May 08 2011
Dr. Christina Scirica, a pediatric pulmonologist at Massachusetts General Hospital, makes a point to eat dinner with her husband and two young children at least five nights a week.
The family meals make it easy to ensure everyone is getting the nutrients they need, Scirica said. She works part time now so it's easier to have family dinners, but when she was working full time she and her husband got creative.
"Having a situation where you can all be home all seven nights of a week is hard," Scirica told MyHealthNewsDaily. "Any time that works in our week works, too. Sometimes we did breakfast together. It's nice that it's also a big source of calories, so the kids can learn good eating habits."
Scirica is not the only one who thinks shared mealsare smart for kids' nutrition — research shows that shared meals are important for promoting good health in children.
Kids who eat at least three meals a week with their families are 12 percent less likely to be overweight than kids who eat with their families once a week or not at all, according to a new review of studies from researchers at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.
And kids who eat often with their families are also 30 percent less likely to regularly eat unhealthy foods and 24 percent more likely to eat healthy foods than kids who don't often share meals with their families, according to the study, published today (May 2) in the journal Pediatrics.
The analysis, which included 182,836 children ages 2 to 17, also showed that kids who ate three or more meals a week with their families were 35 percent less likely to have an eating disorder (including anorexia, bingeing and purging) than kids who ..... (article cut to save bandwidth)
May 08 2011
TOKYO (AFP) – Japan may be at the forefront of robotics and its children raised on cartoons of robot heroes and villains, but the country has so far had to rely on US-made machines for help tackling its nuclear crisis.
The massive March 11 earthquake and tsunami knocked out reactor cooling systems at the Fukushima nuclear power plant northeast of Tokyo, where workers are battling to prevent radiation leaks and a total meltdown.
Although Japan is reliant on atomic power and leads the world in developing humanoid machines and industrial robots it has not developed any robots to tackle nuclear accidents.
Plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) has sent in a pair of US-made crawler PackBot robots to examine areas where radiation from the rubble left by explosions is too high for humans to enter.
Experts say the government has not provided enough funding to develop its own specialised disaster robots, which have no commercial market.
"In the case of housekeeping robots, the market is there and so the companies can continue the development," said Hajime Asama, professor of engineering at Tokyo University and a member of a robot taskforce set up after the disaster.
"In the case of the United States, the military invests a lot of money for this kind of robot. But in Japan it is prohibited to make military robots," he said.
A mistaken belief that such a nuclear disaster would never happen in Japan is also to blame, he said.
"That's why the Japanese government did not invest sufficient money to develop this kind of robot system. They invested initial money for developing the robot system but they didn't continue," said Asama.
Fellow taskforce member Satoshi Tadokoro, professor of robotics at Tohoku University, who specialises ..... (article cut to save bandwidth)
WEDNESDAY, May 4 (HealthDay News) -- In a study that compared asthma pills against commonly prescribed inhaled steroids, British researchers found that the oral medications were as effective as the inhaled drugs.
The oral medications, known as leukotriene-receptor antagonists, "have shown similar efficacy and cost and better compliance, and should be considered for any patient, not as a last option but as an option for any patient," said study co-author Dr. Stanley Musgrove, a senior research associate at the University of East Anglia in Norwich.
"Every different patient will have their own issues that are important to their care: their compliance to different medications, how well they feel that different medications work for them, their concerns about different medications, any possible minor side effects, etcetera, and all of those should be considered when the clinician and the patient are making a decision about the best medication," he noted.
Results of the study are published in the May 5 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
The study was designed to be what the researchers call a "pragmatic" trial, which more closely mimics the way people use medications in real life as opposed to the strict rules of a clinical trial, according to Musgrove.
The researchers recruited 650 people with mild to moderate asthma. The study volunteers were between the ages of 12 and 80, and had inadequate asthma control or an impaired quality of life due to asthma symptoms.
Volunteers were randomly assigned to a group. One arm of the study compared leukotriene-receptor antagonists (Accolate and Singulair) to inhaled corticosteroids as a first-line treatment for asthma. The other arm of the study compared people who were already taking inhaled steroids who then added on either a long-acting rescue medication (known as ..... (article cut to save bandwidth)
A recently published clinical trial raises a difficult question about a popular alternative medicine treatment modality. This study was designed to ask a critical question that has bothered researchers for some time -- is the benefit that patients report with homeopathy due to the remedy treatment, the interaction with the doctor, or the placebo effect?
