December 2008

Doctors may start running genetic tests before writing prescriptions

The New York Times has an interesting article on the genetic component behind how useful (or not) several popular prescriptions are. The main focus of the article is tamoxifen, a cancer drug which is a (relatively) inexpensive and effective alternative to a newer class of cancer drugs called "aromatase inhibitors." Tamoxifen itself isn't what kills the cancer cells. It is converted by the body into endoxifen, which is the substance that actually fights cancer. However, researchers recently showed that not everyone has the genetic component which is required to make the conversion. The conversion is done by an enzyme called 2D6, and "up to 7 percent of people" do not produce this enzyme. Another 20 to 40 percent of people produce a low level of the enzyme, which may not be enough to convert tamoxifen at an effective rate. Genetic testing can determine whether a person is producing enough 2D6 to make tamoxifen treatment useful.

Effects of MDMA (Ecstacy)

MDMA or methylenedioxymethamphetamine is a synthetic, psychoactive drug that is chemically similar to methamphetamine as well as the hallucinogen known as mescaline. People who take MDMA, also known to party kids as ecstasy, feel energized and feelings of euphoria, emotional warmth. This is also accompanied with distortions in time perception and it provides tactile experiences for the consumer.
Ecstasy is made in to a capsule or pill and is taken orally. In it's early stages, it was mainly popular with teens and young adults in nightclubs and very popular in raves. Those taking Ecstasy while at raves or nightclubs thrive on the effects of being able to dance all night and feel great doing it. The extra sensory input that the drug provides as well as the feelings of euphoria made this drug explode in popularity.
Now according to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, the profile of the typical MDMA user has changed. The drug now affects a broader range of ethnic groups. Ecstasy is also popular among urban gay males.

Radiation Plus Hormone Therapy Cuts Prostate Cancer Deaths

Swiss researchers continuing their studies in cancer have found a way to give men diagnosed with prostate cancer to cut their chances of death in half. Those with locally advanced prostate cancer or cancer that has spread beyond the wall of the prostate gland were placed under radiation therapy in combination with hormone treatment therapy and the results were very promising.
The prostate is a walnut-sized gland located in front of the rectum and underneath the urinary bladder. It is found only in men. The prostate's job is to make some of the fluid that protects and nourishes sperm cells in semen. Just behind the prostate gland are the seminal vesicles that make most of the fluid for semen. The urethra, which is the tube that carries urine and semen out of the body through the penis, runs through the prostate. Several types of cells are found in the prostate, but over 99% of prostate cancers develop from the gland cells. Gland cells make the prostate fluid that is added to the semen.

history of depression

I'm writing a research paper on "Teens and Depression" for and English final, and I would like to get some background information to include in it as well. I would like to know how long depression has been around, how long it took before people knew how to treat it, and how long before people realized teens could become depressed as well. If anyone could help, I would be so greatful, this surfing the web isn't helping much.

Medicare Offers Incentives for E-Prescriptions

Those of you out there that are on Medicare may be getting your prescriptions for medications in a different manner. Starting next month, Medicare, the federal health insurance program for the elderly and disabled, will offer financial bonuses to doctors who prescribe drugs electronically rather than on paper. Doctors who opt out of the e-prescribing will face penalties from Medicare starting in 2012. Putting the electronic prescribing in place next month, Medicare hopes to get doctors in the swing of things early on before they will suffer penalties. Medicare is putting e-prescriptions in place to both improve efficiency and lower medical errors.
Incentives for doctors to switch over to the e-prescriptions will begin January 1st of the upcoming year. Though Medicare does not expect all doctors to jump on board right away but they do expect it to be more and more of a common practice about 6 months or so down the road. Only weeks before Barack Obama takes office with plans to overhaul the U.S.

Those Who Snore Burn More Calories

Does your partner snore and keep you up through the night? With all the numerous ways to make attempts to put a stop to snoring, researchers have done a study on snorers and your partner may have another benefit from it aside from getting sleep. People who snore have been found to burn more calories when they are resting during the day than those who sleep quietly through the night.
Though the new studies have shown the extra calorie burning in our beloved snorers, the calories that are burned during the daily rest periods doesn't amount to be enough to balance the extra weight that usually goes along with the condition sleep apnea. The study published in the December issue of the Archives of Otorlaryngology may give insight into the basic biological underpinnings of such disorders.
"There are a lot of other factors that are going on that lead to a net increase in body weight," said Dr.

