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Bacteria Could Be Weapon Against Mosquito-Borne Dengue

By Robert Preidt
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Nov. 22, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Lab-altered mosquitoes have made a big dent in the spread of dengue fever, researchers report.

How? Australian scientists released mosquitoes carrying a bacteria that prevents transmission of the dengue virus.

The strategy resulted in a 76% decrease in dengue transmission in a community in Indonesia that has frequent dengue outbreaks. Similar reductions were seen in an urban area near Rio de Janeiro, and around Nha Trang, Vietnam.

Releases of Wolbachia-carrying mosquitoes in Far North Queensland, Australia, that began eight years ago led to a 96% decline in cases of dengue transmission, the World Mosquito Program (WMP) researchers said.

The findings were presented Nov. 21 at the annual meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, in National Harbor, Md. Such research is considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Dengue is a mosquito-borne virus that causes intense joint pain and can also trigger deadly complications. There are no drugs to treat dengue infection. There is a vaccine, but it’s been plagued with safety problems.

There’s been a worldwide increase in dengue infections, and there are fears that climate change will make it worse, the investigators said.

“We are very encouraged by the public health impact we are seeing — it highlights the potential of this approach to fight dengue and related mosquito-borne diseases at a global scale,” said Cameron Simmons, director of impact assessment and an expert in the epidemiology of dengue at WMP.

“Evidence is rapidly accumulating that areas where Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes have been deployed have fewer reports of dengue than untreated areas,” Simmons added in a meeting news release.

Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes are created in the laboratory by injecting the bacteria into their eggs. The bacteria also has been shown to inhibit chikungunya and Zika, according to the researchers.

The Wolbachia field tests are ongoing and, given the promising results to date, are being expanded to Colombia, Sri Lanka, India and Western Pacific island nations.

WebMD News from HealthDay

Sources

SOURCE: American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, news release, Nov. 21, 2019

Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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Could Short People Have an Advantage When It Comes to A-Fib?

TUESDAY, Nov. 19, 2019 — Tall folks might be able to reach that high top shelf, but there’s a price — they may be more likely to develop a potentially dangerous abnormal heart rhythm than shorter folks.

New research finds that a person’s risk of atrial fibrillation (a-fib) increases by about 3% for every inch over the average height of 5-foot-7.

Further, it appears that certain genes linked to height also are associated with a-fib, said lead researcher Dr. Michael Levin, a cardiology fellow at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine.

Atrial fibrillation is a quivering or irregular heartbeat that increases a person’s risk of stroke fivefold. It also raises risk of blood clots, heart failure and other heart-related diseases, the American Heart Association says.

Knowing that tall folks are at increased risk of a-fib could help prevent deaths and disease related to the heart condition, Levin said.

“While we can’t change your height, we may be able to modify other risk factors for a-fib in taller individuals and be more aggressive about controlling blood pressure or diabetes or cholesterol,” Levin said.

For this study, Levin and his colleagues analyzed genetic data from two international databases.

They looked specifically at genetic variants associated with height in one group of more than 700,000 people, and then identified mutations associated with a-fib in another group of more than 500,000 people.

Statistical analysis revealed that genetic variants linked with height were also strongly associated with a-fib, the researchers found.

Taking it a step further, they then analyzed medical data on nearly 7,000 individuals enrolled in a biobank at the University of Pennsylvania.

They found that height — and the genetic variants associated with height — are both strongly associated with an increased risk of a-fib.

However, they’re still at a loss for an explanation why, Levin said, and the study did not prove cause and effect.

One theory has held that tall people have larger hearts, and the size of the heart might increase a-fib risk, he said.

“We were able to adjust for that, and it doesn’t seem to be related to heart size,” Levin said.

Even without an easy explanation, the identification of genes associated with both height and a-fib opens up new doors for future research, said Dr. Michael Valentine, who reviewed the findings. He is immediate past president of the American College of Cardiology and a specialist in cardiac rhythm.

“I thought it was fascinating when they separated all other genetic factors, that height turned out to be a positive factor in the development of atrial fib,” said Valentine, a senior cardiologist at the Stroobants Cardiovascular Center of Centra Health in Lynchburg, Va.

“With the epidemic of a-fib we see in the world and an aging population, we’re going to need earlier and more effective genetic markers to determine where we can have impact on the disease earlier in life,” Valentine said.

The findings were presented this weekend at the American Heart Association’s annual meeting, in Philadelphia. Such research is considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

More information

The American Heart Association has more about atrial fibrillation.

© 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: November 2019

Drugs.com – Daily MedNews

Cheap, Older Gout Drug Could Be a Lifesaver After Heart Attack

By Dennis Thompson
HealthDay Reporter

SUNDAY, Nov. 17, 2019 (HealthDay News) — A cheap drug that’s been around for centuries as a gout treatment might also shield heart attack survivors from future heart crises, new trial results show.

The drug, colchicine, is derived from a plant called the autumn crocus, researchers explained Saturday at the annual meeting of the American Heart Association, in Philadelphia.

In the new trial, colchicine reduced by as much as 34% a heart attack survivor’s combined risk of either dying from heart disease or having cardiac arrest, a heart attack, a stroke or angioplasty.

Experts described the study as a “landmark” effort.

“These results provide confirmation that inflammation management reduces cardiovascular risk, and it was an example of a successful repurposing of a broadly available and relatively safe generic drug for a new application,” said Dr. Aruna Pradhan, a preventive medicine doctor at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

Colchicine currently is used to treat gout and pericarditis (inflammation of the heart’s lining), two conditions caused by inflammation, said lead researcher Dr. Jean-Claude Tardif, director of research at the Montreal Heart Institute.

