director of the University of Georgia Center for Applied Genetic Technologies in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, serves as chair of the International Peanut Genome Initiative, or IPGI.The new peanut genome sequence will be available to researchers and plant breeders across the globe to aid in the breeding of more productive and more resilient peanut varieties.Peanut, known scientifically as Arachis hypogaea and also called groundnut, is important both commercially and nutritionally. While the oil- and protein-rich legume is seen as a cash crop in the developed world, it remains a valuable sustenance crop in developing nations.”The peanut crop is important in the United States, but it’s very important for developing nations as well,” Jackson said. “In many areas, it is a primary calorie source for families and a cash crop for farmers.”Globally, farmers tend about 24 million hectares of peanuts each year and produce about 40 million metric tons.”Improving peanut varieties to be more drought-, insect- and disease-resistant can help farmers in developed nations produce more peanuts with fewer pesticides and other chemicals and help farmers in developing nations feed their families and build more secure livelihoods,” said plant geneticist Rajeev Varshney of the International Crops Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics in India, who serves on the IPGI.The effort to sequence the peanut genome has been underway for several years. While peanuts were successfully bred for intensive cultivation for thousands of years, relatively little was known about the legume’s genetic structure because of its complexity, according to Peggy Ozias-Akins, a plant geneticist on the UGA Tifton campus who also works with the IPGI and is director of the UGA Institute of Plant Breeding, Genetics and Genomics.”Until now, we’ve bred peanuts relatively blindly, as compared to other crops,” said IPGI plant geneticist David Bertioli of the Universidade de Braslia. “We’ve had less information to work with than we do with many crops, which have been more thoroughly researched and understood.”The peanut in fields today is the result of a natural cross between two wild species, Arachis duranensis and Arachis ipaensis, which occurred in north Argentina between 4,000 and 6,000 years ago. Because its ancestors were two different species, today’s peanut is a polyploid, meaning the species can carry two separate genomes, designated A and B subgenomes.To map the peanut’s structure, researchers sequenced the genomes of the two ancestral parents because together they represent the cultivated peanut. The sequences provide researchers access to 96 percent of all peanut genes in their genomic context, providing the molecular map needed to more quickly breed drought- and disease-resistant, lower-input and higher-yielding varieties of peanuts.The two ancestor wild species had been collected in nature, conserved in germplasm banks and then used by the IPGI to better understand the peanut genome. The genomes of the two ancestor species provide excellent models for the genome of the cultivated peanut. A. duranenis serves as a model for the A subgenome of the cultivated peanut while A. …

Read more

Amazon Studied to Predict Impact of Climate Change

Three extreme weather events in the Amazon Basin in the last decade are giving scientists an opportunity to make observations that will allow them to predict the impacts of climate change and deforestation on some of the most important ecological processes and ecosystem services of the Amazon River wetlands.Scientists from Virginia Tech, the Woods Hole Research Center, and the University of California, Santa Barbara, funded by NASA, are collaborating with Brazilian scientists to explore the ecosystem consequences of the extreme droughts of 2005 and 2010 and the extreme flood of 2009.”The research fills an important gap in our understanding of the vulnerability of tropical river-forest systems to changes in climate and land cover,” said the project’s leader, Leandro Castello, assistant professor of fish and wildlife conservation in Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment.The huge study area encompasses 1.7 million square miles, the equivalent of half of the continental United States.In addition to historical records and ground observations, the researchers will use newly available Earth System Data Records from NASA — satellite images of the Amazon and its tributaries over the complete high- and low-water cycles.NASA is funding the study with a $1.53 million grant shared among the three institutions.”Amazon floodplains and river channels — maintained by seasonal floods — promote nutrient cycling and high biological production, and support diverse biological communities as well as human populations with one of the highest per capita rates of fish consumption,” said Castello.The researchers will look at how the natural seasonality of river levels influences aquatic and terrestrial grasses, fisheries, and forest productivity in the floodplains, and how extreme events such as floods and droughts may disturb this cycle.”We are confident that deforestation and climate change will, in the future, lead to more frequent and severe floods and droughts,” said Michael Coe, a senior scientist at the Woods Hole Research Center. “It is important that we understand how the Amazon River and ecosystem services such as fisheries are affected so that we can devise mitigation strategies.”Amazonian grasses, sometimes called macrophytes, convert atmospheric carbon to plant biomass, which is then processed by aquatic microorganisms upon decomposition.”Terrestrial grasses grow during the short window when water levels are low, sequestering some carbon, and then die when the floods arrive, releasing the carbon into the aquatic system,” said Thiago Silva, an assistant professor of geography at So Paulo State University in Rio Claro, Brazil. “They are followed by aquatic grasses that need to grow extremely fast to surpass the rising floods and then die off during the receding-water period.””Although most of the macrophyte carbon is released back to the atmosphere in the same form that it is assimilated, carbon dioxide, some of it is actually exported to the ocean as dissolved carbon or released to the atmosphere as methane, a gas that has a warming potential 20 times larger than carbon dioxide,” said John Melack, a professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara.Researchers will measure plant growth and gas exchange, and use photographs from the field and satellites.Two other Amazon resources — fisheries and forests — are important to the livelihood of the people of the region.”We will combine water level, fishing effort, and fish life-history traits to understand the impact of droughts and floods on fishery yields,” said Castello, whose specialty is Amazon fisheries. “Floods in the Amazon are almost a blessing because in some years they can almost double the amount of fish in the river that is available for fishermen and society.”The fishery data include approximately 90,000 annual interview records of fisheries activities on the number of fishers, time spent fishing, characteristics of fishing boats and gear used, and weight of the catch for 40 species. The hydrological data include daily water level measurements recorded in the Madeira, Purus, and Amazonas-Solimes rivers.The researchers will examine the potential impact of future climate scenarios on the extent and productivity of floodplain forests — those enriched by rising waters, called whitewater river forests, and nutrient-poor blackwater river forests.For example, extreme droughts may reduce productivity due to water stress and increases in the frequency and severity of forest fires. Prolonged periods of inundation, on the other hand, may decrease productivity or increase mortality due to water-logging stress.”We will evaluate these responses for the first time at a regional scale using remotely sensed indicators of vegetation condition and fire-induced tree mortality to measure the response of floodplain forests to inter-annual flood variability and extreme climate events,” said Marcia Macedo, a research associate at the Woods Hole Research Center.Researchers will measure tree litter dry weight, depth of flooding, tree height and diameter, and stand density. They will also use photographs and satellite images.Previous research has focused on Amazon upland forests and the potential impacts of deforestation, fire, and drought. The research team will compare new greenhouse gas simulations to previous simulations.”Our research informs large river ecology globally because natural flowing rivers like the Amazon are rare these days, and most research to date, being done in North America and Europe, has focused on degraded systems,” Castello said.

