Some May Be Vulnerable to Severe Skin Reaction While Using Gout Drug

TUESDAY, Oct. 1, 2019 — Some gout patients with heart or kidney disease might be more susceptible to severe skin reactions while taking the gout medication allopurinol, researchers report.

“Our findings suggest that heart disease, like chronic kidney disease, is a risk factor for allopurinol-associated severe cutaneous adverse reactions that warrants adoption of precautionary measures against these reactions,” said researcher Dr. Hyon Choi, from the Department of Rheumatology, Allergy and Immunology at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

Gout is form of inflammatory arthritis that develops in people who have high levels of uric acid in their blood. The acid can form needle-like crystals in joints and cause sudden, severe episodes of pain, tenderness, redness, warmth and swelling.

An earlier study found a link between heart disease and an increased risk of hospitalization for people who had a severe skin reaction to allopurinol.

For the latest study, Canadian and U.S. researchers used data from nearly 5 million people in British Columbia. More than 130,000 of these people were on allopurinol. Of these patients, those with heart disease and chronic kidney disease had a higher risk of severe skin reactions than those without such conditions.

People with the genetic marker HLA-B*5801, which is more common in Asian and black people, have a significantly higher risk of this adverse reaction than people without the mutation.

The report was published Sept. 30 in the CMAJ.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently warned patients about the risk of cardiovascular events from the gout medication febuxostat, so the number of prescriptions for allopurinol will probably increase, the researchers noted.

But severe skin reactions are rare, and allopurinol plays an important role in managing gout, they added.

“Physicians who prescribe allopurinol should look for these risk factors so that they may consider initiating lower-dosage allopurinol and other precautions, which may prevent this rare but serious adverse reaction,” Choi and his co-authors concluded in a journal news release.

More information

For more on gout, see the Arthritis Foundation.

© 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: October 2019

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Vulnerable Preemie Babies Often Behind On Vaccines

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 7, 2019 — Preemies often lag behind full-term babies in getting routine vaccinations — and the difference remains at age 3, a new study finds.

Misguided parental “hesitancy” over the safety of vaccines for preemies might be to blame, researchers said.

The study found that preterm babies were less likely to be up-to-date on seven recommended vaccines by 19 months of age. More than half were “under-vaccinated,” and by age 3, one-third still were.

Experts said the findings are concerning because preemies are more likely to become seriously ill if they contract the infections that vaccines prevent.

The reasons for the results are not clear — but parents’ wariness could be a factor.

“Parents of preemies sometimes feel that they are dealing with a fragile child,” said Dr. Rahul Gupta, chief medical and health officer for the March of Dimes. “Even if they’re not vaccine-hesitant as a philosophy, they may worry about the safety of vaccination for their child.”

Plus, Gupta said, there is a lot going on in those first days to weeks of life in the neonatal intensive care unit — with doctors, nurses and parents focused on various medical needs. Conversations about vaccinations may fall by the wayside.

But, Gupta stressed, it’s vital for preterm infants to get timely immunizations, since their risk of complications from infections is higher than average.

“All of the available vaccines are safe and effective for preterm and low birth weight babies,” he said.

In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics and other groups say preemies should follow the standard vaccine schedule recommended for full-term babies. Only a couple exceptions are made: The first dose of the hepatitis B vaccine, typically given in the first day of life, may be delayed; and the vaccine against rotavirus, which causes severe diarrhea, is delayed until preemies have left the hospital.

The new findings, published Aug. 7 in the journal Pediatrics, are based on more than 10,000 babies born in Washington state between 2008 and 2013. Just over 19% were preterm (born before the 37th week of pregnancy).

Researchers looked at whether the babies were up-to-date on the standard series of seven vaccines. It includes shots against polio, measles-mumps-rubella, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis (whooping cough), chickenpox and hepatitis B. It also includes the “Hib” and pneumococcal vaccines, which can prevent serious bacterial infections of the lungs, blood and brain.

Overall, many babies weren’t caught up on all vaccinations by the age of 19 months — including 48% of full-term babies. But that rate was even higher among preemies, at 54%.

And by age 3, the gap still hadn’t closed: Fewer than 64% of preterm toddlers were up to date, compared to 71% of their full-term peers.

The generally low rates of timely vaccination are “worrisome,” said lead researcher Dr. Annika Hofstetter, of Seattle Children’s Hospital and the University of Washington. But, she added, the low numbers among preemies are especially so.

The “next big question” is to figure out what’s going on, she said.

Future studies, according to Hofstetter, could survey parents and health care providers to gauge their awareness of vaccination recommendations and the evidence on vaccine safety for preemies.

But much is already known.

“We know these vaccines are very safe and effective,” Hofstetter said. “We know preterm babies are at higher risk of complications from these infections. And now we know that they’re at risk of under-vaccination.”

The bottom line, she said, is that “we need to do a better job of getting them vaccinated in a timely manner.”

It’s understandable, Gupta said, that parents of tiny or sick newborns might be “cautious” about vaccinations. So it’s important for health care providers to address that, and for parents to ask questions, he said.

