Friday, 31 January 2014

Postmenopausal Estrogen Therapy Tied to Lower Glaucoma Risk


Effect seen for women on estrogen-only treatment in study, but experts say more research is needed

WebMD News from HealthDay

Doctors should be cautious when prescribing

By Kathleen Doheny

HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Jan. 30, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Women who take estrogen-only hormone-replacement therapy to relieve menopausal symptoms might also be reducing their risk for a common form of the eye disease glaucoma, according to new research.

"Ours is one of the first ... studies to find estrogen-containing hormone-replacement therapy was associated with a reduction in glaucoma risk," said study researcher Dr. Joshua Stein, an assistant professor of ophthalmology at the University of Michigan.

Other studies, however, have come up with conflicting results, Stein said. In his study, he looked at insurance-claims data for women aged 50 and older who were enrolled in a managed care plan for at least four years. The women visited an eye care provider at least twice from 2001 to 2009.

He evaluated information on more than 152,000 women, about 60,000 of whom had at least one prescription for estrogen-only therapy, he said. The others took a combination of estrogen and progesterone or estrogen plus an androgen (male hormone).

During the study period, about 2 percent of the women developed a common form of glaucoma known as primary open angle glaucoma, Stein said, which develops when pressure builds up in the eye. Glaucoma refers to a group of eye diseases that damage the optic nerve and can lead to blindness. Treatment can help preserve vision.

Each month of estrogen use reduced the risk of glaucoma by 0.4 percent, and that risk reduction accumulated over time, Stein said. After four years of continuous use, the reduction in risk would be about 19 percent, he said.

Although the researchers found an association between the use of estrogen-only therapy and a reduced risk for this form of glaucoma, they did not prove a cause-and-effect link. No link was found for the other hormone regimens.

The study was published online Jan. 30 in the journal JAMA Ophthalmology.

Estrogen might work by lowering the pressure or by protecting certain cells in the eye, the researchers said.

Hormone-replacement therapy has been linked with increased health risks, such as heart disease, breast cancer and stroke. One 10-year follow-up of the Women's Health Initiative estrogen-only trial, however, found a reversal of the health risks among women who'd had a hysterectomy.

The new study results do not suggest that reducing the risk of glaucoma is reason enough to take hormone replacement therapy, said Dr. Angela Turalba, a glaucoma specialist at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary.

Rather, the findings may prompt drug companies to begin looking at estrogen as a glaucoma treatment, said Turalba, who reviewed the research. "The findings are most helpful in guiding research in drug development for hormone-based therapies to be used as neuro-protective agents," she said.

Stein agreed. He said the goal would be to encourage drug companies to develop topical estrogen derivatives and study them as a glaucoma-preventive therapy.

The focus of the study was on women, he said, so there is no way to know whether estrogen-based treatments would also help men reduce glaucoma risk.

source : Postmenopausal Estrogen Therapy Tied to Lower Glaucoma Risk
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Video Game Teaches Kids How to Spot a Stroke


It told them what the symptoms are and what to do if they see someone having one

WebMD News from HealthDay

It told them what the symptoms are and what to do

By Robert Preidt

HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Jan. 30, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Playing a 15-minute stroke-education video game appeared to improve children's understanding of stroke symptoms and what to do if someone is having a stroke, a new study suggests.

The research included 210 low-income children, aged 9 and 10, from New York City who were tested on whether they could identify stroke symptoms and if they knew to call 911 if they saw a person suffering a stroke.

They were tested again immediately after playing a stroke-education game called Stroke Hero, and again seven weeks later after being given remote access to the game and encouraged to play at home.

After playing the game, the children were 33 percent more likely to recognize a stroke and know to call 911 in case of a stroke. They still had this knowledge when they were tested again seven weeks later, the study found.

Compared to those who played the game just once, children who continued to play the game at home were 18 percent more likely to recognize the stroke symptom of sudden imbalance, according to the study, which was published recently in the journal Stroke.

Ninety percent of the children said they liked playing the game. But although 67 percent said they would play it at home, only 26 percent did.

"We need to educate the public, including children, about stroke," study author Dr. Olajide Williams, an associate professor of neurology at Columbia University, said in a journal news release. "Often it's the witness that makes that 911 call, not the stroke victim. Sometimes these witnesses are young children."

In the Stroke Hero game, players pilot a clot-busting spaceship through an artery and blast blood clots with a clot-busting drug. When the supply of the drug is empty, gamers have to answer questions about stroke awareness to refill the medicine.

"Video games are fun, widely available and accessible for most children," Williams said. "Empowering every potential witness with the knowledge and skills required to make that lifesaving decision if they witness a stroke is critical."

source : Video Game Teaches Kids How to Spot a Stroke
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Stressed by Work-Life Balance? Just Exercise


Workouts, or even spurts of activity, can keep stress levels down and confidence up, survey results show

WebMD News from HealthDay

By Maureen Salamon

HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Jan. 30, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Feeling conflicted by the push-pull of work and family life? New research suggests that regular exercise can help balance out those feelings.

Researchers examined the responses of 476 working adults who were surveyed about their exercise behavior and their confidence in handling work-family conflicts. Those who exercised regularly seemed to experience an increased feeling of competence that carried over into work and home roles, the study authors said.

"If, for example, you go for a two-mile jog or walk 10 flights of steps at work and feel good about yourself for doing that, it will translate and carry over into other areas of life," said study author Russell Clayton, an assistant professor of management at Saint Leo University in Florida.

"We found that [participants] who exercised felt good about themselves, that they felt that they could accomplish tough tasks, and that carried over into work and family life," Clayton added.

The study will be published in an upcoming issue of the journal Human Resource Management.

Volumes of research have shown that exercise lowers mental and physical stress levels, but few studies have focused on whether this stress reduction helps empower individuals to better manage their work-life balance.

Clayton said the study originated as a "pet project" after he realized his own adherence to exercise gave him perspective on integrating work and life. Also involved in the study were researchers from Saint Louis University, University of Houston-Victoria and Illinois State University.

Clayton acknowledged that the research method the study authors used -- having respondents answer questions and then tallying the answers through a mathematical technique -- did not offer hard numbers for the results.

Just over half (55 percent) of the study participants were women. In addition, the study noted, participants worked an average of 40 hours weekly and their average age was 41. About 29 percent had at least one child under age 18 living at home.

While the study found a link between physical activity and reports of greater empowerment at home and at work, it did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.

"But the associations between exercise and work-life balance are there, and they're very strong," Clayton said.

For those who don't exercise regularly, the idea of adding that regimen to a busy schedule to improve stress levels may seem counterintuitive, Clayton noted.

But he advocates the idea of "stolen moments" for exercise that add up, such as climbing the stairs for five minutes or doing jumping jacks in 30-second spurts.

"We hope our research can be a grain of sand in the beach of evidence we have to push corporations . . . to encourage employees to exercise," he added.

Dr. Natalie Digate Muth, spokesperson for the American Council on Exercise, said the study extends the evidence that physical activity offers benefits beyond the obvious.

"People should think of it as a kind of investment. If you put some time into physical activity," said Muth, "you may be active for 30 minutes a day, but the productivity and mental focus you're going to get out of it is going to far exceed what you put into it, from a work and family perspective."

source : Stressed by Work-Life Balance? Just Exercise
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Not in the Mood? How to Get Your Groove Back


This article is from the WebMD Feature Archive

How to break the no-sex rut and why it matters.

WebMD Feature

You're both tired. The kids are light sleepers. You're not happy with your weight. You're stressed out over deadline pressures at work. There are many reasons people in long-term relationships find themselves reaching for the pillow or the remote control instead of their partner's body after the sun goes down.

But a healthy sex life is a key part of an intimate relationship, and neglecting it can push the two of you further apart.

Problem No. 1: Same Old, Same Old

The Solution: Spice It Up

"When you're in a long-term relationship, you get into a routine," says ob-gyn Renee Horowitz, founder of the Center for Sexual Wellness in Michigan. "There's biological evidence that novel experiences cause the release of dopamine in the brain." Dopamine is a chemical messenger that affects the pleasure center in your brain. "That's why it's so much easier," Horowitz says, "to get excited in a new relationship -- everything is novel, and your brain responds accordingly."

Obviously, you can't switch partners every time the excitement wanes. But you can change up some of the other factors. "Try a different place, a different time, a different position," Horowitz says. Have a morning quickie. Try sex in the shower or in a different room in the house.

Problem No. 2: Too Much to Do, Too Tired

The Solution: Take a Romantic Break

All couples are tired at the end of a long day. And it’s hard to have energy for romance by the time you get everyone to bed and deal with chores. But that can be changed.

"You have to prioritize what's important," sex educator Sadie Allison, whose best-selling books include Ride ‘Em Cowgirl! and Tickle Your Fancy says."Tired as you might be, it's OK to just make it a quickie sometimes. Sex is so important to the overall health of your relationship."

Instead of waiting until it's time to put out the lights, take a break for a romantic encounter before you start the evening's chores, Allison says. "Make space and time where you can escape and get creative." She says it isn't going to happen spontaneously. "You have to find the time and make a date."

