Monday, December 27, 2010

Electronic Health Records Fall Short for Improving Quality of Hospital Care

Are Electronic Health Records worth the Investment?

A study from the Rand Corporation shows implementation of electronic medical records in hospitals have, so far, failed to improve patient care, falling short on anticipated improvements in hospital performance.

The findings come from a study that included 2,021 acute care hospitals that revealed implementation of electronic health records did not improve quality of care when compared to hospitals that did not have the technology. The only exception was treatment of patients with heart failure. (read more)

What Your Father Ate could Affect Your own Disease Risks

What your father ate could have a big influence on you own personal risk factors for disease find researchers.
According to new evidence, parental health behaviors before conception may play an important role in the health of offspring to a greater degree than previously understood.

Oliver J. Rando, MD, PhD, associate professor of biochemistry & molecular pharmacology at UMMS and principal investigator for the study says, "Knowing what your parents were doing before you were conceived is turning out to be important in determining what disease risk factors you may be carrying." (read more)

Researchers Look at 'Un-Growth' Hormone to Reverse Aging

Scientists found blocking growth hormone with a compound called MZ-5-156, might actually help people live longer and reverse signs of aging, contrary to current thinking.

The researchers say the study is important because many older adults use growth hormone, thinking it is the fountain of youth, when instead it may be just the opposite and hazardous. (read more) ◦

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Curcumin in Turmeric might Treat Fatty Liver Disease

Dr. Anping Cheng
Credit: Jan Ryerse, Ph.D
Curcumin in the spice turmeric might treat fatty liver disease that affects 30 percent of Americans. The disease can progress to cirrhosis, liver cancer and death. Lab studies from Saint Louis University researchers found curcumin can control leptin levels that play a role in the development of liver disease.

Curcumin Stops Liver Damage in Lab Cells

The study, led by Anping Chen, PhD, corresponding author and director of research in the pathology department of Saint Louis University found curcumin stops the production of fat storing cells in the liver, known as hepatic stellate cells (HSC's).

The researchers hypothesize from the findings that the phytochemical from turmeric could be used to treat fatty liver disease.

The mechanism that stopped abnormal liver cells from growing was from the ability of curcumin to interfere with leptin signals. High levels of the hormone leptin are linked to obesity and type 2 diabetes, and thought to contribute to liver disease.

The authors write, "...we observed that leptin dose dependently reduced levels of intracellular fatty acids and triglycerides in passaged HSCs, which were eliminated by curcumin."

Dr. Chen says "While research in an animal model and human clinical trials are needed, our study suggests that curcumin may be an effective therapy to treat and prevent liver fibrosis, which is associated with non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH)", also known at fatty liver disease.

Endocrinology, doi:10.1210/en.2010-0191 ◦

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Test for Early Detection of Bladder Cancer Could Save Lives

Researchers are developing a test that can detect bladder cancer in its early stages. The test, if validated, could save lives. Bladder cancer, diagnosed early is treatable.

The new test uses current lab test techniques to check for the absence of microRNA. According to Liana Adam, M.D., PhD, assistant professor in urology at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, “Measuring expressions of microRNA in bodily fluid represents a very promising tool with widespread implications for screening.

Bladder cancer is the fifth most common type of cancer. In men, it is the fourth leading cause of solid malignancy.

MicroRNA Dysregulation Accurately Predicts Bladder Cancer
For the study, researchers found common variations attributable to bladder cancer. They found 79 microRNA dyregulations in the blood of cancer patients that have previously been identified. The scientists say the test is, so far, shown to be highly accurate.

According to the National Cancer Institute, it's important to be screened for the disease for symptoms of blood in the urine, frequent urination, or feeling the need to urinate without success, painful urination and low back pain that could be mistaken for other conditions.

Adam said the test needs further validation, but “we could reasonably use this method for widespread screening of bladder cancer" that is curable in the early stages.

