LAWRENCE, Mass. – A Massachusetts woman charged with attempted murder for withholding cancer treatment from her autistic son testified Friday that she did not give him at least five months of chemotherapy medications because the side effects made him so sick she was afraid the treatments would kill him.
Kristen LaBrie, testifying for the second day at her attempted murder trial, said she mostly followed doctor's orders during the first four phases of treatment for her son, Jeremy Fraser. But she said she stopped giving him his cancer medications during the final phase of his treatment because she "didn't want to make him any sicker."
LaBrie said she told her son's doctor two or three times that she was afraid "that he just had had it."
"He was just not capable of getting through any more chemotherapy," LaBrie said.
"I really felt that it could out-villainize the disease — the medicine could — because he was very, very fragile."
LaBrie, 38, of Salem, is charged with attempted murder, child endangerment and assault and battery. Her son died at age 9 in 2009.
The defense rested its case after LaBrie's testimony Friday. Prosecutors also rested after calling one rebuttal witness, a psychiatrist who said he did not believe LaBrie was suffering from a mental impairment when she made the decision to withhold the medication.
The jury is expected to begin deliberating the case Monday after closing arguments and instructions from the judge.
LaBrie's son was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma in 2006. The boy's oncologist testified that she told LaBrie that the cancer had a cure rate of 85 percent to 90 percent under an intensive, two-year treatment plan.
The boy required periodic hospitalizations and frequent visits to a hospital clinic, where he ..... (article cut to save bandwidth)
FRIDAY, April 8 (HealthDay News) -- People with Parkinson's disease appear to be at increased risk for melanoma and prostate cancer, and this greater risk may extend to their close and distant relatives, a new study suggests.
University of Utah School of Medicine researchers discovered the possible connection after analyzing data from the Utah Population Database (UPDB), which contains birth, death and family relationship data for more than 2.2 million people. Some of the records extend back over 15 generations.
The database is also linked with the Utah Cancer Registry and Utah death certificates dating back to 1904.
For this study, the researchers looked at nearly 3,000 people with at least three generations of genealogical data who had died of Parkinson's disease. The risk of prostate cancer and melanoma was much higher than expected in this group of people, and an increased risk was also seen in their first-, second-, and third-degree relatives.
"In our study, we not only identified an increased risk for prostate cancer and melanoma among individuals with Parkinson's disease and their relatives, but also established a reciprocal risk for Parkinson's disease among individuals with these two cancers and their relatives," co-author Dr. Stefan-M Pulst, professor and chair of the department of neurology, explained in a university news release. "Collectively, these data strongly support a genetic association between Parkinson's disease and both prostate cancer and melanoma."
The data might also highlight new avenues of research, the authors added.
"Our findings point to the existence of underlying pathophysiologic changes that are common to Parkinson's disease, prostate cancer, and melanoma," co-author Lisa Cannon-Albright, professor of internal medicine and division chief of epidemiology, pointed out in the news release. "Exploring the precise genetic links among these diseases could improve our understanding of Parkinson's disease ..... (article cut to save bandwidth)
FRIDAY, April 8 (HealthDay News) -- People with epileptic seizures are much more likely than others to be diagnosed with a brain tumor, a new study indicates.
The findings suggest that epileptic seizures may indicate the presence of a very early-stage tumor or a tumor that hasn't been detected on brain scans, the researchers noted.
They looked at data on hospital admissions between 1963 and 2005 and subsequent diagnoses of, or deaths from, brain tumors among those patients. The analysis revealed that people who had a first-ever hospital admission for epileptic seizure were nearly 20 times more likely to develop a brain tumor than people admitted to the hospital for other reasons.
Even when the researchers factored in the possibility that brain tumors might have been missed or not recorded in the first year after admission for epilepsy, the risk was still 7.5 to nine times higher for patients with epileptic seizures.
The study also found that people with epilepsy were more than 25 times as likely to develop a cancerous brain tumor and more than 10 times as likely to develop a benign tumor than other patients.
The greatest risk was in epilepsy patients aged 15-44, who were 24 to 38 times more likely to develop a brain tumor than people of the same age without epilepsy.
The risk of brain tumor persisted for some years after an initial epilepsy-related hospitalization -- up to a more than sixfold greater risk for as long as 14 years.
Brain tumors are rare, even among those with epilepsy, the researchers noted. The overall risk of a brain tumor in 15-to-44-year-olds, for example, was about 1 percent to 2 percent.
"Our study suggests that tumor as an underlying cause for epilepsy may not become apparent ..... (article cut to save bandwidth)
Apr 09 2011
FRIDAY, April 8 (HealthDay News) -- Many patients diagnosed with lung cancer -- as well as their family caregivers -- continue to smoke even though doing so may jeopardize their recovery and long-term health outcome, says a study sponsored by the U.S. National Cancer Institute.