“You just give a few tablets of colchicine and the pain, the warmth, the redness, all the inflammatory signs go away,” Tardif said.

Tardif and his colleagues reasoned that colchicine might be able to reduce the risk of future heart problems by lowering inflammation in heart attack patients.

The trial involved more than 4,700 heart patients, with about half given daily low-dose colchicine taken by mouth and the rest provided a placebo. Nearly all patients also received the drug regimen normally prescribed to heart attack survivors — aspirin, blood thinners, statins and/or beta blockers.

Three years later, results showed that people on colchicine fared significantly better than those taking a placebo.

Besides the 34% reduction in all adverse heart events, the trial also found that patients taking colchichine had a 74% reduction in stroke risk, and a 50% reduction in their likelihood of being rushed to hospital for angioplasty/stenting after suffering chest pain.

The drug also appears to be safe. The most concerning side effect appears to be an increased risk of pneumonia, which affected about 1% of colchicine patients. Pradhan said pneumonia risk might be affected by the drug’s effect on inflammation.

Continued

Tardif said his research team is proceeding with a second trial focusing on heart risk among patients with type 2 diabetes.

Based on these findings, heart doctors will be thinking long and hard about adding colchicine to the drug cocktail prescribed to heart attack patients, said Dr. Donald Lloyd-Jones, chair of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

“When you have a safe drug that is easily available, it’s going to be hard to hold this back,” Lloyd-Jones said.

The trial was funded by the provincial government of Quebec and received no drug company funding. However, colchicine’s new promise already appears to be affecting its sticker price, even though it’s a generic drug, Lloyd-Jones added.

He said that he recently saw a patient with gout on Thursday who complained that his colchicine prescription costs had unexpectedly skyrocketed.

“He told me that just in the last month, his colchicine out-of-pocket costs went from $ 50 to $ 270 a month in Chicago,” Lloyd-Jones said. “I really wonder whether there’s some gaming going on here, and I do not want to see that.”

Tardif expressed shock, given colchicine’s low cost in Canada.

“There’s something wrong with a system where 90 minutes away you get a drug for 50 times less what others are paying,” Tardif said, referring to what his patients pay in Montreal, an hour-and-a-half flight away.

The results were also published Saturday in the New England Journal of Medicine.

WebMD News from HealthDay

Sources

SOURCES: Aruna Pradhan, M.D., MPH, preventive medicine doctor, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston; Jean-Claude Tardif, M.D., director, research,  Montreal Heart Institute; Donald Lloyd-Jones, M.D., ScM, chair, preventive medicine, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago; Nov. 16, 2019,New England Journal of Medicine, Nov. 16, 2019, presentation, American Heart Association annual meeting, Philadelphia

Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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Pagination

WebMD Health

Cheap, Older Gout Drug, Colchicine, Could Be a Lifesaver After Heart Attack

SUNDAY, Nov. 17, 2019 — A cheap drug that’s been around for centuries as a gout treatment might also shield heart attack survivors from future heart crises, new trial results show.

The drug, colchicine, is derived from a plant called the autumn crocus, researchers explained Saturday at the annual meeting of the American Heart Association, in Philadelphia.

In the new trial, colchicine reduced by as much as 34% a heart attack survivor’s combined risk of either dying from heart disease or having cardiac arrest, a heart attack, a stroke or angioplasty.

Experts described the study as a “landmark” effort.

“These results provide confirmation that inflammation management reduces cardiovascular risk, and it was an example of a successful repurposing of a broadly available and relatively safe generic drug for a new application,” said Dr. Aruna Pradhan, a preventive medicine doctor at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

Colchicine currently is used to treat gout and pericarditis (inflammation of the heart’s lining), two conditions caused by inflammation, said lead researcher Dr. Jean-Claude Tardif, director of research at the Montreal Heart Institute.

“You just give a few tablets of colchicine and the pain, the warmth, the redness, all the inflammatory signs go away,” Tardif said.

Tardif and his colleagues reasoned that colchicine might be able to reduce the risk of future heart problems by lowering inflammation in heart attack patients.

The trial involved more than 4,700 heart patients, with about half given daily low-dose colchicine taken by mouth and the rest provided a placebo. Nearly all patients also received the drug regimen normally prescribed to heart attack survivors — aspirin, blood thinners, statins and/or beta blockers.

Three years later, results showed that people on colchicine fared significantly better than those taking a placebo.

Besides the 34% reduction in all adverse heart events, the trial also found that patients taking colchichine had a 74% reduction in stroke risk, and a 50% reduction in their likelihood of being rushed to hospital for angioplasty/stenting after suffering chest pain.

The drug also appears to be safe. The most concerning side effect appears to be an increased risk of pneumonia, which affected about 1% of colchicine patients. Pradhan said pneumonia risk might be affected by the drug’s effect on inflammation.

Tardif said his research team is proceeding with a second trial focusing on heart risk among patients with type 2 diabetes.

Based on these findings, heart doctors will be thinking long and hard about adding colchicine to the drug cocktail prescribed to heart attack patients, said Dr. Donald Lloyd-Jones, chair of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

“When you have a safe drug that is easily available, it’s going to be hard to hold this back,” Lloyd-Jones said.