American Association for Cancer Research (AACR)

Monday, September 6, 2010

Mastectomy Prevents Breast Cancer for Women at High Risk

Preventive mastectomy and ovarectomy are now confirmed to lower the chances of cancer for women with the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations. The reduced risk of breast cancer from mastectomy has been controversial, but new research shows women at high risk can protect themselves from breast cancer with preventive surgery.

According to Gail Tomlinson, M.D., Ph.D., interim director of the Greehey Children's Cancer Research Institute at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, "We have believed this for 15 years," said Dr. Tomlinson, "but it's been so controversial — removing organs for cancer risk."

The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association followed approximately 2,500 women at higher risk for breast or ovarian cancer because of BRAC1 and BRAC2 genetic mutations,  between 1974 and 2008.

Thirteen out of  1,372 women who did not have preventive surgery were diagnosed with breast cancer. Of 247 women electing to have cancer preventing mastectomies, none developed breast cancer.

"This is a compromise women are willing to accept and their husbands are willing to accept, because the whole family worries about whether the women are going to get breast cancer," Dr. Tomlinson said.

Dr. Tomlinson is developing a genetic counselling program at the Cancer Therapy & Research Center at the UT Health Science Center, in hopes of helping families understand their understanding of risk factors for other types of cancer as well.

Tomlinson notes that being faced with cancer or mastectomy is a difficult decision, as is the worry of developing breast cancer - especially for young women with careers and families. Preventive mastectomy and removal of ovaries is an option shown in the study that can stop breast cancer for women with the BRAC1 and BRAC2 mutations.


Sunday, July 18, 2010

Just one Drink Boosts Stroke Risk Within the First Hour

Just one drink at happy hour can increase the chances of having a stroke according to findings from a small study. Researchers interviewed patients who suffered from stroke finding the risk of stroke within the first hour of consuming alcohol increases by 2.3. percent.

The findings aren't entirely clear though. Scientists know that heavy alcohol consumption increases the chances of having a stroke, but light to moderate drinking has been associated with lower chances cardiovascular problems that can cause blood clots and ischemic stroke.

Among 390 patients interviewed for the study, 14 reported drinking alcohol within the hour of onset stroke symptoms, equating to double the risk compared to stroke victims who did not consume any form of alcoholic beverage.

Murray A. Mittleman, M.D., Dr.P.H., senior author of the Stroke Onset Study (SOS) and director of the Cardiovascular Epidemiology Research Unit at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in the Harvard Medical School in Boston, Mass. says, "The impact of alcohol on your risk of ischemic stroke appears to depend on how much and how often you drink".

Dr. Mittleman adds,"The evidence on heavy drinking is consistent: Both in the long and short term it raises stroke risk. But we're finding it's more complicated with light to moderate drinking. It is possible that the transiently increased stroke risk from moderate alcohol consumption may be outweighed by the longer term health benefits."

The reason ischemic stroke can occur within one hour after consuming just one drink is because blood pressure elevates and blood becomes more prone to clot. Ischemic stroke differs from hemorrhagic stroke and occurs when a blood clot interferes with blood flow to the brain.
After an hour of consuming alcohol the chances of having a stroke declines, but more than doubles within the first hour. The findings also revealed that stroke risk after having even one drink - whether beer, wine or hard liquor - increases by 2.3 percent.
doi: 10.1161/STROKEAHA.110.580092



Saturday, July 17, 2010

Reduce Hot Flashes with Weight Loss

Shedding weight could treat hot flashes
Losing a mere 5 to 9 percent of body weight has been shown to treat hot flashes in menopausal women. New study results show women consuming fewer calories who lost weight also had fewer and less intense hot flashes. Read my story at

Fewer women choose mammogram screening for breast cancer
Fewer women are choosing to have mammograms - findings that trouble researchers who also say better technology is needed for breast cancer screening. Read more

Passive smoke exposure during pregnancy affects lifelong health of unborn babies
Unborn children are vulnerable to the effects of passive smoking. Newer findings show that pregnant women whose unborn babies are exposed to second hand smoke risk a lifetime of health problems. Read more

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Everybody Deserves a Massage Week 2010

