Physical activity in parks can been boosted by modest marketing

Oct. 17, 2013 — Modest increases in marketing and outreach to local communities can increase the amount of physical activity that occurs in parks, providing a cost-effective way to potentially improve a community’s health, according to a new RAND Corporation study.The project, which examined 50 parks across Los Angeles, found that simple interventions such as increased signage boosted physical activity by 7 to 12 percent over the study period in relation to parks that did not make changes. The findings are published online by the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.”The study shows that environmental cues influence and change individual behavior, including physical behavior,” said Dr. Deborah A. Cohen, the study’s lead author and a senior natural scientist at RAND, a nonprofit research organization. “When physical activity opportunities and reminders become more obvious, whether they are overt signs or notices for classes or new walking paths, they may lead people to becoming more active, especially if they are already in a park.”Although most Americans live in a community with a network of parks and recreation facilities suited to exercise, most do not meet the national guidelines for physical activity. Those recommendations suggest adults engage in physical activity for 150 minutes per week, while children should do so for 60 minutes per day.An increase in physical activity among people in Finland over the past few decades has been attributed, in part, to an increased focus on local parks and sports facilities. In contrast, many U.S. municipalities — including Los Angeles — have trimmed support for public physical activity programs and parks.RAND researchers wanted to examine whether, given limited resources, parks could adjust their programming and outreach efforts to increase activity if they had better information about local use and activity preferences. The second question was whether the involvement of park advisory boards composed of community members would help improve the decisions made by park directors.To conduct the project, 50 parks in the City of Los Angeles that included a recreation center and full-time staff were randomized into three groups. …

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Millions of people in Asia potentially exposed to health risks of popular herbal medicines

Mar. 18, 2013 — Scientists from King’s College London are warning that millions of people may be exposed to risk of developing kidney failure and bladder cancer by taking herbal medicines that are widely available in Asia. The medicines, used for a wide range of conditions including slimming, asthma and arthritis, are derived from a botanical compound containing aristolochic acids. These products are now banned in the USA and many European countries but the herbs containing this toxic acid can still be bought in China and other countries in Asia and are also available worldwide over the internet.

The scientists reviewed worldwide cases of aristolochic acid nephropathy (AAN) — a type of kidney failure caused by the intake of these acids. They explain the clinical basis for the disease and propose strategies to help doctors identify it and treat patients more effectively. They suggest that there may be many thousands of cases across Asia that are undiagnosed or misdiagnosed. With the outcome of their study, the researchers hope to raise awareness of the risks of aristolochic acids and reduce the global disease burden from this severe condition.

Lead author Professor Graham Lord, Director of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust and King’s College London, said: ‘We have found evidence that many millions of people continue to be exposed to significant health risk due to these herbal medicines, widely used in China and India.’ He added: ‘There is also a striking lack of good quality evidence that might help guide the diagnosis and management of AAN.’

The paper, published in Annals of Internal Medicine, indicates that regulatory measures that have so far been adopted by national and international agencies may be inadequate in preventing harmful exposure to aristolochic acid. The compound is linked to many cases of kidney diseases and urothelial cancer, a form of cancer of which bladder cancer is the most known variant.

The authors reviewed the latest data on the epidemiology of AAN. They used several search engines to include all publications that are about or refer to aristolochic acid and Chinese herbal nephropathy and identified 42 different case studies and one trial relating to the management of the disease.

While explaining the origin and development of the disease, they propose a protocol which should make it easier to diagnose AAN. In addition, they suggest a new disease classification to help international clinicians better identify AAN patients, and draft guidelines for the treatment of these patients.

The research team consisted of an international collaboration of scientists from Belgium, Czech Republic, Germany and the UK. Dr Refik Gökmen, co-author from King’s, said: ‘This research is a great demonstration of how international scientific collaboration is vital in helping to describe how a toxin used in widely available products can lead to cancer.’

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Cholesterol sets off chaotic blood vessel growth

May 29, 2013 — A study at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine identified a protein that is responsible for regulating blood vessel growth by mediating the efficient removal of cholesterol from the cells. Unregulated development of blood vessels can feed the growth of tumors.

The work, led by Yury Miller, MD, PhD, associate professor of medicine at UC San Diego, will be published in the advance online edition of the journal Nature on May 29.

Cholesterol is a structural component of the cell and is indispensable for normal cellular function, although its excess often leads to abnormal proliferation, migration, inflammatory responses or cell death. The researchers studied how the removal of cholesterol from endothelial cells (cells that line the blood vessels) impacts the development of new blood vessels, the process called angiogenesis.

According to Miller, removal of excess cholesterol from endothelial cells is essential for restraining excessive growth of blood vessels.

“Too much cholesterol increases the abundance of lipid rafts, areas in the plasma membrane where surface receptors initiate signaling events leading to angiogenesis,” Miller said. VEGFR2 is such a receptor, playing a central role in the development of blood vessels. Research into the process of angiogenesis suggests that VEGF-induced signaling within endothelial cells is important to tumor growth.

In this study, the scientists show that apoA-I binding protein (AIBP) is secreted by surrounding tissues and facilitates cholesterol removal from endothelial cells. This process interferes with the VEGFR2 receptor function, in turn inhibiting angiogenesis.

“Studying the process in zebrafish, we found that the timing and the pattern of AIBP expression is such that it helps guide segmental arteries to grow strictly in the dorsal direction, instead of an aberrant sideways direction,” said first author Longhou Fang, who added that future studies will explore if AIBP or its derivatives can be used to inhibit pathologic angiogenesis in tumors. Alternatively, blocking AIBP activity in the heart may, in principle, stimulate re-growth of blood vessels after a heart attack.

Additional contributors to the study include Soo-Ho Choi, Ji Sun Baek, Chao Liu, Felicidad Almazan, Philipp Wiesner, Adam Taleb, Elena Deer, Jennifer Pattison and Andrew C. Li, UCSD Department of Medicine; and Florian Ulrich and Jesús Torres-Vázquez, Skirball Institute of Biomolecular Medicine at New York University Langone Medical Center.

The study was funded in part by National Institutes of Health grants HL093767, HL055798 and HL114734; a fellowship from the UC Tobacco-Related Disease Program; and a UCSD Neuroscience Microscopy Facility Grant.

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Medications to Treat Your Child’s IBD without Steroid Use

In this videos series, we address questions commonly asked by parents of children with IBD. For more information, check out our other videos on IBD at: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=… or visit: http://www.seattlechildrens.org/IBD.0:08 So what are some of the strategies that we…

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