Hofstetter agreed. “If parents have any concerns, they should definitely talk to their health care provider,” she said.

More information

The American Academy of Pediatrics has more on vaccinations for preemies.

© 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: August 2019

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Poor Seniors May Be More Vulnerable to Dementia

By Steven Reinberg

HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, May 16, 2018 (HealthDay News) — Being poor later in life may boost the risk of dementia by 50 percent, new research suggests.

“Our study confirms that the risk of dementia is reduced among well-off older people compared with those who have fewer economic resources,” said lead researcher Dorina Cadar.

“Public health strategies for dementia prevention should target socioeconomic gaps to reduce health disparities and protect those who are particularly disadvantaged,” Cadar added.

She’s a research associate at University College London’s department of behavioral science and health.

Many factors could be involved in the findings, including differences in lifestyle and overall health. Also, affluent people have greater social and cultural opportunities that allow them to remain actively engaged with the world, Cadar explained.

And the study did not prove that poverty directly causes dementia risk to rise, just that there’s an association.

Dr. Sam Gandy, director of the Mount Sinai Center for Cognitive Health and NFL Neurological Care in New York City, said it’s possible that one sign of dementia is losing control over your finances.

“Poor financial management may be an early sign of dementia, such that financial resources are depleted late in life,” he suggested.

“This may also be a manifestation of executive thinking dysfunction, such as paying bills multiple times, or poor judgment and vulnerability to scam artists,” Gandy said.

But Gandy also agreed that financial status may be a stand-in for a poorly managed diet and lifestyle, both of which are linked to the risk for dementia.

Cadar said that in “an English, nationally representative sample, the incidence of dementia appeared to be socioeconomically patterned, primarily by the level of wealth.”

In the study, she and her colleagues collected data on more than 6,200 men and women aged 65 and older.

Seven percent developed dementia in the 12 years between 2002-2003 and 2014-2015.

The risk of dementia was 50 percent higher among the poorest, compared with the richest people, the researchers found.

This finding was independent of level of education, amount of deprivation and overall health factors.

Rebecca Edelmayer is director of scientific engagement at the Alzheimer’s Association. She said, “This paper adds credence to the growing list of evidence suggesting that access to good health care and the ability to make healthy lifestyle decisions can really impact our risk of developing dementia.”

The report was published online May 16 in the journal JAMA Psychiatry.

WebMD News from HealthDay

Sources

SOURCES: Dorina Cadar, Ph.D. research associate, department of behavioral science and health, University College London; Rebecca Edelmayer, Ph.D., director, scientific engagement, Alzheimer’s Association; Sam Gandy, M.D., Ph.D., director, Mount Sinai Center for Cognitive Health and NFL Neurological Care, New York City; May 16, 2018,JAMA Psychiatry, online

Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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Joan Lunden’s Breast Cancer Journey: ‘You Feel So Vulnerable’

THURSDAY, Oct. 26, 2017 — Joan Lunden — co-host of “Good Morning America” for nearly two decades and a long-time health advocate — is now also a breast cancer survivor.

By sharing her experience, Lunden hopes she can help other women facing a frightening cancer diagnosis.

“It’s so shocking when you hear you have cancer, and you feel so vulnerable,” said Lunden, 67.

Lunden never missed an annual mammogram to check for breast cancer. But each year, she said the process was “nerve-racking” because she has dense breast tissue that can make it difficult to distinguish healthy breast tissue from tumor tissue.

Many women with dense breast tissue, particularly those with risk factors for breast cancer such as a family history, are advised to get additional testing — an MRI or sometimes an ultrasound. When Lunden went in for an ultrasound, she received shocking news.

“I had an aggressive, virulent form of breast cancer — triple negative breast cancer,” she said.

At the time Lunden was diagnosed, her cancer was stage 2 — meaning it was still confined to the breast or nearby lymph nodes.

With triple negative breast cancer, there are few treatment decisions to be made.

“My only choice was strong chemotherapy,” Lunden said. “And of course, the first thing I thought was, ‘Am I going to lose my hair?’ And of course, I did, along with my eyebrows and eyelashes, but I didn’t know that would happen, and I didn’t know other risks that come with chemotherapy.”

Marilyn Leroy-Sterling is a nurse-practitioner and a health and wellness coordinator at Northern Westchester Hospital’s Cancer Treatment and Wellness Center in Mount Kisco, N.Y.

While you’re in treatment, Leroy-Sterling said, “it’s very important to realize that you’re not always in control anymore. You have to follow what your doctor and your body are telling you to do.”

Communicating with your cancer team can help you get through the difficult times, she noted. “Communication is so important, and no matter how small you think something is, your doctor needs to know if you’re struggling,” she added.

Often, the earlier you let your doctor or oncology nurse know that you don’t feel well, the sooner they can help with a treatment or therapy, said Leroy-Sterling.

Lunden said she had a moment where she thought about hiding her diagnosis from the public. But then she thought, “This wasn’t just about me. This is something that happens all the time, and here was a chapter in my life where I could make a difference.”