Researchers report that nearly one in five recently diagnosed lung cancer patients continues to light up, which can make them feel guilty or socially stigmatized.
"The biggest obstacle is fatalism, the belief that it is too late to quit smoking so why bother," said Kathryn E. Weaver, study lead author and assistant professor of social sciences and health policy at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C.
"There are benefits to be gained by quitting that have important implications for survival, response to treatments, and quality of life," she said.
The findings point to the need for family support, counseling and medication to help patients and/or family caregivers overcome their addiction and adopt healthy lifestyle choices, said Weaver.
The study was recently published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.
The researchers looked at 742 cancer patients and caregivers at multiple sites and found that 18 percent of smokers with lung cancer failed to quit after their diagnosis. Smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer.
Among a subset of smokers with colorectal cancer, which is not strongly associated with tobacco use, 12 percent of the patients continued smoking.
An even higher proportion of the patients' family caregivers also kept on smoking -- 25 percent of those caring for lung cancer patients and 20 percent of those caring for colorectal cancer patients, the researchers found.
Most of the caregivers were middle-aged females and were often spouses of the patients. In some cases, both the ..... (article cut to save bandwidth)
Apr 09 2011
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – A program including regular follow-ups with nurses and focused attempts to cut back on TV, fast food, and sodas appears to keep some overweight and obese kids from gaining more weight, according to a new study.
Specifically, girls in general and kids from households earning less than $50,000 were less likely to gain weight over the course of a year if they were in the program.
But it appeared to have no effect on boys, or in kids from higher income households.
"We struggled a bit to try to understand" why the program didn't help kids overall, study author Dr. Elsie Taveras of Harvard Medical School told Reuters Health.
"We didn't design it as an intervention specifically for children from low-income populations," but for that population in particular, and for girls, it had a big effect, she said.
Plus, kids who received the intervention cut back on their TV watching by about 30 minutes per day, and they appeared to be less likely to consume soda and fast food. It's possible, with more time, those changes could have an impact on their weight, and the authors plan to follow them for another year to find out, said Taveras.
Other studies have shown a link between TV watching and obesity in kids. Although this program affected TV watching but not weight overall, the two are still likely connected, said the researcher. "I think it's entirely possible the (weight) changes lag behind the changes in behavior."
The intervention revolved around primary care doctors, so integrating the same healthy messages in other aspects of kids' lives - daycare, community centers, schools - may have a larger impact, Taveras added. "The additive effects of consistent messages, and multiple reinforcements, could be much ..... (article cut to save bandwidth)
THURSDAY, April 7 (HealthDay News) -- Silke Zeigler was fed up with "yo-yo" dieting in her struggle to maintain a healthy weight.
"The first realization was that diets didn't work and actually made things worse, as after finishing the diet I put the weight I'd lost back on," said Zeigler, 26, a taxi driver from the Wurzburg region of Germany. "So, I researched surgical options such as gastric bypass surgery or gastric banding. But, ironically, for these operations I wasn't overweight enough."
Then the university hospital in Wurzburg offered her a chance to participate in a trial of an innovative stomach "pacemaker," aimed at curbing appetite and controlling weight.
Zeigler embraced the idea, in large measure because of the treatment's reversibility. "That is, it can always be removed again without permanent effects on the anatomy of my stomach, such as [happens] in a gastric bypass surgery," Zeigler noted.
Ten months after receiving the implantable device in what she called a "quite easy" operation, Zeigler said she's lost about 80 pounds and kept it off. "I quickly noticed success because in the first few weeks I lost 20 kilos [44 pounds] and with every fading kilo my motivation increased," she said.
The device, not yet approved for use in the United States, is dubbed "abiliti" by its California-based maker, IntraPace. According to the company, the device is implanted in the stomach during a one-hour laparoscopic procedure via small insertions in the abdominal wall.
Once in place, the device uses its food-detection sensor to sense whenever a patient eats or drinks. This prompts it to emit low energy electrical pulses to nerves that trigger a feeling of rapid fullness.
According to IntraPace, users can feel "a sensation" from the tiny impulses the device delivers. Zeigler ..... (article cut to save bandwidth)
Apr 02 2011
FRIDAY, April 1 (HealthDay News) -- Colds and allergies can cause similar symptoms, and finding out which condition you have is the first step in getting relief, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI).
Colds are caused by one of more than 200 viruses that get transmitted from person to person. Allergies, which are not contagious, are caused by allergens, such as pollen, that prompt the immune system to overreact.
In spring, high levels of tree and grass pollens cause sneezing and other cold-like symptoms for the estimated 60 million Americans with allergic rhinitis, more commonly known as hay fever.