Everybody Deserves a Massage 16th Annual Event

July 18 to July 24 is Everybody deserves a massage week. This year Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals (ABMP) have extended an invitation to television media to receive a free massage that include ABC co-hosts on "The View" and NBC's TV talk show host "Morning Joe". Read the entire story at

Prepare for Childbirth with Massage

A massage technique in the last four or five weeks of pregnancy to train the lower genital tract for childbirth. During perineal massage a women kneads the tissue below the vagina to prepare the tissue to expand more easily during birth. Read the entire story

Massage Aids Muscle Recovery after Exercise

Scientists have determined that immediate cyclic compression of muscles after intense exercise reduced swelling and muscle damage in a study using animals. A 2008 study funded by the NIH and the Ohio State University Pomerene Chair in Family Medicine, determined that massage has benefits for musce recovery at a cellular level from the animal models. Read the rest at

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Massage, Stretching and Exercise Best for Persistent Low Back Pain

Scientists from the German Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG) suggest that a combination of certain types of massage, combined with exercise and stretching, may be the most effective way to treat low back pain that fails to get better on its own. Not all forms of massage work for low back pain relief, but not all forms have been proven to be helpful.

“The cause of back pain is not always immediately clear," explains Professor Peter Sawicki, the Institute's Director. "But low back pain usually gets better on its own within a few weeks." Back pain is only rarely caused by a more serious health problem.”

Types of massage shown to relieve back pain include classic massage, Thai massage, and acupressure. “In classic (Swedish) massage the affected area of skin and muscles are massaged, in Thai massage the limbs are pulled and stretched, and acupressure involves applying pressure to certain points on the body”, but Sawicki warns that relying on massage alone may not be the most effective way to deal with persistent low back pain.

Compared to massage alone, a combination of exercise and stretching seems to be the best way to improve mobility and reduce low back pain.

Because not all forms of massage are the same, Sawicki recommends learning which techniques are most effective for low back pain before making a choice. "So it is worth finding out about the different techniques before deciding to have a certain type of massage."

Types of Massage for Low Back Pain

Exercise to Reduce Low Back Pain


Saturday, March 20, 2010

Minocycline Acne Drug Prevents AIDS

Minocycline, an antibiotic drug used to treat acne, has been found by Johns Hopkins researchers to prevent progression of HIV into full blown AIDS. Treatment of HIV that uses antiviral therapy can keep HIV dormant. Minocycline acts directly on T cells, targeting the immune system. Minocycline prevents AIDS because it keeps the HIV virus dormant via a different pathway than Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy (HAART).

The researchers found that Minocycline had benefits for macaques infected with SIV (the primate equivalent of HIV), and also had anti-inflammatory properties on T cells, making the acne drug beneficial for early treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.

Gregory Szeto, a graduate student in the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine working in the Retrovirus Laboratory at Hopkins says, “Since minocycline reduced T cell activation, you might think it would have impaired the immune systems in the macaques, which are very similar to humans, but we didn’t see any deleterious effect. This drug strikes a good balance and is ideal for HIV because it targets very specific aspects of immune activation.”

“The powerful advantage to using minocycline is that the virus appears less able to develop drug resistance because minocycline targets cellular pathways not viral proteins,” says Janice Clements, Ph.D., Mary Wallace Stanton Professor of Faculty Affairs, vice dean for faculty, and professor of molecular and comparative pathobiology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

In order for AIDS to develop from HIV infection, T cells must activate and reproduce. Minocycline stops that process and prevents AIDS, found in laboratory testing of human cells. The findings that minocycline can keep HIV dormant means researchers could also find other drugs that target the same pathways, leading to promising new treatments for HIV that can also prevent AIDS.

Johns Hopkins


Saturday, March 6, 2010

Massage and other non-drug techniques helps hospitalized patients with pain

Results of a new study show that massage and other non-drug techniques helped patients in the hospital with pain relief. Massage, mind-body therapies, acupuncture, acupressure, healing touch, music therapy, aromatherapy, and reflexology were found to reduce pain as much as fifty percent among patients hospitalized at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in a study conducted between January 1, 2008, and June 30, 2009.