New Study Finds that Some Breast Cancers Disappear

It appears that some breast cancers that are found by a mammogram screening may not be detected again raising the possibility that the natural course of some screen-detected invasive breast cancers is to spontaneously regress or simply disappear according to a team of researchers from Norway and Dartmouth Medical School.
"Some breast cancers will not continue to behave as cancers, even though they look like cancer under the microscope, and they grow and reach a size where they can be detected on mammograms," Jan Maehlen, MD, PhD, a study co-author, tells WebMD.

Benefits of Colonoscopy Seen More Limited?

Cancer of the colon is one of the most common causes of deathfrom cancer, coming in just behind lung cancer, among the many types ofcancer that affect men and women. Most cancers of the colonbegin as polyps which are small, slow-growing, mushroom-like growthson the inner surface of the colon. The purposeof colon cancer screening is to detect and remove growths beforethey invade and spread. 
A colonoscopy screening is performed to inspect the entire colon througha flexible tube. Becausecolonoscopy is also the most expensive, inconvenient, and riskiesttest, it is important to know whether colonoscopy reduces thechance of dying of colon cancer. Researchers performed studies to find out whether the colon cancer death rate is lower in people who had a colonoscopy performed.
Previously believed that screening for colorectal cancer through a colonoscopy prevents up to 90 percent of deaths studies now indicate that the number is closer to only two-thirds.

New Study: HIV Attacks Healthy Genital Tissue in Women

The belief that the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) looked for breaks in the skin like a herpes sore to enter the body to acquire access to immune system cells deeper in the tissue and that the normal lining of the vaginal tract offered a barrier to invasion by the virus during sexual intercourse has been disproved by researchers. Instead, HIV appears to attack normal and healthy genital tissue in women.
On Tuesday, researchers in the United States completed a study that offers new insight on how the AIDS virus spreads. Before these studies, scientists had little understanding of all the details pertaining to how HIV is sexually transmitted in women.
"Normal skin is vulnerable," Thomas Hope of Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine said in a telephone interview.

RNA Therapy Soon an Option for Ovarian Cancer Patients?

In the December 18th issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, information from studies could not only help predict survival of patients diagnosed with ovarian cancer but it might also lead to treatments for the disease. Ovarian cancer is the second most lethal cancer in women in terms of cases diagnosed.
Researchers found two enzymes that are key in ovarian cancer. Dicer and Drosha are involved in two types of RNA interference. The enzyme Dicer gets its name because it dices up RNA. During the study, researchers measured messenger RNA (mRNA) levels of Dicer and Drosha in tissue samples derived from 111 patients diagnosed with ovarian cancer and then compared their findings with information on survival of the disease. RNA interference molecules help regulate gene expression. They can shut down genes and can represent an avenue for treatment.
Nearly 60 percent of cancer cells had low levels of the Dicer gene and about half had low levels of Drosha. Close to 39 percent of cancer cells in the study had low levels of both genes. Low levels of either or both genes was associated with poorer survival.

Treating a Sprained Ankle

Sprained ankles can be very painful; sometimes more so than an actual break. Be sure that you do in fact know that you are only dealing with a sprained ankle and not a broken one. Chances are if you have sprained your ankle before like I have, you know the difference. While you should still go and see your doctor for x-rays here are some things that you can do at home to treat the ankle. For fast recovery and less painful symptoms take care of your ankle as soon as possible.
Make sure that your ankle is protected. You are going to want to take it easy for a couple days not putting a whole lot of strain on your ankle. Walking on it should be avoided until the swelling and pain starts to subside. While you have your ankle on sick leave you need to reinforce the rule of staying off of it and protecting it. Apply a splint or brace to your ankle. Both of these items as well as an Ace wrap or two can be picked up from any pharmacy if you don't already have them on hand.
Get comfy and elevate your ankle once you have it in a splint or brace using the Ace wrap for compression only when your ankle is not elevated.

Complications of Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa

Eating disorders are very serious and need to be treated as soon as possible. Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa can cause life taking complications if not treated in addition to irreparable physical damage that can result in a lifetime of treatment.
Damage caused to the body from a strict diet results from the body not getting enough protein, calories and the extreme weight loss. Frequent elimination after eating to control weight such as vomiting and using laxatives and diuretics will cause complications on their own. Some that have worked through Anorexia and Bulimia will find that there is an excessive weight increase with complications of obesity as a result. The body looses its routine in processing food and calories. Calories consumed are turned into fat and stored as the body's way of protecting it from starvation again.
Death being a very real result of any eating disorder, the mortality rate for Anorexics alone is between 4 and 18 percent. At this rate of death, it can be closely compared to deaths resulting from drug abuse. Death from Anorexia Nervosa is usually caused by cardiac, pulmonary and renal damage.