The trial was funded by the provincial government of Quebec and received no drug company funding. However, colchicine’s new promise already appears to be affecting its sticker price, even though it’s a generic drug, Lloyd-Jones added.

He said that he recently saw a patient with gout on Thursday who complained that his colchicine prescription costs had unexpectedly skyrocketed.

“He told me that just in the last month, his colchicine out-of-pocket costs went from $ 50 to $ 270 a month in Chicago,” Lloyd-Jones said. “I really wonder whether there’s some gaming going on here, and I do not want to see that.”

Tardif expressed shock, given colchicine’s low cost in Canada.

“There’s something wrong with a system where 90 minutes away you get a drug for 50 times less what others are paying,” Tardif said, referring to what his patients pay in Montreal, an hour-and-a-half flight away.

The results were also published Saturday in the New England Journal of Medicine.

More information

The Mayo Clinic has more about colchicine.

© 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: November 2019

Drugs.com – Daily MedNews

AHA News: Quitting Smoking Could Lead to Major Changes in Gut Bacteria

FRIDAY, Nov. 15, 2019 (American Heart Association News) — Quitting smoking leads to major changes in intestinal bacteria, according to new research. But just what the changes mean will need further investigation.

The small pilot study, to be presented Monday during the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions in Philadelphia, comes in the wake of past research showing a link between bacteria in the gut and cardiovascular health. That past work has shown smoking is associated with a decrease in diversity in the types of beneficial bacteria living in the gut.

For the new study, researchers looked at 26 people who were trying to quit smoking and analyzed their stool samples at the start of the study and again two weeks and 12 weeks later.

“We concluded that smoking cessation changes the gut microbiota, and I think that’s a significant piece of science,” said the study’s lead author, Dr. Marcus Sublette.

“It’s already been established that smoking changes the gut microbiome. What we’re adding here is that smoking cessation itself will continue to change the gut microbiome. Then the question of course is, ‘Is this good? Or is it bad?’ We don’t know yet.”

The study showed improvements in bacterial diversity were associated with reductions in heart rate, systolic blood pressure and C-reactive protein levels, which rise in response to inflammation. It also showed an increase in hemoglobin, the red blood cells that carry oxygen.

“All of those changes are indirect markers of potentially better health,” said Sublette, a cardiology fellow at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. “It adds greater fuel to the hypothesis that the gut microbiome is really doing something for cardiovascular disease.”

Sublette said researchers also found that people who quit smoking had decreases in some bacteria called firmicutes and increases in others called bacteroides that past studies have shown could be measures for lower risk for diabetes and obesity.

“It’s hard to know exactly yet what that ratio means, because we are very early on in the study of the gut microbiome and cardiovascular disease. But it adds to the overall picture and helps us start to understand this,” he said.

The study was limited by its small patient size and its relatively narrow focus, Sublette said.”We are not digging down to the exact species of bacteria. Rather, we’re looking at larger proportions or ratios of large groups of bacteria.”

Sublette said he plans to do future research in which mice are fed living bacteria from humans.

“If we give the microbiota of both an ongoing smoker and a successful quitter to a sterile mouse, how does that change their atherosclerotic disease progression?”

Dr. Stanley Hazen, director of the Center for Microbiome & Human Health at the Cleveland Clinic, said the study results “hint at the need to take a global view of one’s metabolism, including the gut microbial community within.”

Hazen, who was not involved in the research, said “a change in our environmental exposure impacts the host in many different ways, including shifts in the gut microbial community. What changes occur as a result of smoking cessation is an interesting question that remains to be determined.”

© 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: November 2019

Drugs.com – Daily MedNews

Common Muscle Relaxant Could Pose Mental Dangers for Seniors

SATURDAY, Nov. 9, 2019 — A commonly prescribed muscle relaxant known as baclofen can leave older kidney patients so disoriented that they land in the hospital, a new study warns.

“It can present with acute stroke-like symptoms, even though it’s not a stroke,” said senior researcher Dr. Amit Garg, a professor of nephrology at Western University in Ontario, Canada. “It can present with dementia-like symptoms.”

About 1 in 25 people with low kidney function prescribed high doses of baclofen wound up being admitted to a hospital for severe confusion, according to a study of nearly 16,000 older Canadians with chronic kidney disease.

By comparison, only one in 500 kidney patients not prescribed baclofen wound up hospitalized for confusion.

“There was a pretty marked difference in risk,” Garg said, noting that these findings “highlight a potential risk associated with these drugs that hasn’t been fully appreciated.”

Other seniors might also face this risk, since kidney function often declines as people grow older, he added.

Baclofen is typically prescribed to people suffering muscle spasms, Garg said. Doctors hand out more than 8 million prescriptions of baclofen every year. It’s sold under a number of different brand names, including Lioresal, Gablofen and Kemstro.

The drug leaves the body when the kidneys filter it out of a person’s blood, Garg explained.

“If someone’s kidney function isn’t working very well, that means the drug is accumulating in the system,” he said.

Garg and other doctors had started noticing that kidney patients on baclofen sometimes became disoriented and dazed.

For example, nephrologist Dr. Holly Koncicki remembers some dialysis patients showing up with noticeably clouded mental capacity.

“Of those I can remember, they often presented with confusion or being very sleepy and lethargic,” said Koncicki, of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, in New York City.

In the Canadian study, Garg and his colleagues combed the medical literature and found 30 prior case reports linking baclofen to hitches in brain function, so they decided to more closely study this potential problem.