Gregory Plotnikoff, M.D., one of the study’s authors and medical director of the Penny George Institute for Health and Healing at Abbott Northwestern Hospital says, "Roughly 80 percent of patients report moderate to severe pain levels after surgery. We struggle to provide effective pain control while trying to avoid the adverse effects of opioid medications, such as respiratory depression, nausea, constipation, dizziness and falls."

Using a varied approach of integrative medicine techniques was found to reduce pain among cardiovascular, medical, surgical, orthopedic, spine, rehabilitation, and cancer patients.

"Earlier studies narrowly focused on whether specific integrative therapies manage pain in either cancer or surgical patients," says Jeffery A. Dusek, Ph.D., research director for the George Institute. Our real-world study broadly shows that these therapies effectively reduce pain by over 50 percent across numerous patient populations. Furthermore, they can be clinically implemented in real time, across, and under the operational and financial constraints within an acute care hospital."

The integrative pain management program at Abbot Northwestern Hospital is free of charge to patients and delivered by a staff of six registered nurses, board-certified in their specialty area that includes oncology and cardiovascular, holistic nursing. The staff also includes six licensed Asian medicine practitioners; eight certified massage therapists, with an emphasis on acute care massage, and one certified music therapist.

Lori Knutson, RN, BSN, HN-BC, executive director of the George Institute says using non-drug techniques that combine a variety of integrative medicine approaches could ultimately reduce healthcare costs for hospitalized patients. Massage, mind body therapy, acupuncture, acupressure, reflexology, music therapy and healing touch for pain reduction have no side effects compared to drugs, and could also improve patient satisfaction in the hospital setting.

Allina Hospitals and Clinics


Saturday, January 30, 2010

Risk of multiple sclerosis highest for indviduals born in spring

New research shows that risk for multiple sclerosis is highest for individuals born in the springtime. The study suggests a strong link between environmental risk factors that could be responsible for the development of Multiple Sclerosis.

Emmanuelle Waubant and Ellen Mowry carried out the study that suggests multiple sclerosis development is influenced by the gene HLA-DRB1 and linked to a seasonal influence that is more common among individuals born in spring.

Waubant and Mowry call the study "unique in its attempt to understand how genes and environment interact in MS", though scientists do not have a clear understanding about birth month, genes and risk for multiple sclerosis.

The researchers say vitamin D deficiency that flucuates seasonally and could be present during pregnancy may be a factor that increases the chances of multiple sclerosis developing for those born in the spring.

Lack of vitamin D early in life, combined with a variant of the gene HLA-DRB1*15 could also be a factor that leads to multiple sclerosis. Too little vitamin D in early life might lead to impaired ability of the thymus to eliminate rogue T cells, that attack the body and lead to a loss of myelin on the nerve fibres.

The study authors say the findings that multiple sclerosis risk is higher for those born in the spring could lead to interventions once the role of genes and environmental risk for MS are more thoroughly understood. Past studies have also shown that individuals born in spring are at highest risk for the development of multiple sclerosis. Researchers now find it may be due to expression of the HLA-DRB1*15 allele that is influenced by vitamin D. ◦

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Morphine delays wound healing and increases infection risk

Morphine use and abuse is now found to delay wound healing in the presence of infection because it blocks the release of immune cells. Patients who use morphine for treatment of chronic pain or those abuse opiods are also at increased risk for developing infection from the effect of morphine on delayed healing

Researchers studied the effect of morphine on wound closure in a mouse model of chronic morphine use and abuse, finding that morphine inhibited the release of immune cells, and suppressed the formation of new blood vessels at the wound site. The result of the effect of morphine was inadequate wound healing and increased risk of infection from lack of clearance of bacteria from the site.

Chronic morphine users have been found to have wounds that don’t heal. The reasons are now clearer, and also have implications for evaluating the use of morphine for pain relief among specific populations as well as changes in care practices in individuals who abuse opiods.