Testicular Cancer: Signs and Symptoms

As rare as it is said to be, testicular cancer is the most common form of cancer affecting men ages 16 to 40 years old. Testicular cancer forms in the testicles usually resulting from immature sperm producing cells. While most forms of testicular cancer are very treatable and have a good prognosis if discovered early there are some forms of testicular cancer that aren't so easily treated.
Obvious signs of possible testicular cancer should be taken seriously and an appointment with your doctor should be made immediately. Signs to look for that may be testicular cancer are as follows:
  • Swollen Scrotum
  • Scrotum Heaviness
  • Testicle Enlargement
  • Breast/Pectoral Enlargement
  • Tender or General Unwell Feeling in the Groin
  • Abdominal and/or Testicle Dull Ache
  • Scrotum Discomfort
  • Change in How Your Scrotum Feels
  • Sudden Scrotum Fluid Accumulation
In addition, if you have any lumps with or without pain and sometimes accompanied by fatigue is usually the first sign.

Tubal Ligation Reversal

Many women have chosen to undergo tubal ligation also known as having their tubes tied. Those that are done having children for any reason can take this step to prevent any future pregnancies with out having to worry about birth control.
In the past reversing a tubal ligation was a risky procedure and the chances of the patient to become pregnant again after the reverse procedure was pretty low. From the stay in the hospital after the procedure to recovery after leaving the hospital took some major time. Technology on our side, this is no longer the classic scenario for women who want to reverse their procedure in effort to bring another little one into the family.
Doctors are now using a procedure called Microsurgical Techniques. Microscopes are used to visualize and bring together the very  narrow hollow center portion of the fallopian tubes. All the materials used in the microsurgical procedure are very thin suture materials to get the smallest possible incisions.

Hormone Therapy and Breast Cancer Survival

A new study that was presented at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium in Texas says that hormone therapy after menopause could lower women's risk of dying from breast cancer. During the study researchers observed 2,800 postmenopausal women diagnosed with breast cancer after the study began in 1995 and 1996. Each individual was monitored until their death with the observations coming to an end in 2005.  
Though taking these hormone treatments puts women at a higher risk for breast cancer, women who took the hormone therapy treatments before a breast cancer diagnosis were more commonly diagnosed with estrogen receptor-positive cancer or cancer tumors that are smaller in size and can be detected in their early stages. Estrogen receptor-positive tumors rely on estrogen to grow and antiestrogen therapy helps to treat it. Those that use an add-on hormone therapy can help to prevent breast cancer survivors from having a repeat or development of new cancers in either breast.
Hormonal therapy blocks the ability of the hormone estrogen to turn on and stimulate the growth of breast cancer cells.

FDA Experts In Favor of Banning Serevent and Foradil

The New York Times has reported that a panel of experts called in by the FDA has voted to ban the asthma drugs Serevent and Foradil. Both drugs can help open lung airways, but they carry an increased risk of death if taken without a steroid. The experts noted that half of doctors who prescribe the two drugs fail to also prescribe a steroid. To complicate matters, many patients fail to take the steroid, even when it has been prescribed. Some patients apparently are concerned about the side effects of "steroids" prescribed for asthma patients, particularly young children. (Asthma patients are prescribed corticosteroids, which are an anti-inflammatory medication.

Gene Mutation Protects Amish from Heart Disease

Are the Amish immune from heart disease? The University of Maryland thinks that there is the possibility. Researchers have identified a genetic mutation that protects the heart against the effects of a high-fat diet. This gene mutation was found among members of the Old Order Amish.
Contradicting what would constitute as a good diet to be heart healthy, these hard working farmers eat foods that are notorious for saturated fats. A diet like theirs this high in saturated fats would send anyone into major heart disease problems. In combination with all the regular physical labor that the Amish take on everyday researchers have found that this isn't the only reason why they are able to keep heart disease at bay. In a new study published today in the journal Science, researchers have found that some of them are born with a genetic trait that doesn't give heart disease a chance.
Researchers have found that 5 percent of the Amish have a gene mutation that speeds up the breakdown of triglycerides.

FDA Soon to Approve New HIV Inhibitor

A new medication soon to be on the market for patients with HIV could make life a little easier. In a new drug class of antiretrovial medications called integrase inhibitors, Isentress is on the fast track with the FDA to be approved for use. Created by Merick, Isentress being the first in its classification is an anti-HIV medicine that helps control HIV infection used in combination of additional antiretrovial agents.
Integrase inhibitors are drugs that prevent HIV from using the integrase enzyme to combine its instructions into the CD4 or T-cells instructions. Stopping the use of the integrase enzyme, the integrase inhibitors prevent HIV from creating more of itself, putting the progression of HIV at a halt. Simply put, Isentress works by inhibiting the insertion of HIV-1 DNA into human DNA.