Problem No. 3: 'Who Are You?'

The Solution: Rediscover Each Other -- Without Pressure

If you haven't had sex for some time, a come-on from your partner can feel very artificial and forced. It helps to reconnect in a non-sexual way first, says psychotherapist Christina Steinorth. "If you haven't had any kind of quality time together, you're not going to feel sexual," she says.

Steinorth says it’s important to mix it up: Forgo the old “dinner and a movie” cliché in favor of something new, and make it a priority on your calendar. "Schedule time each week for date night. [Try a] shared experience: biking, bowling, something silly. Plan a trip to the farmer's market and a stop for a cup of coffee every Sunday morning. Let it become a habit," Steinorth says, "and you'll feel reconnected. The desire will just grow from there."

A quick sexual encounter may regain its excitement once you’ve reconnected. "When the relationship's alive like that, the 10-minute ‘let's sneak off and do it' quickie works great," Steinorth says. "It's like your little secret and helps further build the bond between you. But that bond has to be there in the first place."

source : Not in the Mood? How to Get Your Groove Back
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Thursday, 30 January 2014

Gradual Exposure to Peanuts May Help Some Allergic Kids


Experimental therapy increased tolerance, but much more testing needed, doctors say

WebMD News from HealthDay

Allergen-free foods, special diets alone cost

By Steven Reinberg

HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Jan. 30, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- For children and teens with peanut allergies, a new type of treatment might be a step closer to becoming a reality, according to a preliminary study from England.

The treatment, known as oral immunotherapy, involves eating small amounts of peanut protein, gradually increasing the amount in hopes of building up a tolerance to peanuts.

After six months of immunotherapy, 84 percent to 91 percent of children in the study could safely eat about five peanuts a day -- about 25 times more than they could tolerate before the therapy, the researchers found.

"Oral immunotherapy has once again shown promise that it may eventually be a treatment for food allergy," said Dr. Matthew Greenhawt, author of an editorial accompanying the study, which was published in the Jan. 30 issue of the journal The Lancet. "But it is still far from being ready for use outside of a research setting.

"There is much work to be done to thoroughly investigate the potential -- both good and bad -- of what oral immunotherapy can achieve," added Greenhawt, an assistant professor at the University of Michigan Food Allergy Center. "But study results like these are encouraging that we may be able to develop a future treatment for food allergy."

Greenhawt said there still are a lot of unknowns, including why this therapy works, which patients will benefit most and what the long-term side effects might be.

Dr. Gloria Riefkohl, a pediatrician at Miami Children's Hospital, echoed Greenhawt's comments.

"I think this is an interesting concept that needs further study," she said. "It's not going to work for all the patients we are seeing. And I don't think it's ready for use in the general population."

Right now, children with peanut allergies are prescribed epinephrine in the form of an injectable measured dose called an epinephrine pen, or EpiPen, which they carry with them at all times, Riefkohl said. Epinephrine is able to quickly counter anaphylaxis, a life-threatening allergic reaction.

Riefkohl said the new, experimental therapy isn't going to cure a peanut allergy or let these children indulge in a peanut butter sandwich. "What we are trying to decrease is the exposure that usually occurs accidentally and causes difficulty breathing or a rash or tickling in the mouth," she said.

For the study, a team lead by Dr. Andrew Clark, of Cambridge University Hospitals, randomly assigned 99 children, aged 7 to 16 years, with varying degrees of peanut allergy to one of two groups. The first group received 26 weeks of oral immunotherapy; the second group avoided peanuts or peanut-containing foods altogether. Avoidance is the current treatment for peanut allergy, the researchers said.

After six months, 24 of 39 children who received immunotherapy in the first phase were able to tolerate a daily dose of roughly 10 peanuts, compared with none of the kids in the avoidance group.

source : Gradual Exposure to Peanuts May Help Some Allergic Kids
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Drivers With ADHD May Be at Higher Risk for Serious Crashes


In large Swedish study, men who took their meds lowered their accident odds

WebMD News from HealthDay

Seat belt positioning could be one reason, study

By Dennis Thompson

HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 29, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Drivers with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are nearly 50 percent more likely to be in a serious car crash, a new study suggests.

Further, men with ADHD can dramatically decrease their risk of traffic accidents if they take medication for their condition, the Swedish researchers said.

"This study confirms the importance of treatment and medication for adults with ADHD as well as teens," said Ruth Hughes, CEO of Children and Adults With Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, a patient advocacy group.

"The core symptoms of ADHD include problems with sustained attention and impulsivity, which can have an adverse effect on driving safely," said Hughes, who was not involved in the new study. "All drivers with ADHD need to responsibly manage their treatment to reduce driving risks."

The new findings come from a review of more than 17,000 people in Sweden with ADHD, aged 18 to 46. Researcher Henrik Larsson and colleagues at the Karolinska Institute used databases to track whether the patients had been in a car accident between 2006 and 2009, and if they had a prescription for ADHD medication at the time.

Overall, having ADHD increased a man's risk of a traffic crash by 47 percent and a woman's risk by 45 percent, the researchers found.

They then investigated the role of medication in preventing crashes by determining whether people involved in a wreck had filled a prescription for ADHD medicine within the previous six months.

Dr. Lenard Adler, a professor of psychiatry at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City, said despite a broad definition of taking medication, "men [who were] treated substantially lowered their risk for accidents."

Access to ADHD medication reduced men's risk of a car wreck by 58 percent compared to men who did not take medication, according to the study. Women with ADHD, however, did not receive any significant benefit from medication in terms of car crashes.

The study, published online Jan. 29 in the journal JAMA Psychiatry, did not receive any funding from drug companies.

Breaking down the numbers further, the researchers estimated that between 41 percent and 49 percent of the car accidents involving men with ADHD could have been avoided if they had been taking their medication as prescribed.

About three out of five children with ADHD carry the disorder with them into adulthood, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. That amounts to about 8 million adults living with ADHD.

Previous research with ADHD patients in virtual-reality driving simulators found that they are more likely to speed, drive erratically, tap the breaks and accelerate into potential accidents, said Adler, who did not take part in the Swedish research.

source : Drivers With ADHD May Be at Higher Risk for Serious Crashes
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Kids Unlikely to Outgrow 'Baby Fat'


Overweight 5-year-olds face 4 times the risk of teen obesity, new research finds

WebMD News from HealthDay

By Serena Gordon

HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 29, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Baby fat may not be as cute as it looks, new research suggests.

Five-year-olds who carry around extra weight may face four times the risk of being obese at 14, compared to their normal-weight peers, the study found.

Of the children who became obese between the ages of 5 and 14, nearly half were overweight in kindergarten.

"We wanted to learn what are the ages of vulnerability and greater risk for new cases of obesity? We found that new cases of obesity tended to increase early on," said study author Solveig Cunningham, of Emory University in Atlanta.

In the report, published in the Jan. 30 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, the researchers also found that socioeconomic status or ethnicity had no impact on obesity.

"Obesity affects kids across all races and socioeconomic status. Children from the wealthiest groups tended to have somewhat lower obesity risks, but the differences weren't striking," Cunningham said.

Childhood obesity in the United States is a well-documented problem, growing from 4.2 percent in 1963-1965 to 15.3 percent in 1999-2000, according to background information in the study. Recent research suggests that the rates of childhood obesity may have plateaued, but it remains a serious problem.

To better identify ways to intervene and prevent childhood obesity, Cunningham and her colleagues wanted to see whether there were times of vulnerability across a child's life span, or if certain groups had a greater risk.

To do this, they evaluated data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study. This study included more than 7,700 kindergartners (average age 5.6 years) from across the United States. The children's weight and height were measured at seven different times until they were in eighth grade (average age 14.1).

At the start of the study, 12.4 percent of the children were obese. Another 14.9 percent were overweight. By eighth grade, 20.8 percent were obese and 17 percent were overweight.

The annual incidence of obesity -- that is the percentage of kids who become obese each year -- went from 5.4 percent during kindergarten to 1.7 percent between fifth and eighth grade.

Although the researchers don't know for sure why the annual incidence of kids becoming obese dropped as kids got older, Cunningham theorized, "the kids who were at high risk already became obese at younger ages."

She added, "Obesity is a complex, multi-faceted issue. Our findings show that focusing on young kids is important. Many of the children were at an unhealthy weight before school. Preferences and tastes may be set in early years, so that may be one of the good places to intervene."

"Parents need to stay focused on maintaining healthy weight and increasing activity." she noted. "At young ages, the focus shouldn't be on weight loss."

source : Kids Unlikely to Outgrow 'Baby Fat'
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Testosterone Therapy Might Increase Heart Attack Risk: Study


Researchers say risk doubles after treatment starts for men under 65 with heart problems and all men over 65

WebMD News from HealthDay

Satisfaction rises with age, but growing up in

By Kathleen Doheny

HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 29, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Testosterone therapy -- widely advertised as a way to help men improve a low sex drive and reclaim diminished energy -- might raise the risk of heart attack, according to new research.