Read more

Misleading mineral may have resulted in overestimate of water in moon

The amount of water present in the moon may have been overestimated by scientists studying the mineral apatite, says a team of researchers led by Jeremy Boyce of the UCLA Department of Earth, Planetary and Space Sciences.Boyce and his colleagues created a computer model to accurately predict how apatite would have crystallized from cooling bodies of lunar magma early in the moon’s history. Their simulations revealed that the unusually hydrogen-rich apatite crystals observed in many lunar rock samples may not have formed within a water-rich environment, as was originally expected.This discovery has overturned the long-held assumption that the hydrogen in apatite is a good indicator of overall lunar water content.”The mineral apatite is the most widely used method for estimating the amount of water in lunar rocks, but it cannot be trusted,” said Boyce, who is an adjunct assistant professor in the UCLA College of Letters and Science. “Our new results show that there is not as much water in lunar magma as apatite would have us believe.”The research was published online March 20 in the journal Science on and will be published in a future print edition.For decades, scientists believed the moon was almost entirely devoid of water. However, the discovery of hydrogen-rich apatite within lunar rocks in 2010 seemed to hint at a more watery past. Scientists originally assumed that information obtained from a small sample of apatite could predict the original water content of a large body of magma, or even the entire moon, but Boyce’s study indicates that apatite may, in fact, be deceptive.Boyce believes the high water content within lunar apatite results from a quirk in the crystallization process rather than a water-rich lunar environment. When water is present as molten rock cools, apatite can form by incorporating hydrogen atoms into its crystal structure. However, hydrogen will be included in the newly crystallizing mineral only if apatite’s preferred building blocks, fluorine and chlorine, have been mostly exhausted.”Early-forming apatite is so fluorine-rich that it vacuums all the fluorine out of the magma, followed by chlorine,” Boyce said. “Apatite that forms later doesn’t see any fluorine or chlorine and becomes hydrogen-rich because it has no choice.”Therefore, when fluorine and chlorine become depleted, a cooling body of magma will shift from forming hydrogen-poor apatite to forming hydrogen-rich apatite, with the latter not accurately reflecting the original water content in the magma.Understanding the story of lunar apatite has implications beyond determining how much water is locked inside lunar rocks and soil. According to the predominant theory of how the moon originally formed, hydrogen and other volatile elements should not be present at all in lunar rocks.Many scientists theorize that the moon formed when a giant impact tore free a large chunk of Earth more than 4 billion years ago. If this “giant impact” model is correct, the moon would have been completely molten, and lighter elements such as hydrogen should have bubbled to the surface and escaped into space. …

Read more

Eating seven or more portions of fruit and vegetables a day reduces your risk of death by 42 percent