The researchers pulled health data on nearly 16,000 older Ontario residents with chronic kidney disease who had been prescribed baclofen between 2007 and 2018.

The investigators compared those patients’ hospitalizations for mental conditions against those from a group of almost 300,000 kidney patients who’d not been prescribed the drug.

Patients were at greatest risk of hospitalization for confusion if their kidney function was very impaired — 30% or less — and they had been prescribed a high dose of baclofen, more than 20 milligrams (mg) per day.

But even patients with kidney function as high as 60% had an increased risk of confusion when prescribed high doses of baclofen, the findings showed. About 1 in 5 older adults live with kidney function of less than 60%.

Kidney patients prescribed baclofen at 20 mg/day or higher had nearly 20 times the relative risk of being hospitalized for an altered mental state, compared with patients not taking the drug, the researchers found.

Doses lower than 20 mg/day were associated with a nearly sixfold increase in kidney patients’ risk of hospitalization.

The results were published online Nov. 9 in the Journal of the American Medical Association, to coincide with a planned presentation at the American Society of Nephrology annual meeting, in Washington, D.C.

Koncicki, who was not involved with the study, said, “In our older patients with impaired kidney function, there should be cautious use of this medication.”

Garg added that the effect might be even more widespread than what was found in the study, which only considered people so severely affected that they landed in the hospital.

He said he’s concerned that many more people “might have more subtle changes in their thinking who we aren’t even picking up in this study.”

People already taking baclofen should keep taking the drug but ask their doctor about these possible mental side effects, Koncicki and Garg said.

Patients “should feel empowered to ask questions about the risks and benefits of medications,” Koncicki said, “and side effects to watch out for so they can make an informed decision about whether a medication is right for them.”

Dr. Teresa Murray Amato, director of geriatric emergency medicine at Northwell Health in New Hyde Park, N.Y., agreed.

“All patients should speak to their doctors regarding side effects of all medications,” Murray Amato said. “For patients over 65, make sure you understand your kidney function and ask about potential renal dosing on all medications. If you are on baclofen now, make sure you contact your health care provider so that you can have an expedited conversation.”

“Please seek emergency care if you or your family member is showing any signs of altered [mental activity] and you suspect medications may be involved,” Murray Amato said.

Regulatory agencies also might consider strengthening the drug warning for baclofen to include this potential effect, Garg said.

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about baclofen.

© 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: November 2019

Drugs.com – Daily MedNews

HIV Could Speed Menopause Onset

By Robert Preidt
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 6, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Women with HIV experience menopause years sooner than other women — about three years earlier, on average, a new study finds.

Treatment advances are keeping people with the virus alive longer, and those who adhere to therapy are expected to live into their mid-70s or longer. That means they’ll face aging issues that affect sexual and reproductive health, including menopause, the study authors noted.

“Health care practitioners should be aware of the increased risk for premature and early menopause in their female patients living with HIV in order to provide appropriate counseling and management,” said Dr. Stephanie Faubion, medical director of the North American Menopause Society.

Early menopause carries an increased risk for adverse long-term health consequences associated with early estrogen deprivation, she explained in a society news release.

The average age of menopause in the United States and Canada is between 50 and 52 years.

This study of more than 200 Canadian women found that women with HIV are more likely to have menopause at an average age of 48 years, three years younger than women in the general population.

Women with HIV also had higher rates of early (between ages 40 and 45) and premature (before age 40) menopause.

Lower education levels and hepatitis C infections also influenced the risk of early menopause, the researchers said. Other possible factors included marital status and region of birth.

Menopause is associated with changes in mood and sexual function, reduced quality of life, and increased risk of diseases such as heart disease and osteoporosis. That’s why a raised risk of early menopause should be taken into account by doctors caring for women with HIV, the researchers said.

For the study, the investigators analyzed results of the Canadian HIV Women’s Sexual and Reproductive Health Cohort Study, focusing on 229 postmenopausal women. The study was led by Dr. Nisha Andany, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Toronto. The findings were published online Nov. 4 in Menopause.

Previous studies have found that women with HIV are at an increased risk of early and premature menopause. But the researchers believe this is the first study to determine the average age of menopause for HIV patients, and the prevalence of early menopause and premature menopause.

WebMD News from HealthDay

Sources

SOURCE: North American Menopause Society, news release, Nov. 6, 2019

Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

‘); } else { // If we match both our test Topic Ids and Buisness Ref we want to place the ad in the middle of page 1 if($ .inArray(window.s_topic, moveAdTopicIds) > -1 && $ .inArray(window.s_business_reference, moveAdBuisRef) > -1){ // The logic below reads count all nodes in page 1. Exclude the footer,ol,ul and table elements. Use the varible // moveAdAfter to know which node to place the Ad container after. window.placeAd = function(pn) { var nodeTags = [‘p’, ‘h3′,’aside’, ‘ul’], nodes, target; nodes = $ (‘.article-page:nth-child(‘ + pn + ‘)’).find(nodeTags.join()).not(‘p:empty’).not(‘footer *’).not(‘ol *, ul *, table *’); //target = nodes.eq(Math.floor(nodes.length / 2)); target = nodes.eq(moveAdAfter); $ (”).insertAfter(target); } // Currently passing in 1 to move the Ad in to page 1 window.placeAd(1); } else { // This is the default location on the bottom of page 1 $ (‘.article-page:nth-child(1)’).append(”); } } })(); $ (function(){ // Create a new conatiner where we will make our lazy load Ad call if the reach the footer section of the article $ (‘.main-container-3’).prepend(”); });
WebMD Health

Staying Slim After Weight-Loss Surgery Could Cut Cancer Risk in Half

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 6, 2019 — The drastic weight loss that occurs with successful bariatric surgery could have an extra benefit — it may slash your risk of cancer.