There are a number of ways to distinguish between spring allergies and a cold, says the ACAAI. Colds generally evolve, starting with a stuffy nose, throat irritation and low-grade fever, followed by sneezing and a runny nose with thickening mucus that often turns yellow or green. Common allergy symptoms include sneezing, itchy eyes and nose, but the mucus is typically clear.
While colds usually last a week or two, allergy symptoms persist and can even get worse with continued exposure to the allergen causing your symptoms. Spring allergies can last six weeks or more.
Aches and fever most likely indicate a cold, while itchy eyes are strong evidence of allergies.
A sore throat and cough can occur with allergies, but most likely suggest a cold. Coughing is common in colds but can also be a sign of allergy-related asthma, especially in children. People with a persistent cough should see an allergist, the ACAAI advises.
FRIDAY, April 1 (HealthDay News) -- About 500 HIV-positive patients a year could get kidney or liver transplants within months instead of years if the U.S. Congress reversed a law that forbids people with HIV from being organ donors after they die, researchers say.
"If this legal ban were lifted, we could potentially provide organ transplants to every single HIV-infected transplant candidate on the waiting list. Instead of discarding the otherwise healthy organs of HIV-infected people when they die, those organs could be available for HIV-positive candidates," senior study author Dr. Dorry L. Segev, an associate professor of surgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said in a Hopkins news release.
Segev and colleagues analyzed data from the Nationwide Inpatient Study and the HIV Research Network to estimate the number of people in the United States who are good potential organ donors except for the fact that they have HIV.
The researchers found similar numbers in each of the data sources: an average of 534 patients a year between 2005 and 2008 in the Nationwide Inpatient Study, and an average of 494 a year between 2000 and 2008 in the HIV Research Network.
The study was released online March 28 in advance of publication in an upcoming print issue of the American Journal of Transplantation.
Legalizing the use of organs from HIV-infected donors would not only benefit HIV-positive people waiting for a transplant, it would move them off the transplant waiting list and shorten waiting times for patients without HIV, Segev noted.
He added that doctors in South Africa have started doing transplants of HIV-infected organs into HIV-infected people and have had excellent results.
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – A new report from the drug company GlaxoSmithKline concludes that its antidepressant Paxil might make adults with major depression more likely to become suicidal.
But the rate of suicide attempts was low, at 0.34 percent for people on Paxil and 0.05 percent for people who got sham treatment with a placebo pill in clinical trials.
And it couldn't be entirely ruled out that the difference was due to chance, according to the report, published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.
"The scientific evidence does not establish that paroxetine" - the ingredient in Paxil -- "causes suicide, suicide attempts, self-harm or suicidal thinking," said Sarah Alspach, a spokeswoman for the drug company.
"Nonetheless, all patients who are started on antidepressant therapy should be monitored appropriately and observed closely for clinical worsening, suicidality, or unusual changes in behavior."
In general, antidepressants can be extremely helpful for people with depression. The American Academy of Family Physicians says on its web site, "Most people who have depression get better with treatment that includes these medicines."
But the link between suicide risk and antidepressants has long been a thorny issue for regulators and drugmakers alike. The current data were initially published in 2006 on GlaxoSmithKline's website in response to widespread concern.
In 2004, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning that children and adolescents taking antidepressants might have an increased risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors.
Specifically, the agency found that 4 percent of children taking antidepressants in clinical trials thought about killing or harming themselves, or actually attempted suicide.
By comparison, only 2 percent of children on fake medications did so.
In 2006, the FDA extended its warning to include young adults up to age ..... (article cut to save bandwidth)
WEDNESDAY, March 30 (HealthDay News) -- Longer periods of pregnancy and breast-feeding in mammals are associated with larger brain growth in offspring, which explains why human babies remain dependent on their mother for so long, say researchers.
They also said the findings from their study of humans and 127 other mammal species offer further proof that breast-feeding is good for brain development and support the World Health Organization's recommendation that babies should be breast-fed exclusively for their first six months of life, followed by continued breast-feeding (along with other foods) up to age 2 or longer.
The researchers at the University of Durham in the U.K. found that brain size relative to body size was most closely associated with maternal investment -- the length of time a mother spends carrying her offspring in pregnancy and how long she suckles her young.
The length of pregnancy determines offspring's brain size at birth and the amount of time spent suckling affects brain growth after birth.
For example, humans have nine-month pregnancies and breast-feed their babies for up to three years. This is necessary to fuel the growth of the brains, which have an average volume of 1,300 cubic centimeters (cc) in adults. Fallow deer have about the same body weight as humans but are only pregnant for seven months, followed by a suckling period of up to six months. Their adult brain size is 220cc, six times smaller than the human brain.
"We already know that large-brained species develop more slowly, mature later and have longer lifespans, but what has not always been clear is why brains and life histories are related," lead investigator and anthropology professor Robert Barton said in a university news release.
"One theory is that large brains increase lifespan by making the ..... (article cut to save bandwidth)