Eating seven or more portions of fruit and vegetables a day reduces your risk of death at any point in time by 42% compared to eating less than one portion, reports a new UCL study.Researchers used the Health Survey for England to study the eating habits of 65,226 people representative of the English population between 2001 and 2013, and found that the more fruit and vegetables they ate, the less likely they were to die at any age. Eating seven or more portions reduces the specific risks of death by cancer and heart disease by 25% and 31% respectively. The research also showed that vegetables have significantly higher health benefits than fruit.This is the first study to link fruit and vegetable consumption with all-cause, cancer and heart disease deaths in a nationally-representative population, the first to quantify health benefits per-portion, and the first to identify the types of fruit and vegetable with the most benefit.Compared to eating less than one portion of fruit and vegetables, the risk of death by any cause is reduced by 14% by eating one to three portions, 29% for three to five portions, 36% for five to seven portions and 42% for seven or more. These figures are adjusted for sex, age, cigarette smoking, social class, Body Mass Index, education, physical activity and alcohol intake, and exclude deaths within a year of the food survey.The study, published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, found that fresh vegetables had the strongest protective effect, with each daily portion reducing overall risk of death by 16%. Salad contributed to a 13% risk reduction per portion, and each portion of fresh fruit was associated with a smaller but still significant 4% reduction.”We all know that eating fruit and vegetables is healthy, but the size of the effect is staggering,” says Dr Oyinlola Oyebode of UCL’s Department of Epidemiology & Public Health, lead author of the study. “The clear message here is that the more fruit and vegetables you eat, the less likely you are to die at any age. Vegetables have a larger effect than fruit, but fruit still makes a real difference. If you’re happy to snack on carrots or other vegetables, then that is a great choice but if you fancy something sweeter, a banana or any fruit will also do you good.”The findings lend support to the Australian government’s ‘Go for 2 + 5’ guidelines, which recommend eating two portions of fruit and five of vegetables. The UK Department of Health recommends ‘5 a day’, while ‘Fruit and Veggies — More Matters’ is the key message in the USA.”Our study shows that people following Australia’s ‘Go for 2 + 5’ advice will reap huge health benefits,” says Dr Oyebode. “However, people shouldn’t feel daunted by a big target like seven. …

Read more

Earth’s dynamic interior: Multiple compositional components of Earth’s deep mantle carried up to surface

Seeking to better understand the composition of the lowermost part of Earth’s mantle, located nearly 2,900 kilometers (1,800 miles) below the surface, a team of Arizona State University researchers has developed new simulations that depict the dynamics of deep Earth. A paper published March 30 in Nature Geoscience reports the team’s findings, which could be used to explain the complex geochemistry of lava from hotspots such as Hawaii.Mantle convection is the driving force behind continental drift and causes earthquakes and volcanoes on the surface. Through mantle convection, material from the lowermost part of Earth’s mantle could be carried up to the surface, which offers insight into the composition of the deep Earth. Earth’s core is very hot (~4000 K) and rocks at the core mantle boundary are heated and expand to have a lower density. These hot rocks (also called mantle plumes) could migrate to the surface because of buoyancy.Observations, modeling and predictions have indicated that the deepest mantle is compositionally complex and continuously churning and changing.”The complex chemical signatures of hotspot basalts provide evidence that the composition of the lowermost part of Earth’s mantle is different from other parts. The main question driving this research is how mantle plumes and different compositional components in Earth’s mantle interact with each other, and how that interaction leads to the complex chemistry of hotspot basalts. The answer to this question is very important for us to understand the nature of mantle convection,” explains lead author Mingming Li, who is pursuing his Ph.D. in geological sciences.”Obviously, we cannot go inside of Earth to see what is happening there. However, the process of mantle convection should comply with fundamental physics laws, such as conservation of mass, momentum and energy. What we have done is to simulate the process of mantle convection by solving the equations which controls the process of mantle convection,” says Li.It has long been suggested that Earth’s mantle contains several different compositional reservoirs, including an ancient more-primitive reservoir at the lowermost mantle, recycled oceanic crust and depleted background mantle. …

Read more

Number of babies mom has may play role in future cardiovascular health

Women who give birth to four or more children are much more likely to have evidence of plaque in their heart or thickening of their arteries — early signs of cardiovascular disease — compared with those having fewer pregnancies, according to research to be presented at the American College of Cardiology’s 63rd Annual Scientific Session.While earlier studies have shown an association between several aspects of pregnancy — physiological changes, complications, number of pregnancies — and future heart disease risk, many questions remain about how pregnancy might affect cardiovascular risk. To better understand the potential link, researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center set out to determine whether the number of live births is associated with early signs of cardiovascular disease.”This is not a recommendation for women to only have two or three children,” said Monika Sanghavi, M.D., chief cardiology fellow, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, and lead investigator of the study. This is the first study to look at two markers of subclinical atherosclerosis — a gradual narrowing and hardening of the arteries that can eventually block blood flow and lead to stroke and heart attack.”Our findings add to the growing body of evidence that the changes associated with pregnancy may provide insight into a woman’s future cardiovascular risk and deserves further attention.”The study included 1,644 women from the Dallas Heart Study, a multiethnic population-based cohort, who had both self-reported information about the number of live births and relevant imaging study data available. The average age at the time of analysis was 45 years and slightly more than half of the women (55 percent) were African-American. Coronary artery calcium (CAC) scores were measured using computed tomography imaging and aortic wall thickness (AWT) by magnetic resonance imaging to determine whether or not women had evidence of subclinical atherosclerosis in the heart and artery walls. CAC was positive if it was greater than 10 and AWT was abnormal if it was greater than the 75th percentile for age and gender. These tests were done as part of standard subject participation in the Dallas Heart Study.Using women who had two or three live births as a reference, women who had given birth to four or more children had an approximately two-fold increased risk of having abnormal CAC or AWT. This association remained even after adjusting for socioeconomic status, education, race and factors known to heighten the risk of cardiovascular disease. Women who had more babies were more likely to be older, Hispanic, have high blood pressure, higher body mass index and lower socioeconomic status.Curiously, women who had zero or just one live birth were also more likely to show evidence of subclinical atherosclerosis — revealing a U-shaped relationship.Authors say it is unclear why this might be the case. But Sanghavi and others speculate they may have captured some women in this group who have an underlying condition that prevents them from carrying a first or second pregnancy to term, which may also predispose them to cardiovascular disease or risk factors. …