People with severe obesity who dropped more than 20% of their total body weight following surgery wound up cutting their risk of cancer by more than half, compared with those who didn’t lose as much weight after the procedure, a new study reports.

“Those who lost more weight had a significantly reduced risk of cancer,” said lead researcher Dr. Angela Stroud, an assistant professor with the Oregon Health & Science University School of Medicine’s division of bariatric surgery.

Previous studies have linked obesity to cancer, so these researchers set out to see exactly how much weight loss might protect a person.

Stroud and her colleagues turned to a long-term study of bariatric surgery, gathering data on more than 2,100 people treated at 10 medical centers across the United States. The type of surgery could either be gastric bypass or gastric banding.

People who underwent the surgery and didn’t lose weight had an overall higher risk of cancer during seven years of follow-up. Those whose body mass index (BMI) dropped under 30, the threshold for obesity, had a 40% reduced risk of cancer compared with those who remained obese.

Further, researchers found that the more weight a person lost, the less likely they were to develop cancer.

About 6.2% of those who lost less than 20% of their body weight received a cancer diagnosis within seven years of their surgery, compared with 3.6% of patients who lost 20% or more, researchers reported.

Those who lost between 20% and 35% of their total weight following bariatric surgery had a 56% reduction in their overall cancer risk, compared with those who lost less than 20% of their initial weight.

The results indicate that people who want to lower their cancer risk should opt for gastric bypass surgery, since the average person who underwent gastric banding did not lose anywhere near as much weight, Stroud said.

This also shows that obese people who are worried about cancer likely need weight-loss surgery to reduce their risk, said Dr. Eric DeMaria, president of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery. Diet and exercise likely can’t lead to the sort of dramatic weight loss that’s required.

“Here we have a study that says you’ve got to be more aggressive with the weight loss to really see the impact, and that really puts it in the terrain of bariatric surgery,” said DeMaria, chief of general and bariatric surgery at the East Carolina University Brody School of Medicine in Greenville, N.C. He wasn’t involved with the study.

Breast cancer was the most common among the patients, followed by thyroid, melanoma, colon, kidney, uterine and lung.

Dramatic weight loss might be reducing cancer risk by lowering rates of type 2 diabetes, Stroud said.

“There’s definitely an association between type 2 diabetes and cancer, so if we’re making diabetes better that might be one of the bigger players in all of this,” she said.

People who lose more weight also might be benefitting from much lower levels of inflammation, as well as healthier gut bacteria, Stroud said.

But researchers also found that metabolic changes directly linked to weight and appetite were associated with lower cancer risk.

For example, for each 20% reduction in leptin — a hormone that decreases hunger — there was a 20% reduction in cancer, researchers said.

Decreases in diabetes-related fasting glucose and insulin also were associated with reduced cancer risk, as were increases in ghrelin, the “hunger hormone.”

Studies like this shine a light on an underappreciated risk associated with obesity, compared with the risk of heart disease or diabetes, DeMaria said.

The link between obesity and cancer “is not widely appreciated among the public, I think,” DeMaria said. “People don’t intuitively say you’re at high risk for cancer if you’re obese. They don’t think that way. It’s not as known. “

The new study was presented Tuesday at the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery’s annual meeting, in Las Vegas. Data and conclusions presented at meetings are usually considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about obesity and cancer.

© 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: November 2019

Drugs.com – Daily MedNews

Media Reports on Celeb Suicides Could Trigger Copycats

FRIDAY, Nov. 1, 2019 — How the media reports on celebrity suicides may increase the risk for copycats, a new study suggests.

But following guidelines on the reporting of these suicides can reduce the risk of others following suit, researchers added.

“Suicide needs to be reported on as a public health issue every single time, rather than a story focused on the celebrity’s death and the method of that death,” said researcher Arielle Sheftall, from the Center for Suicide Prevention and Research at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

For the study, she and her team used 14 variables from recommendations by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention on how to report on suicide, which include not sensationalizing the death and framing the report as a public health issue. The researchers looked at how the guidelines were used after the suicides of designer Kate Spade and chef Anthony Bourdain.

After reviewing newspaper articles from across the United States, they found that some media didn’t adhere to several of the suicide reporting guidelines.

On average, only seven of the 14 guidelines were followed and only two were followed by all the newspapers.

The two guidelines that were followed stress that suicide isn’t caused by a single factor and that suicide isn’t a growing epidemic.

Guidelines that weren’t followed by any of the papers included stressing that suicide is preventable and good treatment can reduce the risk of suicide.

It’s important to understand that many people are reading the story, including those at risk for suicide, Sheftall noted.

“People who may be struggling with suicidal thoughts could be exposed to these articles, and that is why it is so crucial to follow all of the suicide reporting guidelines. We are not pointing fingers at journalists or their newsrooms, but encouraging them to become aware of the guidelines and understanding their nuances,” she said in a hospital news release.

The report was published online Nov. 1 in the journal JAMA Network Open.

More information

For more on recommendations for reporting on suicide, see the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

For more on suicide prevention, head to the Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

© 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: November 2019

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Could More Coffee Bring a Healthier Microbiome?