In this new study, a group of 56 rheumatoid arthritis patients went through one of five diagnosis and treatment paths: 1) no meeting with a doctor and a placebo pill, 2) no meeting with a doctor and a multiple remedy homeopathy pill, 3) full homeopathic workup plus a remedy chosen by the doctor, 4) full homeopathic workup plus a multiple remedy homeopathy pill, or 5) full homeopathic workup plus a placebo treatment. At the end of a roughly 6 month followup, the researchers collected objective and subjective symptom data on each patient in the study.
Overall, there were only minor differences seen in the most important measures of disease activity. There was some evidence, however, of statistically significant improvement by several of the measures used.
Where this gets interesting is that there was no clear difference between treatment outcomes among placebo, combination homeopathy product, and individually selected remedy. But the people who met with the homeopathic physician reported better levels of psychological health and were judged to have fewer symptoms by several objective measures (including overall disease activity and swollen or tender joints).
Rather than use these results to pick on the poor level of research support for the use of homeopathy as a medical intervention (this has been done several times in the past, and will likely be done again in the future), I am interested in what this means about the doctor / patient relationship. Is it possible that ..... (article cut to save bandwidth)
May 08 2011
HELENA, Montana (Reuters) – Many if not most of Montana's 4,800 medical marijuana suppliers will be forced out of business within two months under a newly passed overhaul of the state's 7-year-old law legalizing pot for medicinal purposes.
The state legislature approved the bill last week in answer to critics who said loopholes in the original 2004 medical marijuana law enacted by ballot measure were being exploited by some as a pretext for recreational pot smoking and large-scale drug trafficking.
But medical marijuana advocates say the regulatory reform bill was deliberately crafted to make it unworkable. Tom Daubert, head of the group Patients and Families United, called it "repeal in disguise."
Last month Governor Brian Schweitzer vetoed an outright repeal sent him by the Republican-controlled legislature.
Schweitzer, a Democrat in his second term, said he was unhappy with the new legislation but would allow it to become law without his signature -- it takes effect on July 1 -- because he feels the status quo is worse.
The number of Montana residents carrying cards allowing them to lawfully possess and use pot for treatment of one ailment or another has jumped from 4,000 in 2009 to nearly 30,000 this year.
Meanwhile, medical pot-growing facilities and dispensaries, many of them operating under one roof, have swelled to 4,848 statewide, according to the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services.
Over half the growers supply just one or two patients, the agency said. But all operate with little state control other than a quota that limits them to six plants per patient.
Last month, federal agents raided marijuana growers and distributors in 13 cities across Montana in a crackdown prosecutors said was aimed at supply operations that were using the medical marijuana law ..... (article cut to save bandwidth)
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (Reuters) – Alaska has the nation's highest rate of chlamydia and second-highest rate of gonorrhea as the sexually transmitted diseases spread in rural areas, according to the Alaska Division of Public Health.
A total 6,026 cases of the bacterial disease chlamydia were reported in Alaska in 2010, a 13 percent rise over the previous year. The Alaska case rate of 849 per 100,000 people is more than twice the national rate of 417, the department said.
Reported cases of gonorrhea totaled 1,273 in 2010, a 23 percent increase and counter to a national trend of reduced gonorrheal infections, the state said. Alaska's rate was 179 per 100,000 people, compared to a national rate of 99.
The high rates partly reflect Alaska's demographics, according to Susan Jones, HIV and sexually transmitted disease program coordinator for the state.
"The burden of chlamydia and gonorrhea is in the young population," Jones said. "Alaska on average has a young population compared to most states."
The diseases are also prevalent among ethnic minorities. The rural regions of the state with the worst rates of infection have largely Alaska native populations, she said.
Lack of timely treatment in those rural areas adds to the problem, Jones said.
The Alaska Medical Board recently enacted a rule change authorizing doctors to prescribe medicine to sexual partners of infected patients even if those partners are not examined, she said.
Chlamydia infections are rising nationally, though not as dramatically as in Alaska, Jones said, because the symptoms are less alarming or noticeable to those infected.
"Probably 85 percent of the people who have chlamydia will never know it," Jones said.
Even without symptoms, chlamydia can have serious consequences, including pelvic inflammatory disease leading to infertility in women, Jones ..... (article cut to save bandwidth)
TUESDAY, May 3 (HealthDay News) -- Obesity may lower levels of sexual satisfaction, especially for women, a new study shows.
Duke University researchers studied 91 obese men and 134 obese women who completed a sexual functioning questionnaire before enrolling in a weight loss study. The questionnaire covered nine areas: interest, desire, arousal, orgasm, satisfaction, behavior, relationship, masturbation and sexual problems.
"We found that there was lower sexual satisfaction and lower sexual quality of life among women than men, and overall sexual quality of life was low among both groups," Dr. Truls Ostbye, a professor in the department of community and family medicine, said in a Duke news release.