Read more

Medication does not reduce risk of recurrent cardiac events among patients with diabetes

Use of the drug aleglitazar, which has shown the ability to lower glucose levels and have favorable effects on cholesterol, did not reduce the risk of cardiovascular death, heart attack or stroke among patients with type 2 diabetes and recent heart attack or unstable angina, according to a JAMA study released online to coincide with presentation at the 2014 American College of Cardiology Scientific Sessions.Cardiovascular disease remains the dominant cause of death among patients with type 2 diabetes. No drug therapy specifically directed against diabetes nor strategy for tight glucose control has been shown to unequivocally reduce the rate of cardiovascular complications in this population, according to background information in the article. In phase 2 trials, aleglitazar significantly reduced glycated hemoglobin levels (measure of blood glucose over an extended period of time), triglycerides, and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and increased high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C).A. Michael Lincoff, M.D., of the Cleveland Clinic, and colleagues conducted a phase 3 trial in which 7,226 patients hospitalized for heart attack or unstable angina with type 2 diabetes were randomly assigned to receive aleglitazar or placebo daily. The AleCardio trial was conducted in 720 hospitals in 26 countries throughout North America, Latin America, Europe, and Asia-Pacific regions.The trial was terminated early (July 2013) after an average follow-up of 104 weeks, due to lack of efficacy and a higher rate of adverse events in the aleglitazar group.The researchers found that although aleglitazar reduced glycated hemoglobin and improved serum HDL-C and triglyceride levels, the drug did not decrease the time to cardiovascular death, nonfatal heart attack, or nonfatal stroke (primary end points). These events occurred in 344 patients (9.5 percent) in the aleglitazar group and 360 patients (10.0 percent) in the placebo group.Aleglitazar use was associated with increased risk of kidney abnormalities, bone fractures, gastrointestinal bleeding, and hypoglycemia (low blood sugars).”These findings do not support the use of aleglitazar in this setting with a goal of reducing cardiovascular risk,” the authors conclude.Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by The JAMA Network Journals. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Read more

TV linked to poor snacking habits, cardiovascular risk in middle schoolers

Middle school kids who park themselves in front of the TV for two hours or more each day are more likely to consume junk food and have risk factors for cardiovascular disease, even compared to those who spend an equal amount of time on the computer or playing video games, according to research to be presented at the American College of Cardiology’s 63rd Annual Scientific Session.”While too much of both types of screen time encourages sedentary behavior, our study suggests high TV time in particular is associated with poorer food choices and increased cardiovascular risk,” said Elizabeth Jackson, M.D., M.P.H., associate professor, Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, University of Michigan Systems, Ann Arbor, Mich., and the senior author of the study.In fact, sixth-graders who reported watching between two and six hours of TV a day were more likely to have higher body mass index, elevated systolic and diastolic blood pressure and slower recovery heart rate compared with those reporting low screen time or kids who had comparable computer/video game use. This is the first time researchers have looked at the impact of different kinds of screen time kids get in relation to snacking habits and physiological measures associated with heart health, according to the authors.The study included 1,003 sixth-graders from 24 middle schools participating in Project Healthy Schools across five diverse communities in Southeast Michigan. Researchers used standardized questionnaires to collect information about health behaviors including the type and frequency of screen time, snacking habits, and food and beverage choices in the last 24 hours. Physiological measurements were also assessed, including blood pressure, cholesterol, heart rate recovery after exercise (a marker of fitness), height and weight. Students were divided into three groups: low screen time (less than one-half hour a day), high TV time (two to six hours a day) and high computer/video games (two to six hours a day). Self-reported snack behavior and physiologic markers were then compared.The research found that kids who spent more time in front of a screen — regardless of the type — snack more frequently and are more likely to choose less healthy snacks. High TV viewers and computer/video game users both reported eating roughly 3.5 snacks a day — one full snack more than kids who had minimal exposure to these technologies. But children who watched two to six hours a day of TV were more likely than the high computer/video game group to eat high-fat foods such as French fries and chips.Jackson said this is likely because these kids are bombarded by TV commercials that tend to reinforce less healthy foods — often higher in sugar, salt and fats. In addition, kids tend to have free hands while watching TV as opposed to when they are on the computer or playing video games, which provides more opportunity for mindless snacking. Earlier studies have also shown that children tend to eat more when they watch TV.”Snacks are important, and choosing a piece of fruit rather than a bag of chips can make a really big difference for one’s health,” Jackson said. …