By Elizabeth Heubeck        
       HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Oct. 28, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Debating whether or not you should have that second cup of coffee?

New research that links caffeine consumption to a healthy gut microbiome — the trillions of microorganisms that live in your digestive tract and affect your overall health– may prompt you to pour generously.

In recent years, numerous studies have demonstrated associations between coffee consumption and lowered health risks of all sorts — from type 2 diabetes to certain cancers to Parkinson’s disease.

Simultaneously, accumulating evidence suggests that the makeup of your gut microbiome can affect your health, either by promoting or reducing the risk of diseases.

Connecting the dots between these two health premises, a new study found the microbiomes of regular coffee drinkers were considerably healthier than those who consumed little to no coffee.

“We still need to learn more about how the bacteria and the host [our bodies] interact to impact our health,” said lead study author Dr. Li Jiao, an associate professor of medicine-gastroenterology at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.

But her advice for now? “If you love coffee, enjoy it. Follow your gut.”

The new findings were to be presented Monday at the American College of Gastroenterology annual meeting, in San Antonio, Texas.

In the study, scientists for the first time ever took gut microbiome samples directly from various parts of the colon during colonoscopies. (Other studies have examined just stool samples).

Overall, the 34 participants who drank two or more cups of coffee daily throughout the previous year exhibited better gut microbiome profiles than those who consumed less or no coffee, Jiao’s team reported.

Heavy coffee drinkers’ bacterial species were more abundant and more evenly distributed throughout the large intestine, richer in anti-inflammatory properties, and considerably less likely to include Erysipelatoclostridium, a type of bacteria linked to metabolic abnormalities and obesity.

Jiao said it remains uncertain why coffee exerts such a positive influence on the gut microbiome. But she suggested that caffeine or other nutrients in coffee may impact the metabolism of bacteria and, in turn, how the bacterial metabolites — the end products of that metabolism — affect your body.

Continued

While scientists may not completely understand the mechanisms behind coffee’s impact on the microbiome, they are becoming increasingly convinced of the importance of gut contents to overall health.

“The gut microbiome seems to be the missing link between diet and the incidence of chronic diseases,” said Dr. Hana Kahleova, director of Clinical Research at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. She was not involved with the study.

For instance, explained Kahleova, individuals who eat a typical Western diet high in fat and processed foods tend to house in their gut more endotoxins, toxic components of “bad” bacteria associated with obesity, insulin resistance and cardiovascular disease. Conversely, she suggested that coffee’s polyphenols and other antioxidants, compounds naturally found in plant foods, are likely what’s providing a healthier microbiome.

But you don’t have to rely on coffee for your gut to absorb these health benefits. “All plants in their natural state are rich in fiber, polyphenols and antioxidants that help us fight cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease,” Kahleova said.

That’s good news for people who don’t drink coffee, and don’t plan to start. Benefits notwithstanding, coffee isn’t for everyone. It can aggravate a sensitive stomach, worsen insomnia or pose a danger to individuals with certain heart conditions.

But for the countless number of people who love coffee and can’t imagine cutting it out of their diet, this study may come as a relief. It turns out that drinking one or two cups of coffee a day probably won’t induce any harm, and may even provide some protective health benefits.

Because this research was presented at a medical meeting, it should be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

WebMD News from HealthDay

Sources

SOURCES: Li Jiao, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor, medicine-gastroenterology, Baylor College of Medicine, and researcher, Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center, Houston; Hana Kahleova, M.D., Ph.D., director, clinical research, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine; Oct. 28, 2019, presentation, American College of Gastroenterology annual meeting, San Antonio, Texas

Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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Could AI Beat Radiologists at Spotting Bleeds in the Brain?

THURSDAY, Oct. 24, 2019 — Computer-driven artificial intelligence (AI) can help protect human brains from the damage wrought by stroke, a new report suggests.

A computer program trained to look for bleeding in the brain outperformed two of four certified radiologists, finding abnormalities in brain scans quickly and efficiently, the researchers reported.

“This AI can evaluate the whole head in one second,” said senior researcher Dr. Esther Yuh, an associate professor of radiology at the University of California, San Francisco. “We trained it to be very, very good at looking for the kind of tiny abnormalities that radiologists look for.”

Stroke doctors often say that “time is brain,” meaning that every second’s delay in treating a stroke results in more brain cells dying and the patient becoming further incapacitated.

Yuh and her colleagues hope that AI programmed to find trouble spots in a brain will be able to significantly cut down treatment time for stroke patients.

“Instead of having a delay of 20 to 30 minutes for a radiologist to turn around a CT scan for interpretation, the computer can read it in a second,” Yuh said.

Stroke is the fifth-leading cause of death in the United States, and is a leading cause of disability, according to the American Stroke Association.

There are two types of strokes: ones caused by burst blood vessels in the brain (hemorrhagic), and others that occur when a blood vessel becomes blocked (ischemic).

Yuh’s AI still needs to be tested in clinical trials and approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, but other programs are already helping doctors speed up stroke treatment, said Dr. Christopher Kellner. He is director of the Intracerebral Hemorrhage Program at Mount Sinai, in New York City.

“We are already using AI-driven software to automatically inform us when certain CAT scan findings occur,” he said. “It’s already become, in just the last year, an essential part of our stroke work-up.”

An AI created by a company called Viz.ai is being used at Mount Sinai to detect blood clots that have caused a stroke by blocking the flow of blood to the brain, Kellner said.