The increased risk was found in men younger than 65 with a history of heart disease, and in older men even if they didn't have a history of the disease. In both groups, heart attack risk doubled in the 90 days after the men began testosterone therapy, said researcher William Finkle, CEO of Consolidated Research, in Los Angeles.

"It was more or less the same increase in risk," Finkle said.

Testosterone therapy typically is given in gel, patch or injection form, and is widely promoted in television advertisements about "low T." Although the treatment risk to men over 65 has been documented in previous research, Finkle said, the new study is believed to be the first to look at men under 65.

The study, published online Jan. 29 in the journal PLoS One, was conducted by a research team that included experts from Consolidated Research, the U.S. National Cancer Institute and the University of California, Los Angeles.

It was triggered by a 2010 report in the New England Journal of Medicine, Finkle said. In that study, a clinical trial of testosterone gel in men over 65 was halted early after an increase in heart attacks and other heart problems occurred in the group using the testosterone supplements.

Finkle's team used data from Truven Health Analytics, which gathers nationwide information on patient care. The researchers looked at the medical records of nearly 56,000 men who had been prescribed testosterone therapy -- more than 48,000 of whom were under age 65.

"We identified the [timing of the] first prescription and followed them for 90 days," Finkle said. The risk for heart attack doubled in that 90-day period for men over 65 and those under 65 with a history of heart disease, the researchers found.

When they continued to follow the men for another 90 days, the researchers said, the risk declined to the level it was at the study's start for men who did not refill their initial prescription.

Even though the two-fold increase in risk in younger men was seen only in those with a history of heart disease, Finkle said he's uncertain of the therapy's safety in younger, healthy men.

"We don't have enough evidence to say testosterone supplements in men under age 65 without heart disease are safe," he said.

Although the researchers found an association between testosterone therapy and increased risk of heart attack, the study did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.

The study authors also did not examine the explanation for the link, but Finkle said it could be tied to the effect of testosterone in blood.

source : Testosterone Therapy Might Increase Heart Attack Risk: Study
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FDA Wants to Update Food Labels


Goal is a better informed public

WebMD News from HealthDay

By Mary Brophy Marcus

HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Jan. 24, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- America's food labels may get their first makeover in more than 20 years.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the agency is working toward publishing proposed rules to update nutrition labels and serving size information.

The agency says its aim is "to improve consumer understanding and use of nutrition information on food labels," according to the FDA.

Nutrition labeling was introduced more than 20 years ago, and the FDA says the science and recommendations behind food labeling has changed since 1992.

"For example, the initial nutritional facts label focused on fat in the diet. There is now a shift to focus on calories to help consumers construct healthy diets," according to an FDA email.

The FDA has sent guidelines for the new labels to the White House, but there's no time frame yet on when they'll be launched, the FDA's deputy commissioner for foods, Michael Taylor, told the Associated Press.

Calorie listing is expected to be more prominent on the new label, and that could be useful to consumers, according to Regina Hildwine of the Grocery Manufacturers Association, which represents the nation's largest food companies.

She also told the AP that the FDA may be considering removing the "calories from fat" statement on the label.

The anticipated changes come at a time when more Americans are checking out nutrition labels on food products. An Agriculture Department study showed that 42 percent of working adults read the panel always or most of the time in 2009 and 2010, compared with 34 percent two years earlier, the AP reported.

The current labels have been useful, said Elisabetta Politi, nutrition director at the Duke Diet and Fitness Center at Duke University. "I think that the labels have done a pretty good job at highlighting nutrients we see Americans eating to excess or not enough of," Politi said.

Salt, for example, is a nutrient that Americans consume way too much of, said Politi, and having amounts of salt listed on labels has helped people track their intake.

Politi said she'd like to see serving sizes updated to reflect more realistic servings, though. "Soup, for example, the serving size is half a cup, but who eats half a cup of chicken noodle soup?"

Dana Angelo White, a sports dietitian and assistant clinical professor at Quinnipiac University in Connecticut, said sugar labeling could use an update. "Right now, the label just lists sugar but doesn't differentiate between added sugar and natural sugars like those in milk and fruit. I can't tell you how many times people say, 'I can't believe they add sugar to yogurt,' not knowing it's natural sugars."

Politi also said she'd like to see improved education about reading food labels in schools. "We learn math that we never, never use in our life, but not about food which involves decisions we have to make daily," she said.

source : FDA Wants to Update Food Labels
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New 'Bioengineered Skin' Gets Closer to the Real Thing


Successfully tested on rats, the lab-grown product has blood and lymph vessels, scientists say

WebMD News from HealthDay

Successfully tested on rats, the lab-grown

By Steven Reinberg

HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 29, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- People who need skin grafts because of burns or other injuries might someday get lab-grown, bioengineered skin that works much like real human skin, Swiss researchers report.

This new skin not only has its own blood vessels but also -- and just as important -- its own lymphatic vessels. The lymph vessels are needed to prevent the accumulation of fluids that can kill the graft before it has time to become part of the patient's own skin, the researchers said.

The discovery that lymph vessels can be grown in a laboratory also opens up "a broad spectrum of possibilities in the field of tissue engineering, since all organs in the human body -- with the exception of the brain and inner ear -- contain lymph vessels," said lead researcher Daniela Marino, from the Tissue Biology Research Unit at University Children's Hospital Zurich.

"These data strongly suggest that if an engineered skin graft containing both blood and lymph vessels would be transplanted on human patients, fluid formation would be hindered, wound healing would be improved and regeneration of a near natural skin would be greatly promoted," Marino said.

The researchers said that until now, bioengineered skin grafts had not contained much of the components of real skin, including blood and lymphatic vessels, pigmentation, sweat glands, nerves and hair follicles.

Blood vessels transport nutrients, oxygen and other essential factors that keep organs alive and functioning. Lymph vessels remove fluid from the tissue and return it to the bloodstream.

"When skin is wounded, fluid builds up in the damaged tissue," Marino said. "If not efficiently removed, it accumulates to form so-called seromas, which may impair wound closure and skin regeneration."

To create the new skin, Marino's group used human cells from blood and lymph vessels, placing them in a solution that scattered the cells onto a skin-like gel. After time in an incubator, the mixture grew into skin grafts.

The researchers then tested the grafts on rats, and found that the bioengineered skin turned into near-normal skin. After connecting the graft to the rats' own lymph system, it collected and drew fluid away from the tissue -- just as normal skin does.

Skin grafts grown this way might find their best use in patients with severe burns who do not have enough of their own healthy skin available for grafts, the researchers said.

Experts note, however, that experiments in animals don't always work out when tested in people. But Marino said she is hopeful that trials in humans are not too far away.

Not everyone is sure there will be a big role for these types of grafts, however.

Dr. Alfred Culliford, director of plastic, reconstructive and hand surgery at Staten Island University Hospital in New York City, called the bioengineered tissue "a technology in search of a purpose."

source : New 'Bioengineered Skin' Gets Closer to the Real Thing
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High Estrogen Levels Plus Diabetes May Boost Dementia Risk


Study of older women found having more of hormone from fat tissue after age 65 unwise

WebMD News from HealthDay

Study found older people forgot more upon waking

By Mary Brophy Marcus

HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 29, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Older women with high levels of the hormone estrogen may be at a greater risk for dementia, especially if they also have diabetes, new research suggests.

Using data from a large study that included more than 5,600 postmenopausal women aged 65 or older, French researchers measured estrogen levels in those without dementia who were not on hormone replacement therapy, medication that boosts estrogen levels.

Four years later, the scientists followed up by comparing the baseline estrogen levels they'd taken of 543 women from the study who did not have dementia with 132 women who had been diagnosed with dementia.

The investigators also looked at risk factors for dementia, including diabetes, high blood pressure and other heart health issues.

The researchers said the risk of dementia more than doubled for women who had high estrogen levels, even after accounting for other known risk factors for the memory-robbing disease. The findings are published in the Jan. 29 online edition of Neurology.

The risk increased even more in women with high estrogen levels and diabetes combined. Estrogen levels were about 70 percent higher in women with diabetes who also had dementia compared to those without dementia.

"Women with high E2 [estrogen] levels and diabetes may represent a group at very high risk of dementia," the study authors concluded.

The results were a surprise, said lead investigator Dr. Pierre-Yves Scarabin, director of research at the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM) in Villejuif, France. "We found an association between high levels of endogenous estrogen and the risk of dementia in older women not using hormone therapy," he said.

Endogenous estrogen is a hormone that the body makes naturally, explained Dr. David Carr, a professor of medicine and neurology in the division of geriatrics and nutritional science at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Estrogen levels go down after menopause, yet some women may have higher levels due to the amount of body fat they have, he noted.

"While it was long believed that estrogens -- either endogenous or therapeutic -- were good for women's health, especially for the heart and brain, our study together with other current data challenge this dogma," said Scarabin.

While the study found an association between estrogen levels and dementia risk, it did not prove a cause-and-effect link.