Read more

Understanding plant-soil interaction could lead to new ways to combat weeds

Using high-powered DNA-based tools, a recent study at the University of Illinois identified soil microbes that negatively affect ragweed and provided a new understanding of the complex relationships going on beneath the soil surface between plants and microorganisms.”Plant scientists have been studying plant-soil feedback for decades,” said U of I microbial ecologist Tony Yannarell. “Some microbes are famous for their ability to change the soil, such as the microbes that are associated with legumes — we knew about those bacteria. But now we have the ability to use high-power DNA fingerprinting tools to look at all of the microbes in the soil, beyond just the ones we’ve known about. We were able to look at an entire microbial community and identify those microbes that both preferred ragweed and affected its growth.”Although it would seem that the logical conclusion would be to simply add anti-ragweed microbes to soil, Yannarell said that adding microbes to soil hasn’t been successful in the past. An effective strategy, however, to suppress weeds might be to use plants that are known to attract the microbes that are bad for ragweed, and in so doing, encourage the growth of a microbial community that will kill it.The study used Manhattan, Kan. (sunflower) and Urbana, Ill. (ragweed) and conducted trials independently at agricultural research facilities in Michigan, Illinois, Kansas, South Dakota, and Oregon, using local soils gathered on site. These particular weeds were selected because ragweed is a more common weed east of the Mississippi and sunflower is more common in the West.The experiment allowed Yannarell and his colleagues to observe how three generations of ragweed and sunflower interacted with the microbial community in the soil. The plants interact with each other indirectly due to the differing effects they each have on the microbes in the soil.”We used the same soil continuously so it had a chance to be changed,” Yannarell said. “We let the plants do the manipulation.”Interestingly, they did not find the same ragweed-preferring microbe across all five states. …

Read more

Exercise training improves health outcomes of women with heart disease more than of men

In the largest study to ever investigate the effects of exercise training in patients with heart failure, exercise training reduced the risk for subsequent all-cause mortality or all-cause hospitalization in women by 26 percent, compared with 10 percent in men. While a causal relationship has previously been observed in clinical practice between improved health outcomes and exercise, this trial is the first to link the effects of exercise training to health outcomes in women with cardiovascular disease. This study, an exploratory analysis, recently was published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology: Heart Failure.”This trial was uniquely positioned to review results of exercise training in women compared with men since we included a pre-specified analysis of women, we used the largest testing database ever acquired of women and the population was optimized with medical therapy,” said Ileana Pia, M.D., M.P.H., associate chief, Academic Affairs, Division of Cardiology, Montefiore Medical Center, professor of Medicine and Epidemiology & Population Health, Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University, the NHLBI-sponsored clinical trial investigator and chair of the Steering Committee. “Heart disease has a major impact on women. Our goal is for these findings to greatly impact the management of this challenging syndrome.”Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the United States, responsible for one-in-four female deaths. Although women are twice as likely as men to develop heart failure following heart attack or cardiac ischemia, they are less often directed to complete an exercise program.Women with cardiovascular disease are largely underrepresented in past exercise research, and no large trial has previously studied the impact of exercise training on health outcomes for women with heart failure. The randomized, multicenter, international HF-ACTION (The Heart Failure — A Controlled Trial Investigating Outcomes of Exercise Training) trial included the largest cohort of women with heart failure to undergo exercise training, and examined potential gender differences that could affect physical exercise prescription.”These findings are significant because they represent important implications for clinical practice and patient behaviors,” said Dr. Pia. “Findings suggest physicians should consider exercise as a component of treatment for female patients with heart failure, as they do for male patients.”The clinical trial randomized 2,331 patients with heart failure and a left ventricular ejection fraction of less than or equal to 35 percent to either a formal exercise program plus optimal medical therapy, or to optimal medical therapy alone. Prior to randomization, patients underwent symptom-limited cardiopulmonary exercise tests to assess exercise capacity, as measured by peak oxygen uptake (VO2). …

Read more

Strictly limiting hours surgical residents can work has not improved patient safety