Yuh and her team used a library of nearly 4,440 CT scans to train their AI to look for brain bleeding.

These scans are not easy to read, she said. They are low-contrast black-and-white images full of visual “noise.”

“It takes a lot of training to be able to read these — doctors train for years to be able to read these correctly,” Yuh said.

Her team trained its algorithm to the point that it could trace detailed outlines of abnormalities it found, demonstrating their location in a 3-D model of the brain being scanned.

They then tested the algorithm against four board-certified radiologists, using a series of 200 randomly selected head CT scans.

The AI slightly outperformed two radiologists, and slightly underperformed against the other two, Yuh said.

The AI found some small abnormalities that the experts missed. It also provided detailed information that doctors would need to determine the best treatment.

The computer program also provided this information with an acceptable level of false positives, Yuh said. That would minimize how much time doctors would need to spend reviewing its results.

Yuh suspects radiologists always will be needed to double-check the AI, but Kellner isn’t so sure.

“There will definitely be a point where there’s no human involved in the evaluation of the scans, and I think that’s not too far off, honestly,” he said. “I think, ultimately, a computer will be able to scan that faster and send out an alert faster than a human can.”

The new study was published Oct. 21 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

More information

The American Stroke Association has more about stroke.

© 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: October 2019

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By Mid-Century, Heat Waves Could Cover Far Bigger Areas

By Robert Preidt
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Oct. 10, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Climate change could trigger much bigger heat waves by mid-century, U.S. researchers report.

Previous research has predicted that the number and intensity of heat waves will increase, but this study is the first to examine changes in their potential physical size.

“As the physical size of these affected regions increases, more people will be exposed to heat stress,” said lead author Brad Lyon, an associate research professor at the University of Maine in Orono.

“Larger heat waves would also increase electrical loads and peak energy demand on the grid as more people and businesses turn on air conditioning in response,” he added.

The statistics are alarming.

With medium greenhouse gas emission levels, the average size of heat waves could grow 50% by mid-century, according to the study. With high emission levels, their average size could increase 80%, and more extreme heat waves could more than double in size, it predicted.

The study, published Oct. 7 in the journal Environmental Research Letters, was partly funded by the Climate Observations and Monitoring Program of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Climate Program Office.

Predictions about the growing size of heat waves could help utilities plan for the future, according to the researchers.

“Heat wave size is another dimension of extreme heat that people don’t necessarily think of,” Lyon said in a NOAA news release. “It’s a different vantage point from which to view them and assess their impacts.”

The study also found that the length and severity of heat waves could increase substantially, which came as no surprise to the researchers.

“An increase in attributes like magnitude and duration is consistent with expectations of a warming climate,” Lyon said. “What is new in our study is the way we calculated them, which allowed us to consider size as a new heat wave dimension.”

WebMD News from HealthDay

Sources

SOURCE: U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, news release, Oct. 7, 2019

Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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Sticking to One Sport Could Up Injuries Among Teen Athletes

SUNDAY, Sept. 29, 2019 — Here’s a good reason to encourage your teenager to play more than one sport: New research finds kids who concentrate on only one sport may be at risk for stress fractures, tendinitis and knee injuries.

“It’s wonderful for a child to love a sport and to want to engage in it, but we must keep in mind the number of hours spent playing,” said study author Alison Field, a professor of epidemiology and pediatrics at Brown University. “They add up pretty quickly.”

The findings are a result of following more than 10,000 older children throughout the United States. The bottom line is that kids who do the most hours of intense activity per week, and that happens to be those focusing on a single sport, are the most likely to be injured.

Field hopes that coaches, parents and doctors urge children to engage in less intense, less specialized training.

The best advice is that kids should spend only a moderate amount of time in vigorous physical activity. If they have to specialize, they should replace some training with different types of exercise, such as yoga and conditioning, she suggested.

The risk for injury differed for girls and boys. For girls, no sport stood out as being extra risky. Specializing, however, increased girls’ risk of injury by about 30%.

Specialization did not significantly increase boys’ risk of injury, but baseball, gymnastics or cheerleading did increase the risk, the findings showed.

“There’s been a lot of concern about females having a higher risk of certain injuries,” Field said in a university news release. “The question is: Is that risk highest just as they’re going through their pubertal growth spurt, and then does it come back down a bit? And then we need to talk to coaches and trainers and say, ‘What can we do to mitigate that risk?'”

The report was published online recently in the Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine.

More information

For more on children and sports, visit Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

© 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: September 2019

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Later Bedtimes Could Mean Wider Waistlines for Teen Girls

MONDAY, Sept. 16, 2019 — Teenaged girls who stay up late every night could pay a price in added pounds, new research shows.

There could even be greater ramifications for girls’ health, with risks for “cardiometabolic” issues — such as heart disease and diabetes — rising with later bedtimes, the researchers said.

A similar trend was not shown for boys, although the research team stressed that that might be because the number of boys in the study was too low.

However, for teen girls at least, the researchers “found that ‘night owls,’ teenagers who prefer to go to bed late but have to get up early for school, had higher waist circumference and greater abdominal fat deposition (adiposity) than the ‘morning larks,’ those who prefer to go to bed early and get up early to begin their day,” said study senior investigator Dr. Elsie Taveras. She directs general academic pediatrics at the Massachusetts General Hospital for Children, in Boston.

Prior studies have linked insufficient sleep in teens with obesity and poor cardiometabolic health, the study authors noted. However, less attention has been paid to the impact of when kids get their shut-eye.