Dr. Sam Gandy, director of the Center for Cognitive Health at the Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, said, "It's a very interesting study. The most surprising thing is the fact that estrogen is so potent as a risk factor for dementia."

Gandy said there has been a fair amount of research conducted over the past five years showing that higher estrogen levels prior to the age of dementia risk -- before age 65 -- reduces the risk for dementia. "But once they enter the age of risk for Alzheimer's, higher estrogen seems to make things worse and that seems to be borne out by this study," said Gandy, also the associate director of the Mount Sinai Alzheimer's Disease Research Center.

source : High Estrogen Levels Plus Diabetes May Boost Dementia Risk
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Health Highlights: Jan. 29, 2014


WebMD News from HealthDay

Jan. 29, 2014 -- A poison created by bacteria in food may be a trigger for the autoimmune disease multiple sclerosis, according to a new study.

A toxin produced by the bacterium Clostridium perfringens seems to attack the same cells that are damaged in people with MS, according to researchers at Weill Cornell Medical College, NBC News reported.

"What we've shown is the toxins target the cells that are targeted in MS," researcher Jennifer Linden said. She's presenting the findings Tuesday at an American Society for Microbiology meeting.

C. perfringens causes a million cases of food poisoning in the United States each year. The researchers analyzed a small number of food products and found that about 13 percent of them contained C. perfringens, and nearly three percent tested positive for the toxin that may be linked to MS.

While it's too soon to suggest that food poisoning may cause MS, the study does raise the possibility that C. perfringens might play a role in activating the disease, Bruce Bebo, associate vice president of discovery research for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, told NBC News.

About 400,000 Americans have MS.

source : Health Highlights: Jan. 29, 2014
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Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Smartphone Apps for Diabetes: Do They Really Work?


You can use them to count carbs, log blood sugar, but users say they're no substitute for patient knowledge and a doctor's care

HealthDay – Not on Site

People with left-brain dominance tend to listen

By Serena Gordon

HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 29, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Managing diabetes requires a great deal of time, memory and math skills. There are carbohydrates to count, medication doses to calculate and blood sugar levels to track.

Today, there are numerous applications for smartphones and other devices that can help you keep your diabetes in check, although some people with the disease will tell you the technology still has a ways to go.

Applications -- or "apps" -- can help you with nutrition advice, carb counting, tracking blood sugar levels, medication alerts and managing kids with diabetes.

Many apps are free, and some offer both paid and free versions. Paid options may offer more bells and whistles, but you might find what you need in a free app.

The big question is: Can these apps help make diabetes management easier?

That depends largely on whom you ask. Some people are thrilled to have the assistance of these programs, while others feel that the currently available apps don't do enough to make them worthwhile.

"It's never been easier to manage diabetes with all the technological stuff we have at our fingertips," said Steve Lisowski, who lives in Chicago. Lisowski has had type 2 diabetes for 15 years, and currently uses an insulin pump and a continuous glucose monitor to help manage his diabetes. He has used nutrition apps and an overall diabetes-management app.

Lisowski said he isn't currently using the diabetes app much because his insulin pump does a lot of the same calculations and tracking.

One thing Lisowski said he would like to see is more compatibility between devices so they could all share information. For example, he said, it would be helpful if the information from his pump could be wirelessly transmitted to an app on his phone.

Lynn Marie O'Flaherty, whose 4-year-old daughter was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes last June, said there's definitely room for improvement in diabetes apps.

"The diabetes apps I have found to date are very disappointing," said O'Flaherty, who is from Yonkers, N.Y. "There are so many things they could be helping type 1 diabetics manage better in their day-in-and-day-out lives."

No matter what apps you use, they're no substitute for regular visits to your doctor and education by a dietitian, an expert said.

"Apps don't replace your doctor," said Shelley Wishnick, a diabetes educator and registered dietitian with the Friedman Diabetes Institute at Beth Israel Medical Center, in New York City. "You still have to understand the disease process. You have to understand your diabetes. An app can't replace your education."

Wishnick said she doesn't have a lot of patients who rely on diabetes apps yet -- or those who do don't bring it to her attention. There are a number of apps, such as iBGStar, OneTouch Reveal, OnTrack Diabetes, Glucool, Glooko and Glucose Buddy, that can help you track your blood sugar levels, she said.

source : Smartphone Apps for Diabetes: Do They Really Work?
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Drug May Extend Survival for Men With Advanced Prostate Cancer


Study participants hadn't received any treatment with chemotherapy

WebMD News from HealthDay

But it's too early to recommend anticoagulants

By Serena Gordon

HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Jan. 28, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- A new hormone therapy drug for men with prostate cancer may increase survival a bit and delay progression of the disease in men who have advanced prostate cancer that has been resistant to standard hormonal therapies, a new study suggests.

The study found that the drug enzalutamide increased survival by 29 percent and delayed disease progression by 81 percent in men who hadn't received any treatment with chemotherapy.

"There's new hope for men with very advanced prostate cancer," said study author Dr. Tomasz Beer, deputy director of the Knight Cancer Institute at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland. "This is a treatment with an excellent safety profile that can help men maintain quality of life and extend disease-free progression and extend survival."

The findings are scheduled to be presented Thursday at a meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncologists, in San Francisco. The study authors reported receiving research funding from the drug's manufacturers.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved enzalutamide in 2012 for use in men with advanced prostate cancer who have received chemotherapy. The drug is a type of hormone therapy called an androgen receptor blocker. Androgens are male hormones.

Enzalutamide is considered a second-generation hormone therapy. First-generation hormone therapy drugs for prostate cancer include bicalutamide, flutamide and nilutamide.

The current study included more than 1,700 men with prostate cancer that had spread to other areas of their bodies. The men's cancer also had progressed despite treatment with other types of hormone therapy. None of these men had yet been treated with chemotherapy. They had, however, been treated with surgery and radiation therapy.

Half of the volunteers were randomly assigned to receive enzalutamide and the other half received a placebo.

The study was stopped early because it was clear that enzalutamide offered a benefit over a placebo, so the drug was offered to all of the study volunteers.

"There was an 81 percent reduction in the risk of disease progression for men on enzalutamide," Beer said. "The median time to disease progression in placebo was [about four] months, but on the drug, a median time to disease progression hasn't been reached despite 20 months of follow-up."

When the study was stopped, 28 percent of those on enzalutamide had died, compared with 35 percent of those taking a placebo. The average median survival rate at the time of the first analysis was 32.4 months for those on enzalutamide versus 30.2 months for those taking a placebo.

"This drug is being used relatively early in prostate cancer, and patients can receive multiple treatments after," Beer said of the study population. Most of the men involved in the study were later treated with chemotherapy.

source : Drug May Extend Survival for Men With Advanced Prostate Cancer
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Premature Birth Linked to Asthma, Wheezing in Childhood


Study suggests respiratory problems don't improve with age in these kids

WebMD News from HealthDay

South has highest rates of infant mortality,

By Randy Dotinga

HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Jan. 28, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- A new analysis of existing research suggests that premature babies face a higher risk of developing asthma and wheezing disorders when they're older.

Researchers from Harvard Medical School, the Maastricht University Medical Center in the Netherlands and the University of Edinburgh in Scotland examined 30 studies that included about 1.5 million children.

They found that premature children (born before 37 weeks of gestation) were 46 percent more likely to develop asthma or wheezing problems than kids who weren't born prematurely. Full-term birth is generally considered about 40 weeks' gestation.

Very premature children (those born before 32 weeks' gestation) faced an even higher estimated risk -- almost three times that of children born at full term, said Jasper Been, from Maastricht University, and his colleagues.

About 11 percent of children are born prematurely, the study authors said in the report, which was published in the Jan. 28 online edition of the journal PLoS Medicine.

"The current findings do not support prior suggestions that the association between preterm birth and wheezing disorders becomes less prominent with increasing age," the researchers wrote in the report. "Instead, the strength of the association was similar across age groups [up to 18 years]," which suggests that the effects of preterm birth on the lungs tend to have life-long consequences.

Although the study found an association between premature birth and respiratory problems such as asthma later in life, it did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.

source : Premature Birth Linked to Asthma, Wheezing in Childhood
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Hearing Loss Tied to Faster Brain Shrinkage With Age


Follow-up studies needed to show whether treating hearing problems could delay mental decline, experts say

WebMD News from HealthDay

Study found seniors who struggled with hearing

By Amy Norton

HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Jan. 28, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Older adults with impaired hearing may have a faster rate of brain shrinkage as they age, a new study suggests.

A number of studies have found that older people with hearing loss tend to have a quicker decline in their memory and thinking skills, compared to those with normal hearing.

"We've known that common, age-related hearing loss is associated with cognitive [mental] decline. The question is, why?" said Dr. Frank Lin, an assistant professor at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, and the lead researcher on the new study.

The findings, he said, offer one potential explanation: Older adults with hearing problems lose brain volume more quickly than their peers with normal hearing.

The precise reason is not clear, and the real-life impact is unknown. The study did not test participants' actual mental ability.

