10 Mid-March Medical News Shorts For Those Who Like Them Brief
There is so much medical and health news coming out daily, it's hard to keep up with them. I attempt to cover what I think are the most interesting and most relevant stories to our readers, but miss so many that fit into that big pond. So today, I thought I would cover more news in less space by blurbing instead of blogging. These are stories that have come out in the last few days. I'll start with something on the light side....
1. Men Schedule More Vasectomies During March Madness
It's been an urban legend that men schedule their optional surgeries, like vasectomies, during March Madness week. But now there are clinics that promote special deals during the NCAA tournament, some starting with the tournament on Thursday evening. "That's how it works. We suggest the guys ice it and stay off their feet for 24 hours, says Dr. Bill Utz in Minneapolis whose schedule is full this weekend. "Some will take it a little farther than that." Oh, by they way, Dr. Utz is also booked for the Masters golf tournament. (TwinCities.com)
2. Cloves Are The New Super-Food!
You thought it was reservatrol, the phenol antioxidant found in wine. Or in blueberries, raspberries... green tea? Apparently, though I'd be hard pressed to eat as many, the ultimate antioxidant is cloves. Professor Juana Fernández-López, from Spain's Miguel Hernández University, tested five top antioxidants and discovered that cloves have the highest capacity to give off oxygen. The professor's research team is looking for natural spice antioxidants, such as those in the highly-touted Mediterranean Diet, to replace some of the synthetic antioxidants currently used in food production to enhance the sales life of certain foods. (Telegraph, UK)
3. Loneliness Increases Blood Pressure
A University of Chicago study reported in Psychology and Aging found that those who identified themselves as being lonely had progressively higher blood pressure after two years which continued to increase until the study ended after four years. So a lack of connection with others, what some euphemistically call introspection, is bad for your health as well as your happiness. (Telegraph,UK)
4. I-Spy 2 Trial: Collaborative Testing Of Breast Cancer Drugs
Abbott, Amgen, and Pfizer pharmaceutical companies have agreed to work with the FDA and the National Cancer Institute to test their new breast cancer drugs at the same time on the same population. (I can't write yahoo in large enough letters.) Breast cancer patients will be given personalized medicine based on a DNA match to one of five new drugs made by the above companies. It's estimated that a new drug takes as much as 15 years to get to market. The collaboration of all drug companies in testing should ferret out the weaker drugs faster to push the effective ones to the market much faster. (Reuters, I-Spy 2 Trial)
5. Changes In White Matter Can Predict Disability In Later Years
Maybe we will get to the place, one day, where insurance will cover a thorough range of diagnostic tests on our brains - like when we reach 40 or 45, when there's still time to do some prevention. The University of Connecticut's Dr. Leslie Wolfson has shown that changes in white matter in the brain can foretell areas of disability as a person ages, like difficulty in thinking, walking, and even incontinence. Though this study unveils new information, it is not the first, by any means, to scream "We can prevent disease in old age if we just get the data!" (University of Connecticut)
6. Intensified Radiation Doubled Pulmonary Tumor Control
Radiation treatments for cancerous tumors are generally given in 20 to 30 sessions after surgical removal of the tumors. But in a study at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, researchers performed radiation therapy in one-to-five intense treatments on early-stage, inoperable, cancerous lung tumors. Among 55 patients, more than half survived for three years and 48.3 percent were still disease free. Though tumor growth in the lungs was controlled in an astounding 97.6 percent of the patients, 22 percent did develop cancers in other parts of their bodies. (Reuters)
7. Non-Melanoma Skin Cancers Have Reached Epidemic Proportions
Despite the many government campaigns and news stories informing the public about the dangers of sun exposure, the prevalence of non-melonoma skin cancers went up 16 percent from 2002 to 2006. Basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma is now the leading cancer in the U.S., one mathmetical model suggesting that the number is five times higher than either breast or prostate cancer. I'm sure the researchers took this into account, but could the number be higher because baby boomers who soaked up sun with aluminum reflectors are only now getting the tumors? (MedPageToday.com)
8. Psychopaths, Like Addicts, Are Wired To Rewards
Researchers at Vanderbilt University administered personality tests to volunteers and evaluated the tests based on traditional scales of psychopathology. They then gave the subjects amphetamines, observing their brain's dopamine response through fMRI. In the second part of the study, subjects were told that they would receive money for performing a simple task; again, fMRI was used to check the dopamine response while the tasks were being performed. In both parts of the test, dopamine response was much higher among those testing high in psychopathic traits. The researchers contend that it is not the absence of fear or guilt that distinguishes a psychopath, but the much stronger drive for rewards. Essentially, the same fMRI observations occur in violent and addictive personalities. (Vanderbilt University)
9. Supernormal Stimuli: What We Crave Overrides Our Natural Instincts
Deirdre Barrett, assistant clinical professor of psychology in Harvard Medical School’s Psychiatry Department, has authored a new book, “Supernormal Stimuli: How Primal Urges Overran Their Evolutionary Purpose," in which she strongly suggests that what we are introduced to by advertising, pornography, education and even our parents, is largely supernormal stimuli; stuff we don't need. Actually, this book sounds more interesting than I make it appear. (Physorg)
10. Super Obesity In Children
Actually, the correct term is "extreme obesity," a category of children even fatter than fat. Kaiser Permanente in Southern California conducted the study which found that of 700,000 children, aged 2 to 19, who visited Kaiser clinics in 2007 and 2008, 37.1 percent were overweight, 19.4 percent were obese and 6.4 percent were extremely obese. The prevalence of extreme obesity was highest among Hispanic boys and black girls. Age peaks occurred at 10 years old in boys and at 12 and 18 for girls. This is a big health issue now, but is certain to be a bigger health issue as these children age, not to mention the psychosocial issues these kids will face. (WebMD)
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