The new research included data on more than 800 kids, aged 12 to 17, who were enrolled in a study that for 20 years has tracked the health of growing children.

Taveras’ group looked specifically at data on whether teens were “early birds” or “night owls,” and on something called “social jet lag” — differences in when teens went to sleep on school nights versus non-school nights.

Teen girls who tended to go to sleep later had an average waistline measurement that was about a quarter-inch higher than that of “early birds,” the findings showed. They also had a slightly higher amount of body fat, on average, according to the report published online Sept. 16 in JAMA Pediatrics.

The study couldn’t prove that bedtimes helped cause added weight gain, but one sleep specialist wasn’t surprised by the findings.

“We have known for some time that when humans are sleep-deprived, they tend to gain weight; this is likely an effect of sleep deprivation on two hormones that regulate appetite,” said Dr. Steven Feinsilver. He directs the Center for Sleep Medicine at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

And as Taveras noted in a university news release, “beyond [sleep] quantity and quality, timing is a vital component of sleep because it determines if an individual’s circadian clock — the internal sleep/wake schedule — is synchronized with the rhythms of their daily activities.”

She pointed out that “this is particularly important to adolescents whose evening preferences and academic demands often result in irregular sleep schedules that may cause circadian misalignment.”

The study authors stressed that maintaining a consistent bedtime seven days a week is crucial. Doing so can cut social jet lag, and perhaps also minimize risks for obesity and poor cardiometabolic health.

Dr. Michael Grosso, chief of pediatrics at Northwell Health’s Huntington Hospital, in Huntington, N.Y., agreed.

The study findings “make sense,” he said, “and may form the basis for good medical advice. The take-away: get enough sleep, and keep bedtimes regular.”

For her part, study lead author Elizabeth Cespedes Feliciano advised parents to “encourage consistency in their children’s sleep schedules and their bed and wake times, as well as improvements in their sleep hygiene by limiting electronic media and caffeine use in the evening.” Feliciano is a research scientist in the Kaiser Permanente Northern California Division of Research.

Taveras said that schools can also help by having later morning start times. Schools can also make it easier for students to have time during the day to complete academic activities that might otherwise be done very late at night.

More information

The National Sleep Foundation has more on teens and sleep.

© 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: September 2019

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HRT Could Benefit Younger Women After Hysterectomy

By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Sept. 9, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Estrogen therapy may help younger women live longer after having their uterus and ovaries surgically removed, new research reports.

The study found that when women under 60 received hormone replacement therapy (HRT) after surgery, their risk of dying during the 18-year follow-up period decreased by almost one-third compared to women taking a placebo.

“In a young woman, it’s generally better to conserve the ovaries, because early removal of the ovaries induces early surgical menopause and increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, fractures and osteoporosis. But if the ovaries are removed, and a woman is under 60, estrogen therapy gives them a more favorable risk profile,” said study lead author Dr. JoAnn Manson. She’s chief of the division of preventive medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

About 425,000 women have a hysterectomy (uterus removal) every year in the United States. Between a third and a half also have their ovaries removed. This is done to reduce their risk of ovarian cancer, according to the researchers.

Removing the ovaries is also known to reduce breast cancer risk. But when they are removed in younger women (around 45 to 50), the procedure is linked to a higher risk of heart disease and death from any cause, the researchers noted.

“Women who have had their ovaries removed have an abrupt decline in their estrogen levels, more so than women with intact ovaries,” Manson explained.

Researchers had a hunch that replacing that lost estrogen might reduce the risk of heart disease and early death.

To see if that was the case, they recruited about 10,000 women who had a hysterectomy. They were between 50 and 79 years old. Just over 4,000 also had both ovaries removed.

The women were randomly assigned to receive either estrogen or a placebo for about seven years. Their health was followed for 18 years.

Women in their 50s who had their ovaries removed had a 32% lower risk of dying during the study if they took estrogen, the findings showed. Older women who had their ovaries removed and took estrogen didn’t have that same benefit.

Continued

Women who still had their ovaries didn’t seem to have any benefits or harms related to taking estrogen, the study found.

Dr. Meera Garcia, division chief of obstetrics and gynecology at New York-Presbyterian Hudson Valley Hospital in Cortlandt Manor, N.Y., reviewed the study and welcomed the findings. “This study provides a great support and evidence to what’s going on in clinical practice,” she said.

“Everything has benefits and side effects, and with hormones, we’re coming more to the middle now,” Garcia added. “There’s a right time and a right place for medication, and when we’re continuing what the body has been doing [by replacing estrogen in younger women] — it seems to provide benefits.”

Both Manson and Garcia said there’s no absolute cut-off age for hormone therapy.

“The duration of estrogen therapy is an individual decision. Is a woman continuing to have hot flashes? What is her risk for breast cancer? What about cardiovascular disease risk? Or a risk of osteoporosis? All of these factors come into play when making the decision,” Manson explained.

Garcia said when women decide it’s time to come off of hormone therapy, it’s helpful to slowly lower the dosage over time.

The findings were published Sept. 9 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

WebMD News from HealthDay

Sources

SOURCES: JoAnn Manson, M.D., chief, division of preventive medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and professor of medicine, Harvard Medical School, Boston; Meera Garcia, M.D., division chief, obstetrics and gynecology, New York-Presbyterian Hudson Valley Hospital, Cortlandt Manor, N.Y.;Annals of Internal Medicine, Sept. 9, 2019

Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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