But the "biggest question," Lin said, is whether treating hearing impairment can slow changes in brain structure and, more importantly, delay dementia.

He and his colleagues are now planning a trial to test that idea.

The current findings are based on 126 adults aged 56 to 86 who underwent yearly MRI scans to track brain-tissue changes for up to a decade. At the time of the first scan, they also had a physical and a hearing test. Of participants, 51 showed some degree of hearing loss -- mostly the mild variety where people have trouble hearing soft voices, for instance.

Lin's team found that older adults with hearing problems showed a faster decline in brain volume over the years -- especially in brain regions involved in processing sound and speech.

The study, published online Jan. 9 in the journal NeuroImage, cannot prove that hearing loss directly causes brain-tissue loss. But the basic "use it or lose it" principle may apply, according to Lin.

"The ear is no longer sending clear messages to the brain," he said. Without that input, sound-processing brain regions may change in structure.

What's more, Lin said, those brain areas have other jobs, too. Among other things, they play a role in memory and processing information other than sounds.

A hearing expert not involved in the study said it's "interesting," and raises the question of whether treating hearing impairment can prevent brain-tissue loss or slow mental decline.

"But we need a study to test that, and that study has yet to be done," said Dr. Ian Storper, an otologist at Lenox Hill Hospital, in New York City.

Even though researchers have found a link between hearing loss and mental decline, Storper noted, "that doesn't prove causation." Both hearing loss and brain-volume loss are common parts of aging, and there are many other variables that may be related to both, Storper added.

source : Hearing Loss Tied to Faster Brain Shrinkage With Age
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Breath Test May Detect Signs of Lung Cancer: Study


Examining breath samples from patients with suspicious growths might help determine who needs surgery

WebMD News from HealthDay

Supply of many medications needed to fight

By Robert Preidt

HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Jan. 28, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- A simple breath test might reveal if a person has early-stage lung cancer, according to a new study.

Researchers tested the exhaled breath of people with suspicious lung lesions that were detected on CT scans. The breath was tested for levels of four cancer-specific substances, called "carbonyls."

The breath samples were analyzed using a special device developed at the University of Louisville.

Having elevated levels of three of the four carbonyls was predictive of lung cancer in 95 percent of patients, while having normal levels of these substances was predictive of a noncancerous growth in 80 percent of patients, the researchers found.

Elevated carbonyl levels returned to normal after lung cancer patients had surgery to remove the cancer, according to the study, which was to be presented Tuesday at the Society of Thoracic Surgeons annual meeting in Orlando, Fla.

"Instead of sending patients for invasive biopsy procedures when a suspicious lung mass is identified, our study suggests that exhaled breath could identify which patients" may be referred for immediate surgery, study author Dr. Michael Bousamra, of the University of Louisville, said in a society news release.

This approach offers something new, he said, including "the simplicity of sample collection and ease for the patient."

The data and conclusions of research presented at medical meetings should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

source : Breath Test May Detect Signs of Lung Cancer: Study
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FDA Panel Considers First Pill for Ragweed Allergy


Placed under the tongue, it helps the body immunize itself against the offending plant

WebMD News from HealthDay

By Steven Reinberg

HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Jan. 28, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- There may be good news coming in the form of a pill for the millions of Americans who suffer from ragweed allergy.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Allergenic Products Advisory Committee will consider whether to recommend approval of the first pill to prevent this annual scourge.

Ragwitek, the brainchild of Merck & Co., is made of ragweed pollen and helps the body become immune to it. Patients begin taking the pill, which is placed under the tongue, 12 weeks before the ragweed pollen season begins and continue through the season's end. In the United States, the ragweed season usually starts in September and runs through the fall.

People suffering from ragweed allergy suffer stuffy noses with sneezing, itching and congestion, as well as itchy and watery eyes. These annoying symptoms can affect quality of sleep and hamper daily activities. Plus, these problems often precede the development of asthma.

Current treatments include a variety of nasal sprays, as well as shots specifically tailored to tame all of a patient's allergies.

Dr. Len Horovitz, a pulmonary specialist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, has his doubts about the power of this new pill. He said people who are allergic to ragweed often are allergic to other plants as well.

"I am skeptical that the pill will work on these other plant allergies," he said.

Another expert, however, said he sees this as a first step in making this kind of allergy treatment a real possibility.

"The whole idea of [under-the-tongue] immunotherapy has been in the background for some time," said William Blouin, an allergy and immunology nurse practitioner at Miami Children's Hospital. "Until this point, immunotherapy has to be done as a series of injections."

A pill would make life simpler, he said, because it wouldn't require the inconvenience of weekly doctor visits or the pain of injections. Blouin said the new pill is intended only for ragweed, so if a person was allergic to other plants it would mean taking a separate pill for each one.

"I understand that there are one or two similar pills in the pipeline," he said.

Last December, the same FDA advisory committee voted unanimously to recommend approval of a similar kind of pill for grass pollen allergies, known as Grastek. Merck is developing that pill in partnership with a European company.

"Conceptually, it's very desirable, especially for children," Blouin said. Although the pill has been tested only on adults, he said he expects it will be tested on teens and young children at some point.

During Tuesday's committee meeting, the panel will be asked whether the data supports the safety and effectiveness of Ragwitek for people aged 18 and older, and whether more studies are needed before making a recommendation to approve the product.

Merck's five trials showed both improvement in symptoms and in quality of life among those who were taking Ragwitek, the company said.

According to FDA documents, some patients experienced lip swelling, abdominal pain and diarrhea while taking the pill. Other side effects included swollen tongue, difficulty breathing and hives.

source : FDA Panel Considers First Pill for Ragweed Allergy
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Baldness Cure May Have Inched a Bit Closer


In mouse study, scientists say they've used stem cells to grow large numbers of active follicles

WebMD News from HealthDay

But not those with a receding hairline, say

By Robert Preidt

HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Jan. 28, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Scientists might be able to offer "hair-challenged" males a new glimmer of hope when it comes to reversing baldness.

Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania say they've gotten closer to being able to use stem cells to treat thinning hair -- at least in mice.

The researchers said that although using stem cells to regenerate missing or dying hair follicles is considered a potential way to reverse hair loss, it hasn't been possible to create adequate numbers of hair-follicle-generating stem cells -- specifically cells of the epithelium, the name for tissues covering the surface of the body.

But new findings indicate that this may now be achievable.

"This is the first time anyone has made scalable amounts of epithelial stem cells that are capable of generating the epithelial component of hair follicles," Dr. Xiaowei Xu, an associate professor of dermatology at Penn's Perelman School of Medicine, said in a university news release.

Those cells have many potential applications that extend to wound healing, cosmetics and hair regeneration, Xu said.

In the new study, Xu's team converted induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) -- reprogrammed adult stem cells with many of the characteristics of embryonic stem cells -- into epithelial stem cells. This is the first time this has been done in either mice or people, the researchers said.

The epithelial stem cells were mixed with certain other cells and implanted into mice. They produced the outermost layers of skin cells and follicles that are similar to human hair follicles, according to the study, which was published Jan. 28 in the journal Nature Communications. This suggests that these cells might eventually help regenerate hair in people, the researchers said.

Xu said this achievement with iPSC-derived epithelial stem cells does not mean that a treatment for baldness is around the corner. A hair follicle contains both epithelial cells and a second type of adult stem cell called dermal papillae.

"When a person loses hair, they lose both types of cells," Xu said. "We have solved one major problem -- the epithelial component of the hair follicle. We need to figure out a way to also make new dermal papillae cells, and no one has figured that part out yet."

Experts also note that studies conducted in animals often fail when tested in humans.

source : Baldness Cure May Have Inched a Bit Closer
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Peinados sensatos para un cabello saludable


Hace lo posible para que su cabello luzca fabuloso. Por eso, debe asegurarse de que al arreglarlo y teñirlo no se dañe.

El calor de la secadora, la rizadora y la plancha para el cabello puede hacerlo quebradizo y causar que se parta. Los tratamientos químicos, como teñido y alisado, pueden disminuir la humedad natural del cabello, dejándolo seco y encrespado.

Estas técnicas de peinado son más suaves y la ayudarán a lucir como quiere a la vez que evita el daño.

Trate con cuidado el cabello mojado

Sea delicada con su pelo cuando está mojado. Envuélvalo en una toalla. No lo frote para secarlo. Eso hace que se encrespe.

Use un peine de dientes anchos en vez de cepillo con el cabello mojado. Si es lacia, deje que se seque antes de peinarlo. Si es crespa, péinelo cuando todavía está húmedo.

No se jalonee el pelo seco o mojado. ¿Pasarse el cepillo cien veces al día? Esos son cuentos de viejas. Cepillarse el pelo demasiado hace que se dañen las puntas.

Un respiro del calor

Cada vez que pueda, séquese el cabello naturalmente. Esos días contribuyen a que el pelo se recupere.