Strictly limiting the number of hours surgical residents can work has not improved patient outcomes but may have increased complications for some patients and led to higher failure rates on certification exams, a research paper concludes.Traditionally, doctors in the residency phase of their training spent very long hours in a hospital — often around-the-clock — so they could see a wide variety and high volume of patients. In the last 10 years, health authorities started limiting those hours in the hopes of improving patient safety and the education and well-being of doctors.In 2003, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education in the United States limited residents’ hours to 80 per week. In 2011, the council prohibited first-year residents from working 24 shifts.In Canada, on-call shifts were limited to 16 hours in Quebec after a provincial arbitrator ruled that in 2011 that a 24-hour on-call shift posed a danger to residents’ health and violated the Charter of Rights. Last year a National Steering Committee on Resident Duty Hours said the status quo was unacceptable and that shifts of 24 hours or longer without sleep should be avoided. It urged all provinces and health care institutions to develop comprehensive strategies to minimize fatigue and fatigue-related risks during residency.Dr. Najma Ahmad, a trauma surgeon at St. Michael’s Hospital who was a member of the national group, published a paper today in the Annals of Surgery that found the too-restricted hours may work for some residents, but not for surgical residents.”A one-size fits all approach to resident duty hours may not be appropriate for all specialties,” said Dr. Ahmed, noting that the American College of Surgeons Division of education has stated that mastery in surgery requires “extensive and immersive experiences.”She said the emphasis should be on reducing the amount of non-educational work residents do and to find ways to manage fatigue such as making sure they get enough uninterrupted sleep. Dr. Ahmed, who is also director of the University of Toronto’s General Surgery Program, conducted a meta-analysis of 135 articles on the impact of resident duty hours on clinical and educational outcomes in surgery.”In surgery, recent changes in hours for residents are not consistently associated with improved resident well-being and may have negative impacts on patient outcomes and performance on certification exams,” she said.Dr. …

Read more

Light-activated antimicrobial surface that also works in the dark: World’s first

Researchers at UCL have developed a new antibacterial material which has potential for cutting hospital acquired infections. The combination of two simple dyes with nanoscopic particles of gold is deadly to bacteria when activated by light — even under modest indoor lighting. And in a first for this type of substance, it also shows impressive antibacterial properties in total darkness.The research, from by Sacha Noimark and Ivan Parkin (both UCL Chemistry) and Elaine Allan (UCL Eastman Dental Institute), is published today in the journal Chemical Science.Hospital-acquired infections are a major issue for modern medicine, with pathogens like methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Clostridium difficile (C. diff) getting extensive publicity. Although medical establishments have stringent cleaning policies, insist on frequent hand-washing by staff, and have powerful drugs at their disposal, it is difficult to eliminate these infections unless you can make the hospital environment more hostile to microbes. Surfaces, such as door handles, medical equipment, keyboards, pens and so on are an easy route for germs to spread, even onto freshly-cleaned hands.One possible solution to this is to develop alternative strategies such as antibacterial coatings that make surfaces less accommodating to germs. These surfaces are not like antibacterial fluids that just wash away — the goal is to make a surface which is intrinsically deadly to harmful bacteria.”There are certain dyes that are known to be harmful to bacteria when subjected to bright light,” explains the study’s corresponding author Ivan Parkin (Head of UCL Chemistry). “The light excites electrons in them, promoting the dye molecules to an excited triplet state and ultimately produces highly reactive oxygen radicals that damage bacteria cell walls. Our project tested new combinations of these dyes along with gold nanoparticles, and simplified ways of treating surfaces which could make the technology easier and cheaper to roll out.”The team, tested several different combinations of the dyes crystal violet (already used to treat staph infections), methylene blue and nanogold, deposited on the surface of silicone. This flexible rubbery substance is widely used as a sealant, a coating and to build medical apparatus such as tubes, catheters and gaskets, and can also be used as protective casings for things like keyboards and telephones.While work to create antimicrobial surfaces in the past has often concentrated on complex ways of bonding dyes to the surface, this study took a simpler approach. …