The researchers also compared the obese patients' scores to the results from a group of cancer survivors and a general population group. Obese women's scores were lower than both those groups' scores, while obese men's scores were between the scores of the cancer survivors and the general population group.
"Our findings contribute to a growing body of research that indicates obesity is associated with reduced sexual functioning and sexual quality of life among both men and women," Ostbye said.
Doctors should be aware of this issue and invite obese patients to talk about it, the researchers said.
"Obese patients welcome the opportunity to discuss the effects of their weight on quality of life, including sexual quality of life," said study co-author and clinical psychologist Ronette L. Kolotkin. "Because so many obese individuals experience discrimination and prejudice, they appreciate providers who create a warm, supportive environment in which to discuss these sensitive issues."
LONDON (Reuters) – A 35-year British scientific study has found no evidence that young children living near nuclear power plants have an increased risk of developing leukemia.
The research, conducted by scientists on the Committee of the Medical Aspects of Radiation in the Environment (COMARE) found only 20 cases of childhood leukemia within 5 km (3.1 miles) of nuclear power stations in the 35 years from 1969 to 2004.
Broadening the radius out to 25 km (15.5 miles), the scientists found only 430 cases of the disease in 35 years.
Both rates were virtually the same as in areas where there are no nuclear plants, they said, making the added risk "extremely small, if not zero."
"We've looked as best we can at the potential for radiation around nuclear power plants to cause leukemia and we've decided on the best evidence we have available that it is not the cause," Professor Alex Elliott, COMARE's chairman, told reporters in London.
Various studies have been conducted around the world into possible links between the risk of childhood blood cancers and living near nuclear plants. A study on Germany, published in 2007, did find a significantly increased risk.
The COMARE team said these findings were probably influenced by an unexplained leukemia cluster near a nuclear power plant in Krummel in northern Germany that lasted from 1990 to 2005.
Excluding Krummel, evidence for an increased leukemia risk among young children living close to German nuclear power plants was "extremely weak," it said.
Elliot's report was the 14th from COMARE and covered 13 nuclear power plant sites across Britain.
He said that, while it would be sensible to keep a "watching brief" for links between nuclear plant radiation and leukemia, it would also ..... (article cut to save bandwidth)
THURSDAY, May 5 (HealthDay News) -- Elderly black and Hispanic Americans are less likely than whites to get colorectal cancer screening, even though Medicare has expanded coverage for screening tests such as colonoscopy and fecal occult blood test, a new study has found.
Researchers examined U.S. National Cancer Institute data between 1996 and 2005 to determine rates of colorectal cancer screening among Medicare beneficiaries aged 70 to 89 with no history of any cancer.
Blacks were less likely than whites to receive colorectal cancer screening before and after Medicare provided coverage of fecal occult blood test, and after coverage of colonoscopy, according to the University of Texas School of Public Health study.
The investigators also found that Hispanics were less likely than whites to receive colorectal cancer screening after Medicare provided coverage of colonoscopy.
The study is published in the current issue of the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.
"Colorectal cancer screening increased as Medicare coverage expanded. However, screening rates were still low according to recommendations," study author Aricia White, an epidemic service officer at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in a news release from the American Association for Cancer Research.
"More efforts need to be made to increase colorectal cancer screening among all [Medicare] beneficiaries," she added.
May 08 2011
THURSDAY, May 5 (HealthDay News) -- In people with advanced kidney cancer, blood pressure appears to indicate how well their medication is working, with high blood pressure linked to longer survival, new research shows.
The finding comes from a study of 544 people being treated with the drug sunitinib (Sutent) for advanced kidney cancer. The researchers found that those whose maximum systolic blood pressure reached 140 mmHg or higher survived nearly four times longer than those who had a lower maximum systolic blood pressure -- 30.5 months vs. 7.8 months.
Systolic is the top number and diastolic the lower number in a blood pressure reading.
People who had a maximum diastolic blood pressure of 90 mmHg or greater survived twice as long as those with a lower maximum diastolic blood pressure -- 32.2 months vs. 14.9 months.
The researchers also found that progression-free survival, which refers to the amount of time when a tumor either shrinks or does not grow, was 2.5 to 5 times longer in people with high blood pressure -- 12.5 months for those with systolic hypertension vs. 2.5 months for those without, and 13.4 months for those with diastolic hypertension vs. 5.3 months for those without.
"These findings support the hypothesis that high blood pressure may act as a biomarker of a medication's anti-tumor effectiveness," study leader Dr. Brian Rini, a staff physician at the Cleveland Clinic's Taussig Cancer Institute, said in a clinic news release. "What that means is that physicians may be able to monitor a patient's blood pressure to gauge how effectively sunitinib is treating their advanced kidney cancer."