The research was led by led by Dr. Sabita Roy at the University of Minnesota. The team of researchers concluded, that “these studies provide an in vivo tool by which further mechanistic experiments can be performed to address why, clinically, heroin-addicted patients often present with infected non-healing wounds. Understanding these underlying mechanisms affords improved treatment options not only for chronic morphine users and abusers, but can also have translational implications for immuno-compromised populations such as the elderly or those who are chronically stressed."

Morphine acts on the central nervous system and can provide analgesia and comfort. It is also frequently abused. The new finding, published February 2010 in The American Journal of Pathology shows that morphine delays wound healing and increases the risk of infection.

Am J Pathol 2010, 176: 786-799


Thursday, January 21, 2010

How obesity leads to cancer found by researchers and other news

Scientists uncover link between obesity and cancer
New research has uncovered the link between obesity and the development of cancer. The new study published, January 22 in the journal Cell, calls obesity a "bona fide tumor promoter", especially when it comes to liver cancer.

The findings show that liver cancer is fueled by inflammation that is also present with obesity. Reducing inflammation might also reduce cancer risk that are already taken by millions of individuals with arthritis and Crohn's disease. Anti inflammatory drugs might also reduce cancer risk for obese individuals. Read more

Too many choices may not foster health and happiness
A new study due for publication in the Journal of Consumer Research suggests that freedom of choice does not always foster health and happiness. For some, unlimited choice can paralyze, leading to unhealthy psychological functioning.

Authors Hazel Rose Markus from Stanford University and Barry Schwartz from Swarthmore College say, "Americans live in a political, social, and historical context that advances personal freedom, choice, and self-determination above all else. Contemporary psychology has proliferated this emphasis on choice and self-determination as the key to healthy psychological functioning."Read more

Diabetics with sleep apnea risk more complications
New findings show that diabetics with sleep apnea risk complications from diabetes from poor blood sugar control. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) that can remain undiagnosed places Type 2 diabetics at more risk for poor outcomes and may even negate the effects of diabetic medications.

University of Chicago researcher Renee S. Aronsohn, M.D., instructor of medicine says the study "demonstrates for the first time that there is a clear, graded, inverse relationship between OSA severity and glucose control in patients with type 2 diabetes." Read more

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Celexicob (Celebrex) study shows promise for skin cancer prevention and treatment

Skin cancer may have a new foe. In a study of individuals prone to the development of basal cell carcinoma, the drug celexicob (Celebrex), a non-steroidal anti inflammatory drug (NSAID), was found to reduce the number of basal cell skin cancers in a comparison of two groups of study participants.

The study was developed to find out if the celexicob could help individuals with a rare disorder known as Gorlin syndrome - a hereditary disorder that typically leads to hundreds and even thousands of basal skin cell cancers in individuals diagnosed with the disease. The scientists found "some benefit" from Celebrex for reducing the number of basal cell carcinomas, one of the most common types of cancer that occurs in the general population.

Ervin H. Epstein Jr., M.D., senior scientist at the Children's Hospital of Oakland Research Institute, Oakland, California says, "The underlying idea is if we can find something in these high-risk patients that could be translatable to the 'normal' population, then we could ultimately use that form of chemoprevention to reduce the numbers of skin cancer in all people." The findings that celexicob inhibits the growth of skin cancer has public health implications, though there is some concern about the cardiovascular side effects of the medication that include heart attack and stroke.

The researchers examined 60 patients with basal cell carcinoma to receive either 200 mg of oral celecoxib two times a day or placebo. After about two years, the two groups were compared. The scientists found that patients given placebo had a 50 percent increase in basal cell cancer per year compared with a 20 percent increase for those who received celecoxib.

The potential for a therapy that would impact the incidence of this would be huge," said Charles Rudin, MD associate director for clinical research at the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center, Johns Hopkins. The anti inflammatory drug celexicob, combined with other agents could also lead to the development of new treatments for basal cell carcinoma.

Cancer Prevention Research