Read more

Monarch butterfly numbers could be at historic lows this year, study suggests

Monarch butterflies may be named for their large size and majestic beauty, but once again their numbers are anything but king-sized — in fact, 2014 may go down as one of the worst years ever for the colorful insects, says a Texas A&M Monarch watcher who is proposing a national effort to help feed Monarchs.Craig Wilson, a senior research associate in the Center for Mathematics and Science Education and a longtime butterfly enthusiast, says reports coming from Mexico where the Monarchs have their overwintering grounds show their numbers are significantly down yet again — so much so that this year might be one of the lowest yet for the butterfly.It’s been a disturbing trend that has been going for most of the past decade, he points out. This year, Monarchs face a triple whammy: a lingering drought, unusually cold winter temperatures and lack of milkweed, their primary food source.Citing figures from the Mexican government and the World Wildlife Fund, Wilson says, “In 1996, the Monarch breeding grounds in Mexico covered about 45 acres, and so far this year, it looks like only about 1.65 acres. That means fewer Monarchs will likely reach Texas to lay eggs, perhaps the lowest numbers ever of returning butterflies.”Wilson says the colder-than-usual winter, which set record lows in many parts of Texas and even Mexico, has had a chilling effect on Monarchs.”Unfortunately, the harsh and lingering cold conditions mean that the milkweed plants that Monarch caterpillars must have to live have yet to start growing, and these are the only plants on which they can lay eggs to provide food for their caterpillars,” he adds.Wilson says that last fall, the number of Monarchs that were netted and tagged in the College Station area was one-fifth the number tagged in 2012.The dry conditions during the past decade and changing farming practices are hampering the growth of milkweed, the only type of plant the Monarch caterpillars will digest as the multiple generational migration heads north.Texas also has had dozens of wildfires in the past few years that have hampered milkweed growth, and even though there are more than 30 types of milkweed in the state, the numbers are not there to sustain the Monarchs as they start their 2,000-mile migration trip to Canada. Increased use of pesticides is also adversely affecting milkweed production in a huge way, he notes.”The severe drought in Texas and much of the Southwest continues to wreak havoc with the number of Monarchs,” Wilson explains, adding that the wintering sites in the Mexican state of Michoacn are at near-historic lows.”The conditions have been dry both here and in Mexico in recent years. It takes four generations of the insects to make it all of the way up to Canada, and because of lack of milkweed along the way, a lot of them just don’t make it.”But if people want to help, they can pick up some milkweed plants right now at local farmer’s cooperative stores,” he says, “and this would be a small but helpful step to aid in their migration journey and to raise awareness of the plight.”Wilson says there has to be a national effort to save Monarchs or their declining numbers will reach the critical stage.”We need a national priority of planting milkweed to assure that this magical migration of Monarchs will continue for future generations,” he says.”If we could get several states to collaborate, we might be able to promote a program where the north-south interstates were planted with milkweed, such as Lady Bird Johnson’s program to plant native seeds along Texas highways 35-40 years ago. This would provide a ‘feeding’ corridor right up to Canada for the Monarchs.”Wilson is currently adding a variety of milkweed plants to the existing Cynthia Woods Mitchell Garden on the Texas A&M campus. He recommends the following sites for Monarch followers: Journey North, Texas Monarch Watch and Monarch Watch.Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by Texas A&M University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Read more

New heart failure symptom: Shortness of breath while bending over

UT Southwestern Medical Center cardiologists have defined a novel heart failure symptom in advanced heart failure patients: shortness of breath while bending over, such as when putting on shoes.The condition, which UT Southwestern cardiologists named “bendopnea” (pronounced “bend-op-nee-ah”), is an easily detectable symptom that can help doctors diagnose excessive fluid retention in patients with heart failure, according to the findings published in a recent edition of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology: Heart Failure.”Some patients thought they were short of breath because they were out of shape or overweight, but we wondered if there was something more to it. So we developed this study to further investigate this symptom,” said Dr. Jennifer Thibodeau, Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine in the Division of Cardiology.Dr. Thibodeau cautions that bendopnea is not a risk factor for heart failure, but rather a symptom that heart failure patients are becoming sicker and may need to have their medications or treatments adjusted.Bendopnea is a way for both doctors and patients to recognize something may be amiss with their current heart failure treatment. Patients should speak with their cardiologist or health care provider if they experience bendopnea, notes Dr. Thibodeau.Of the 5.7 million Americans living with heart failure, about 10 percent have advanced heart failure, according to the American Heart Association. The condition is considered advanced when conventional heart therapies and symptom management strategies no longer work.UT Southwestern doctors enrolled 102 patients who were referred to the cardiac catheterization lab for right heart catheterization and found that nearly one-third of the subjects had bendopnea.When the patients were lying flat, clinicians measured both the pressures within the heart as well as the cardiac output — how well the heart is pumping blood to the rest of the body — in all 102 patients. Then, they repeated these measurements in 65 patients after they were sitting in a chair for two minutes, and then bending over for one minute.”We discovered that patients with bendopnea had too much fluid in their bodies, causing elevated pressures, and when they bent forward, these pressures increased even more,” said Dr. Thibodeau, first author of the study.Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by UT Southwestern Medical Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Read more

Anesthetic technique improves quality of recovery for women having breast cancer surgery

Anesthesiologists using a technique similar to a dental freeze can improve the quality of recovery and decrease recovery time for breast cancer surgery patients, according to a new study.The study, from researchers at St. Michael’s Hospital and Women’s College Hospital, was published in the March edition of Anesthesiology. It is the world’s first randomized control trial for breast cancer surgery that compares the use of ultrasound-guided paravertebral blocks – a local anesthetic freezing that blocks breast nerves – to general anesthetic. The findings reveal that breast cancer patients who received local anesthetic had superior pain relief, spent less time in recovery rooms after surgery, and were discharged an hour earlier than patients who were put under general anesthesia.”Real time, image-guided ultrasound nerve blocks have revolutionized the practice of regional anesthesia,” said Dr. Faraj Abdallah, an anesthesiologist at St. Michael’s Hospital and lead author of the study. “This is the first study to show how effective these ultrasound-guided blocks can now be for breast cancer surgery. Even more importantly, we’ve been able to demonstrate that blocks help patients feel better and return to their normal levels of mental and physical functionality sooner after surgery.”Dr. Abdallah conducted this randomized controlled trial of 64 women at Women’s College Hospital, the first Canadian site to complete a study where this image-guided technique was used in breast cancer surgery. Because of its demonstrated benefits and the addition of Dr. …