Para un cabello lustroso sin usar calor, láveselo de noche, según Patrick Melville, copropietario de la peluquería Patrick Melville en Nueva York. Entre sus clientes están Heidi Klum, Halle Berry y Catherine Zeta-Jones. “Después de ducharse, cepíllese el cabello y tréncelo”, recomendó Melville. "No use la secadora con la trenza”.

Baje la temperatura

Cuando use la secadora, comience con el menor calor posible y vaya aumentando gradualmente. Si ve vapor, lo más probable es que se esté quemando el pelo. Mueva la secadora constantemente y manténgala a 6 pulgadas de su cabello.

Sea veloz. “Cuanto más rápida y fuerte sea, mejor para su cabello y menos daño le hará”, indicó Jonathan Antin, estrella de la serie Blow Out en Bravo TV y copropietario de la peluquería Jonathan & George en Beverly Hills, Calif.

Divida el cabello en secciones, sugirió Antin. Concéntrese en secar cada sección aproximadamente tres minutos, luego sujételo con un clip fuera de su camino para no exponerlo a calor adicional.

Use con cuidado los aparatos para el cabello

Si usa un aparato caliente como un peine especial, rizadora o secadora, escoja uno en que se pueda controlar la temperatura y limite el tiempo que le toca el pelo.

Prenda su rizadora a temperatura baja o media, y aplíquela en el cabello uno a dos segundos.

“No se derrita el pelo con una plancha”, dijo Antin. "Úsela solo cuando el cabello esté  seco y pásela solo por las puntas".

Para bucles con vitalidad sin usar la rizadora, pruebe ruleros de Velcro. “Póngase los rulos en el pelo por aproximadamente 20 minutos y tendrá mucho volumen y ondas suaves sin usar calor”, aseguró Lisa Lobosco, estilista principal de Ecru New York, que atiende a modelos que participan en New York Fashion Week.

source : Peinados sensatos para un cabello saludable
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GOP Senators’ New Health Overhaul Plan Would Tax Some Workers’ Benefits


By Mary Agnes Carey

Tue, Jan 28 2014

A health care overhaul plan released Monday by three Senate Republicans may reveal how the party will handle the issue for the 2014 elections and beyond.

Sens. Orrin Hatch of Utah, Tom Coburn of Oklahoma and Richard Burr of North Carolina unveiled a legislative framework that would scrap much of the 2010 health law, replacing those provisions with ones the lawmakers say will increase consumer choice and reduce health care costs.

“With our plan, we’ve shown once again that by empowering Americans — not Washington — with the right tools and information, they will make the best informed health care decisions for themselves,” Hatch said in a statement.

It would repeal the health law’s requirements on individuals and employers to purchase health care coverage. It would scrap the law’s Medicaid expansion and give states more control of Medicaid, scale back the size of tax credits to help people buy health insurance and scrap the law’s new taxes and fees. It would also eliminate the health insurance marketplaces set up under the federal health law.

Insurers would still be prohibited from imposing lifetime limits on coverage. Plans would be required to offer dependent coverage up to age 26, although a state could opt out of enforcing that provision on the insurers it regulates.

Insurers could charge an older person no more than five times what they charge a younger person — the health law only allows insurers to charge up to three times more to older people — but states could impose rating rules that were more or less restrictive.  Subsidies would be based on age  — not income — and be available to those up to 300 percent of the poverty threshold, not 400 percent as the health law does.

Individuals who maintain continuous coverage could not be charged more for a pre-existing medical condition, but if they have a gap in coverage they could be subject to medical underwriting, where insurers could charge them more for coverage based on their medical history.

The proposal would not change the long-standing practice of allowing employers to fully deduct the cost of providing health insurance. However, some employees getting very generous coverage would have to pay taxes on the value of some benefits. The proposal would cap the tax exclusion for an employee’s health coverage at 65 percent of an average plan’s cost.

“This step is necessary and important, because economists across the political spectrum largely agree that the current distortion in the tax code helps to artificially inflate the growth in health care costs,” according to the Senate GOP blueprint.

Senate GOP aides said the plan’s drafters did not want to discourage employers from offering health insurance, but instead wanted to create pressure from employees to reduce the cost of that coverage.

President Barack Obama’s health law includes a so-called Cadillac tax on plans that cost more than $10,200 for an individual or $27,500 for a family.  In 2018, those plans will incur an excise tax of 40 percent on the amount of the premium that exceeds those thresholds.

Hatch, Coburn and Burr would keep the health law’s Medicare policy changes and its $716 billion in provider cuts on the idea that any discussion of Medicare changes “should be considered in the context of reforms to improve Medicare and improve its insolvency,” according to the proposal.

Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan health policy research and communications organization not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

source : GOP Senators’ New Health Overhaul Plan Would Tax Some Workers’ Benefits
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Tuesday, 28 January 2014

DDT Exposure May Raise Alzheimer's Risk: Study


Researchers say those with the disease had 4 times higher blood levels of byproduct of banned pesticide

WebMD News from HealthDay

Worldwide situation calls for comprehensive

By Dennis Thompson

HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Jan. 27, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Exposure to the banned pesticide DDT appears to increase a person's risk of Alzheimer's disease, a new study reveals.

Blood drawn from a small sample of Alzheimer's patients contained nearly four times greater levels of a DDT byproduct than blood taken from a group of healthy people, researchers found.

Exposure to DDT appears to promote the development of amyloid beta plaques, which clog the neurons of Alzheimer's patients and are suspected to be a cause of the disease, said study author Jason Richardson, an assistant professor of environmental and occupational medicine at Rutgers-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Jersey.

The pesticide also might further increase Alzheimer's risk for people who already have a genetic predisposition toward developing the degenerative disease, Richardson said.

People scored significantly lower on logic and reasoning tests if they had high levels of the DDT byproduct and an Alzheimer's-prone version of the apolipoprotein E (ApoE) gene, compared with people who had similarly high levels of DDT but no genetic risk.

However, Richardson added that it's too soon to tell if the pesticide and the faulty gene have some sort of interaction or simply pose their own individual risk for Alzheimer's.

"They may just act separately, or they may converge. We don't know yet," he said of the two risk factors. "If both were on board, you did worse than if you had only one of them."

U.S. officials banned DDT in 1972 due to concerns over the pesticide's effect on wildlife, especially birds. Since the 1940s, it had been used extensively in agriculture and for mosquito control.

A worldwide ban on DDT use in agriculture has been in effect since 2004, but it has lingered in the environment and it is still in limited use in foreign countries where mosquitos carry malaria and other infectious diseases.

This research, published online Jan. 27 in JAMA Neurology, grew out of earlier research in which Richardson and colleagues linked the banned pesticide beta-hexachlorocyclohexane (beta-HCH) to Parkinson's disease.

That earlier study also contained a small sample of Alzheimer's patients, Richardson said. Those patients did not have elevated levels of beta-HCH but they did have higher levels of a byproduct of DDT called DDE. The researchers decided to go back and look into a possible link between DDT and Alzheimer's.

This new research is based on blood samples drawn from 86 Alzheimer's patients between 2002 and 2008.

Even though DDT has been banned for decades, it still turns up in human blood samples due to its long half-life, the authors noted. DDE can remain in a person's body for up to a decade, and despite the ban people still are exposed to DDT through imported food or contamination that remains in United States soil and waterways.

source : DDT Exposure May Raise Alzheimer's Risk: Study
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Yoga May Reduce Fatigue, Inflammation in Breast Cancer Survivors


Researchers think improved sleep may be the key to benefits

WebMD News from HealthDay

Numbers were lowered when people engaged in a few

By Brenda Goodman

HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Jan. 27, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Yoga may help breast cancer survivors beat the debilitating fatigue and sleep problems that often follow toxic treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation, a new study shows.

Fatigue can be a big challenge for cancer survivors.

"Even some years out from breast cancer treatment, anywhere from 30 to 40 percent of women report substantial levels of fatigue," said study author Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, a professor of psychology and psychiatry at Ohio State University in Columbus.

That may be due, in large part, to disrupted sleep. As many as 60 percent of cancer survivors say they have trouble sleeping, she noted, a rate that's two to three times higher than their cancer-free peers.

The end result is that many cancer survivors end up trying to drag themselves through their days.

"And it's a nasty downward spiral where increasing fatigue means less activity and less activity means increasing fatigue, so that over time less and less translates into greater frailty and decline," Kiecolt-Glaser said.

Kiecolt-Glaser, who studies the health effects of stress, wanted to see if it was possible to stop that cycle.

She and her colleagues, including her husband and research collaborator, Ronald Glaser, recruited 200 women aged 27 to 76 who were new to yoga and had finished treatment for breast cancer within the last three years. They had to be at least two months past their last treatment and otherwise healthy to participate.

The women were randomly assigned to one of two groups. The first group practiced the gentle, flowing poses of Hatha yoga for two 90-minute sessions each week for three months. The second group was placed on a waiting list.

Before and after the study, all the women answered detailed questions about their energy and vitality, mental health, the kind of support they felt they were getting from friends and family, their sleep, how active they were and even their diet. Researchers also performed blood tests to measure markers of inflammation.

The differences weren't immediately apparent. After three months of practice, women in the yoga group reported that they had more vitality and were sleeping better, compared to the group that was waiting to take the class.

And after their group sessions ended, most who were taking yoga gradually stopped practicing. Their physical activity went back to the level it was when they signed up for the study. Despite that, they continued to improve.

At the six-month mark, the women practicing yoga reported about 60 percent less fatigue than the women on the waiting list, and their measures of inflammation were 13 percent to 20 percent lower.

The longer they practiced yoga, the greater their improvements, Kiecolt-Glaser said.

source : Yoga May Reduce Fatigue, Inflammation in Breast Cancer Survivors
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Music Therapy May Help Teens With Cancer Cope


Writing lyrics, making videos helped them get through grueling treatment, connect with others, study found

WebMD News from HealthDay

Website may strengthen notion that you're a good

By Mary Brophy Marcus

HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Jan. 27, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Jefri Franks says one of the things that helped her 12-year-old daughter Heather cope with the challenges of having cancer was music therapy -- in particular, making a music video.

"I was relieved during the time she was doing the video because she had something she had to do and enjoy," Franks said. "She was busy in a good way. I think she got to tell her story the way she wanted to."

A new study from Indiana University appears to back up what Franks learned more than a decade ago. Researchers found that adolescents and young adults undergoing cancer treatment in the hospital who participated in a music therapy program that included writing song lyrics and producing videos increased their ability to cope and boosted their resilience.

For the study, published online Jan. 27 in the journal Cancer, researchers tested a music therapy intervention in 113 patients, aged 11 to 24, who were undergoing stem cell transplants for cancer. The treatment involves infusions of healthy stem cells that help replace diseased ones.

"The kids are usually very sick during stem cell transplants. They require a lot of supportive care," said study co-author Joan Haase, a professor of pediatric oncology nursing at the Indiana University School of Nursing. "Depending on the type of transplant, up to 50 percent of these kids undergoing stem cell transplant don't survive, so being able to say how they feel about that is important."

The patients were randomly assigned into either a therapeutic music video-making group or to a comparison group in which everyone received audio books. There were six sessions over three weeks.

The music therapist's role was to offer structure and support, and to help the young patients reflect on their experiences and identify what was important to them, said study lead author Sheri Robb, an associate professor at Indiana University School of Nursing and editor of the Journal of Music Therapy.

"It may seem counterintuitive to be asking kids to do things during this time, but in actuality it's helping them to move through their treatment in a better way," Robb said. Music therapists encouraged their patients to tap into important parts of their lives, including their spirituality, family and other relationships, she explained.

The phases of the intervention included writing song lyrics, making sound recordings, collecting video images and storyboarding. Patients could work independently or involve family, friends and health care providers in their projects, the authors noted.

Haase said the therapeutic music video group reported significantly better "courageous coping" skills. Even 100 days after the stem cell transplant treatments, the music video group reported significantly better social integration and family-environment experiences.

source : Music Therapy May Help Teens With Cancer Cope
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4 Tips for Baby Skin Care


By Betsy Riley
And Renee Bacher
WebMD Feature

Your baby's soft, cuddly skin is different from yours. It's more delicate, more easily irritated, and more sensitive to temperature and sun. Though toddlers are a bit tougher, they can still get rashes or itchy spots. Here's what can you do to protect that sweet skin.

Limit Baths for Little Ones

Bathing a baby every other day is enough, says Dawn Davis, MD, of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. More frequent baths can dry out your baby's skin. Infants under about 6 months old don't move around much, so they don't get into many messes. (Enjoy it while it lasts!)

Test bath water with your wrist to be sure it's warm, not hot. The inside of your wrist is the closest thing you've got to baby skin, says Davis. Fill the bath up to your baby's chest, rather than giving a sponge bath, so that your baby stays nice and warm. Of course, be sure you're holding him securely! Pat him dry, rather than rubbing his sensitive skin.

When kids start to crawl and eat solid food, they're ready for more frequent bathing.

Use the Right Cleanser Sparingly

For babies, use a mild cleanser only on body parts that get dirtiest: the scalp, face, neck, hands, feet, and diaper area. Gentle products made for infants are best. Traditional body washes or bar soaps can be acidic and can irritate tender skin. Look for products labeled:

  • Tear free
  • pH neutral
  • No dye
  • No fragrance

Toddlers can handle more products, but they still do best with mild cleansers. "Toddlers can be messy," Davis says. "They think they're the boss of their bath time behavior, so they can get soap in their eyes or mouth."

Be sure to check a cleanser's list of ingredients, says Elaine C. Siegfried, MD, of Saint Louis University. The word "natural" on the front doesn't mean it's right for a baby. "Remember, poison ivy is natural," Siegfried says. "It's the back, not the front, of the package that counts."

Moisturize as Needed

Creams and ointments made for babies are good choices if your little one needs a moisturizer.  Their thick, rich texture may lock in moisture better than lighter products. Petroleum jelly works well, too. On tiny newborns, use any moisturizer sparingly.

Start Sun Protection Right Away

Keep your baby in the shade, if possible. Their skin is thinner and more sensitive. Cover them up with clothes and a hat, limit their time in the sun (especially between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., when the sun is strongest), and don’t let them get overheated. If your child shows any signs of sunburn or dehydration, get them out of the sun immediately.

If they absolutely need to be out in the sun, put a little bit of sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 on small areas such as the cheeks and back of the hands, after first trying a small amount on your baby’s wrist to check for sensitivity. 

For older babies and toddlers, look for gentle, broad-spectrum sunscreens with SPF 30 or higher. Reapply it liberally every two hours, and after swimming or sweating. Avoid the sun, especially when the sun is strongest (between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.) and watch out for reflections off of water or snow. 

source : 4 Tips for Baby Skin Care
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Twenty U.S. Kids Hospitalized Each Day for Gun Injuries: Study


Nearly a third of these shootings are accidental, study finds

WebMD News from HealthDay

By Dennis Thompson

HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Jan. 27, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Gunshot wounds send about 20 children to the hospital every single day in the United States, a new study says.

A review of hospital records found that firearms caused 7,391 hospitalizations among children younger than 20 during 2009, the most recent year for which records are available, said Dr. John Leventhal, lead study author.

Of those shooting victims, 453 died while in the hospital.

More than half of the gun injuries involved an attack on the child, but nearly one-third were unintentional, the investigators found. (Others were of undetermined causes or from suicide attempts.) Three of four hospitalizations of children younger than 10 resulted from accidental injuries.

"Three firearms-related patients each day are younger than 15 years of age," Leventhal said. "This is a tragedy. There are substantial injuries to these children that may have lifelong consequences."

Leventhal is a Yale professor of pediatrics and medical director of the Yale-New Haven Children's Hospital child abuse program.

The study found that boys are overwhelmingly more likely to suffer a gunshot wound, with nine of 10 cases involving male patients. Black boys had a gunshot hospitalization rate more than 10 times that of white boys.

The most common types of firearm injuries were open wounds (52 percent), fractures (50 percent), and internal injuries of the chest, abdomen or pelvis (34 percent), the report showed.

A smaller percentage of children suffered injuries that could cause long-term disability. About 15 percent of children had traumatic brain injury or an injury to the nerves or spinal cord following their shooting, conditions that often require years of rehabilitation.

"Those don't necessarily heal," Leventhal said. "Those children will struggle with these injuries for the rest of their lives."

About 84 percent of these shootings involved teens aged 15 to 19, and two-thirds of those were related to assaults. While the study's database does not provide specifics, Leventhal said it's natural to assume that gang violence explains some of these gunshot injuries.

"Some of these are school shootings, some are gang-related, some are related to fights or disagreements," he said. "They all relate to access to guns."

These figures highlight the importance of firearms safety, said Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association.

"We've heard figures like that before," Benjamin said of the 20-victim daily average. "It's a lot more common than people think, even though that's a pretty robust number," he added.

"People have firearms at home for a variety of reasons. Some people think they are safer with them, but the evidence shows that's not the case," Benjamin said. "Far too often, there was a firearm under a mattress or a parent who put a firearm up high in the closet, way in the back -- but that's exactly where a child will look."

source : Twenty U.S. Kids Hospitalized Each Day for Gun Injuries: Study
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Adults With Diabetes Need a Flu Shot: Experts


Large Canadian study finds people with diabetes are more likely to get sick from flu, be hospitalized

WebMD News from HealthDay

U.S. experts also say egg allergy is no longer

By Steven Reinberg

HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Jan. 24, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Adults with diabetes are vulnerable to flu and its complications, experts say. Now a large new study finds they're also at higher risk of being hospitalized for flu.

The study, which focused on people aged 18 to 64, provides support for guidelines advising people with diabetes to get a flu shot, the Canadian researchers said.

"Working-age adults with diabetes appear to have an increased risk of being hospitalized associated with influenza compared to similar-aged adults without diabetes," said lead researcher Jeffrey Johnson.