Read more

Lack of sleep, stress describe a mother’s experience after child’s ALL treatment

“It’s a whole new cancer world” and “I don’t remember what it’s like to have sleep” were the most common themes of mothers interviewed by University of Colorado Cancer Center researchers during the maintenance period after a child’s treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). Results of this qualitative study are published in a recent issue of the Journal of Pediatric Nursing.A second study, published today in the Journal of Pediatric Oncology Nursing, shows the quantitative differences between stress, anxiety and depression in these parents of chronically ill children and parents of healthy children. Many months after their child’s diagnosis and treatment, 46 percent of mothers exhibited symptoms of clinical anxiety and 26 percent of mothers showed depressive symptoms.”Even though these mothers were in the maintenance phase of their child’s illness and the prognosis was good, we heard them say over and over that things could never go back to what they were before,” says Madalynn Neu, PhD, RN, assistant professor at the CU College of Nursing, an education partner of the CU Cancer Center.”Many had lost their normal lives — lost jobs, houses, friends. Some were juggling their time around their child’s needs and they had fears about many things — fear of recurrence, fear of making a mistake with medication, fear their kids might get sick with an infection,” says Ellen Matthews, PhD, RN, CU Cancer Center investigator and associate professor at the CU College of Nursing.The researchers explain that they chose to work with mothers in this maintenance period of relative stability following treatment so as to avoid making further demands on mothers during the acute period of their child’s illness. This allowed Neu, Matthews and colleagues to look at the mid- and longer-term effects of a child’s diagnosis on a mother’s wellbeing. For example, the researchers found that once sleep arrangements changed during a child’s treatment, they frequently stayed changed rather than going back to what parents had seen as “normal” before treatment.”Mothers talked about the difficulty of sleep while giving steroid medication. And if the ill child got to stay up late watching movies, the siblings wanted to stay up too. The same was true of sleeping in a parent’s room: if an ill child wanted to sleep close to a parent (or if a parent wanted to sleep close to an ill child!), siblings tended to move in as well. Sleep can be challenging for parents of well children and our studies show it’s even more so for parents of children who have experience ALL,” Neu says.Interestingly, the researchers point out that while depression and stress was higher in mothers of children treated for ALL, anxiety levels as measured by salivary cortisol levels were similar to mothers of well children.”This may have been affected by the fact that even the control group wasn’t without anxiety. Financial, marital, social and career concerns mean that parents of young children experience anxiety even without ALL,” Matthews says.The group hopes that awareness of maternal concerns after a child’s treatment for ALL will help design interventions that will help mothers manage these lifestyle issues affected by their child’s illness.Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by University of Colorado Denver. …

Read more

Education ‘protects’ poor women from fattening effects of rising wealth

Obesity levels among women in low- and middle-income countries tend to rise in line with wealth as they purchase more energy-dense foods, but a new UCL study suggests that more educated consumers make better food choices that mitigate this effect.The study showed that in middle-income countries, obesity levels among women with secondary or higher education are 14-19% lower than less-educated women of similar wealth.The research, published in PLOS ONE, looked at the relationships between obesity, education and wealth in over 250,000 people across four middle-income and three low-income countries between 2005 and 2010. More educated people are typically wealthier, and this study was the first to isolate the effects of education and wealth to unpick their distinct effects.Each household’s “wealth index” was measured by evaluating their possessions, housing situation and access to basic amenities. Based on these criteria, they were divided into five wealth brackets on a scale of 1-5, from richest to poorest, in each country.The middle-income countries examined were Egypt, Jordan, Peru and Colombia. In Egypt, where 43% of the 32,272 women surveyed were obese, the effect of wealth on obesity was reduced as education levels increased. The increased risk of obesity associated with a rise in wealth bracket was 39% for women with primary education or below, 25% for women with secondary education and only 2% for women with higher education.”For the first time, we have studied the interaction between wealth and education and found that they have fundamentally different effects on obesity,” says lead author Dr Amina Aitsi-Selmi, Wellcome Trust fellow at UCL. “As emerging economies are exposed to a flood of calories from the global food market, rising wealth often leads to rising obesity as people buy energy-dense foods.”Our study suggests that investing in women’s education protects against this effect by empowering individuals to look after their health. However, it is not a substitute for good public health systems and the regulation of commercial activity such as the aggressive marketing that puts pressure on individuals to consume unhealthy products and take unnecessary risks with their health.”In the low-income countries of India, Nigeria and Benin, the relationship between education and wealth was more difficult to unpick. In India, where only 2.8% of the 113,063 women surveyed were obese, wealth had a profound impact on the risk of obesity. For each increase in wealth bracket, the risk of obesity increased by 123%.”The jump in obesity risk that people in low-income countries experience as they become wealthier is likely related to the environment of scarcity,” explains Dr Aitsi-Selmi. “The weight of scientific evidence that we have leaves no doubt that the environment we live in is largely responsible for the obesity epidemic.”Story Source:The above story is based on materials provided by University College London. …

Read more

Utilizzando il sito, accetti l'utilizzo dei cookie da parte nostra. maggiori informazioni

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.

Close