"This increased risk is small (6 percent), but nonetheless is justification for targeting adults with diabetes to get vaccinated," said Johnson, director of the Alliance for Canadian Health Outcomes Research in Diabetes at the University of Alberta.

The American Diabetes Association, the Canadian Diabetes Association and government agencies in both countries recommend flu shots for people with diabetes, Johnson said.

To look at the effect of flu shots, Johnson and his colleagues used data on more than 160,000 men and women in Manitoba province from 2000 to 2008. Their average age was about 51.

People with diabetes tended to have more health problems than people without diabetes, the researchers found.

People with diabetes were more likely to get flu shots than people without the disease, the study showed. Even so, people with diabetes had 6 percent greater odds of being hospitalized for flu than those without diabetes.

For Johnson, one important question remains unanswered: Just how effective is the vaccine in preventing people with diabetes from getting the flu?

"That piece of evidence is still not clear, and was not part of this study," he said. "The current evidence of this is very weak [and has] many limitations, so we actually don't know how well these vaccinations work."

Nonetheless, there is relatively little harm in getting vaccinated, Johnson said. These findings provide support for the current guidelines and for getting an annual influenza vaccination, especially for adults living with diabetes, he said.

The report was published Jan. 24 in the journal Diabetologia.

Dr. Spyros Mezitis, an endocrinologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, said people with diabetes have weakened immune systems. "Diabetics are not as strong in defending themselves against disease, and that's why they need to get the flu vaccine," he said.

Flu shots are recommended for the general public as well, another expert said.

The recommendation in the United States is that everyone 6 months and older get a flu shot, said Dr. William Schaffner, chairman of the department of preventive medicine at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.

This is especially important for people at risk for complications from flu, including people with chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart or lung disease, and pregnant women, he said.

source : Adults With Diabetes Need a Flu Shot: Experts
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Let Your Nose Guide You to Less Fatty Foods


Study finds people could spot high- and low-fat milk through smell alone

WebMD News from HealthDay

By Robert Preidt

HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Jan. 24, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- How fatty is that food in front of you? Your nose knows, a new study suggests.

The study, which found that people's sense of smell is adept at gauging foods' fat content, might have real-world uses. For example, it might be possible to manipulate food products' odor to make low-fat items more appealing, thereby cutting the amount of fat in people's diets, said researchers at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia.

"The human sense of smell is far better at guiding us through our everyday lives than we give it credit for," study senior author and neuroscientist Johan Lundstrom said in a center news release. "That we have the ability to detect and discriminate minute differences in the fat content of our food suggests that this ability must have had considerable evolutionary importance."

Fat is "calorie dense" and has been an important source of energy for humans through much of evolution, the researchers said. This means it would have been to our advantage to be able to detect the nutrient in food.

To test people's ability to smell fat in food, the researchers had volunteers smell milk with three amounts of fat found in a typical milk product: 0.125 percent, 1.4 percent or 2.7 percent fat.

The test was conducted three times using different sets of participants: in Philadelphia with normal-weight people, in the Netherlands with normal-weight people; and again in Philadelphia with both normal-weight and overweight people.

In all three experiments, people were able to use their sense of smell to detect the different levels of fat in the milk, regardless of their culture or weight, according to the study, which was published Jan. 22 in the journal PLoS One.

Study lead author Sanne Boesveldt, a sensory neuroscientist, said the next step is identifying the odor molecules in the food that allow people to detect fat levels.

"Fat molecules typically are not airborne, meaning they are unlikely to be sensed by sniffing food samples," Boesveldt said in the news release. "We will need sophisticated chemical analyses to sniff out the signal."

source : Let Your Nose Guide You to Less Fatty Foods
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Monday, 27 January 2014

Let Your Nose Guide You to Less Fatty Foods


Study finds people could spot high- and low-fat milk through smell alone

WebMD News from HealthDay

By Robert Preidt

HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Jan. 24, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- How fatty is that food in front of you? Your nose knows, a new study suggests.

The study, which found that people's sense of smell is adept at gauging foods' fat content, might have real-world uses. For example, it might be possible to manipulate food products' odor to make low-fat items more appealing, thereby cutting the amount of fat in people's diets, said researchers at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia.

"The human sense of smell is far better at guiding us through our everyday lives than we give it credit for," study senior author and neuroscientist Johan Lundstrom said in a center news release. "That we have the ability to detect and discriminate minute differences in the fat content of our food suggests that this ability must have had considerable evolutionary importance."

Fat is "calorie dense" and has been an important source of energy for humans through much of evolution, the researchers said. This means it would have been to our advantage to be able to detect the nutrient in food.

To test people's ability to smell fat in food, the researchers had volunteers smell milk with three amounts of fat found in a typical milk product: 0.125 percent, 1.4 percent or 2.7 percent fat.

The test was conducted three times using different sets of participants: in Philadelphia with normal-weight people, in the Netherlands with normal-weight people; and again in Philadelphia with both normal-weight and overweight people.

In all three experiments, people were able to use their sense of smell to detect the different levels of fat in the milk, regardless of their culture or weight, according to the study, which was published Jan. 22 in the journal PLoS One.

Study lead author Sanne Boesveldt, a sensory neuroscientist, said the next step is identifying the odor molecules in the food that allow people to detect fat levels.

"Fat molecules typically are not airborne, meaning they are unlikely to be sensed by sniffing food samples," Boesveldt said in the news release. "We will need sophisticated chemical analyses to sniff out the signal."

source : Let Your Nose Guide You to Less Fatty Foods
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Saturday, 25 January 2014

Carbohydrate And Healthy Diet Plan For Men

To maintain men’s health is a challenge for working men. A balanced diet plan retains all health problems away from you. Balance and healthy diet contain balance nutritious foods which are essential for the health of men. An unbalance diet plan helps in rapid increase of weight. So how can a working men or women find out which is better and the best diet plan for health?

Healthy diet comprises all the essential nutrients required for healthy body in a balanced quantity.  In this blog we focus on a healthy diet needed for healthy body. Do not remove carbohydrate completely from body because carbohydrate is essential composite that helps in right functioning of energetic responses in a healthy body. These carbohydrates produce energy which is required for our body for activities. These carbohydrates should be used up during breakfast as part of stable health diet plan.

source : Carbohydrate And Healthy Diet Plan For Men
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10 Cancer Symptoms Women Shouldn't Ignore


You don't need to panic, but you shouldn't assume these signs are 'nothing,' either. Plus three ways to lower your risk.

By Christina Boufis
WebMD Magazine - Feature

Reviewed by Nivin Todd, MD, FACOG

When Caryl Engstrom, 49, found a lump in her right breast, she knew something was wrong. Despite a normal mammogram 2 months earlier and recent breast exams by her internist and gynecologist, who found nothing amiss, Engstrom knew she needed to call her doctor right away. "I just had a gut feeling. It was a sizable lump and just didn't feel right to me." 

Engstrom's suspicions turned out to be correct when a biopsy revealed she had stage 2 breast cancer

Although almost 65% of women over 40 have had a mammogram in the last 2 years, according to the CDC, cancer isn't always caught by screening tests. 

And when women do suspect something, fear sometimes prevents them from seeing a doctor right away, says Beth Y. Karlan, MD. She's the director of the Women's Cancer Research Program at Cedars-Sinai's Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute in Los Angeles. Or women downplay or misinterpret symptoms that could point tocancer. 

"They say, 'Oh, this bloating is nothing. It can wait,'" Karlan says. "There's this idea that if you look into it, if you acknowledge the symptoms, then something is going to change in your life, and you don't want it to change. 

"But warning signs do not mean cancer," she adds. "Even if you have all of them. There are many other benign diagnoses or physiological changes that can also cause warning signs." For instance, you can have bloating, low back pain, and pelvic pressure and just have fibroids, Karlan says. 

But if your symptoms are "persistent and progressive," she says, "meaning you wake up every morning and feel something and it has you worried -- even for 2 weeks in a row -- it really is worth calling your physician and having it checked out." 

Regular checkups and screening tests such as Pap smears and mammograms, as well as knowing your own body, are all crucial for good health, Karlan says. 

Which changes are worth bringing to your doctor's attention? We've asked experts about the symptoms you need to keep on your radar screen.

1. Breast Changes

"If you feel a lump, you shouldn't ignore it, even if your mammogram is normal," says Carolyn Runowicz, MD. She's a breast cancer survivor and past president of the American Cancer Society. If your nipple gets scaly or starts flaking, that could indicate Paget’s disease of the nipple, which is linked to an underlying cancer in about 95% of cases. Any milky or bloody nipple discharge should also be checked out. 

Dimpling of the skin over the breast, particularly if it looks like the skin on an orange, "is something to be worried about," Karlan says. Such dimpling is most often linked to inflammatory breast cancer, a rare, usually aggressive cancer characterized also by swollen, hot, red breasts. 

Expect your doctor to do a breast exam and medical history, followed by a mammogram and most likely a sonogram. Depending on the results of both tests, your doctor might do a biopsy. 

source : 10 Cancer Symptoms Women Shouldn't Ignore
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