So she blogged during her treatments — she ended up having surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. Later, she teamed up with drug maker Amgen to create the “At Home with Joan” patient empowerment campaign. Amgen manufactures a drug that helps to prevent neutropenia, a potentially serious chemotherapy complication.

Lunden hopes to help women find ways to stay in control and cope with the many facets involved with a cancer diagnosis.

For example, how do you tell your kids about cancer? Lunden has three older girls, but also had two sets of pre-teen twins when she was diagnosed.

“With the younger ones, we contemplated not saying anything at first, but my oncology nurse told me that family secrets aren’t a good thing, and what kids imagine will be far worse than what’s really going on. So you need to sit them down and tell them — in an age-appropriate way — what’s going on,” she recommended.

And tips for women going through treatment?

If you have family or friends who can accompany you to doctors’ appointments or chemotherapy, Lunden said, that support can be very helpful.

Lunden said staying hydrated was a big issue for her. She’s always had trouble drinking enough, but it’s even more important to do so during treatment. She actually wore 10 bracelets on one arm, and moved them over to the other arm as she drank a cup of water so she had a visual reminder that she needed to drink water.

Fatigue is a problem during treatment, too, but Lunden suggested trying to schedule light activities like a walk with friends in the morning. “It’s easy to stay in bed and think about your symptoms and make yourself feel worse. Try to get up and do something. Try to stay engaged in life and hold on to normalcy,” she said.

But most of all, Lunden advised learning as much as you can about your particular cancer. “Breast cancer isn’t just one disease,” she said. “The more you know, the better you understand what’s going on.”

More information

Learn more about triple negative breast cancer from the National Breast Cancer Foundation.

©2017 HealthDay.

All rights reserved.

Posted: October 2017

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Mental Illness May Make Teens Vulnerable to Drugs, Alcohol

FRIDAY Aug. 5, 2016, 2016 — Teens who are struggling with mental health disorders are more likely to smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol and use marijuana, a new Brazilian study suggests.

Researchers reviewed self-reported data from more than 4,000 high school students in Sao Paulo. The teens were between the ages of 15 and 18. They came from 128 public and private schools.

Just under half had clinically significant symptoms of mental health conditions. Another 8 percent had some symptoms, and 44 percent had no symptoms, the study revealed.

During the previous month, 38 percent of teens had used alcohol, 9 percent said they’d used tobacco and 7 percent had used marijuana. When asked about frequent use, 2 percent of teens said they frequently used alcohol, tobacco or marijuana, the study found.

Teens with clinically significant symptoms of mental health problems were more likely to use alcohol, tobacco and marijuana than those without symptoms, the researchers said.

“Studies to determine which specific mental health symptoms are associated with substance use among adolescents in different settings are crucial,” said senior study author Dr. Silvia Martins. She is an associate professor of epidemiology at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health in New York City.

“In developing countries such as Brazil where a wide gap of social inequalities is observed, this is particularly important. Mental health policies should focus on these populations, especially since providing early treatment for psychiatric symptoms may have a direct impact on mental health prevalence and its costs among adults,” Martins added in a Columbia news release.

The study was published online recently in The American Journal on Addictions.

More information

The U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism outlines how parents can prevent children and teens from drinking.

Posted: August 2016

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Breast Cancer Survivors Vulnerable for Thyroid Tumors, and Vice Versa: Study

Doctors, patients should know of increased risk, expert says

WebMD News from HealthDay

By Steven Reinberg

HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Feb. 5, 2016 (HealthDay News) — Women who survive either breast or thyroid cancer may be at increased risk for the other tumor type, according to a new analysis.

University of Chicago researchers who reviewed 37 published studies found breast cancer survivors were 1.55 times more likely to develop thyroid cancer than women who hadn’t had breast cancer. And, female thyroid cancer survivors were 1.18 times more likely to get breast cancer than women who hadn’t had thyroid cancer, researchers said.

“This is a real risk,” said study lead author Dr. Raymon Grogan, director of the university’s endocrine surgery research program.

“People who have had one of these cancers need to be aware that they are at higher risk for developing the other cancer,” he said.

Thyroid cancer cases have nearly tripled in the United States over the past 30 years, and breast cancer is the most common cancer among women, according to background notes with the study. Thanks to medical advances, more women are surviving each cancer, Grogan said.

Doctors need to be more aware of the link between the two cancers, Grogan said.

“It should just become one of the common discussions between a patient and her doctor,” he said. “It doesn’t change the recommendations for screening, but people need to be aware and be screened at the appropriate time.”

The report was published Feb. 5 in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention.

Carol DeSantis, director of breast and gynecological cancer surveillance at the American Cancer Society, said the connection between thyroid and breast cancer is known.

She said her concern with this new report is that by lumping together so many studies that differ in their methods and findings, it’s impossible to come up with a single number that accurately reflects the risk of having one cancer after having had the other.

“The review of different studies is helpful to see that there is that link, but combining them all together, I am not sure who that would be applicable to,” DeSantis said.

WebMD Health

Obese People May Be More Vulnerable to Food Cues

THURSDAY Sept. 11, 2014, 2014 — Obese people may be more vulnerable to environmental food cues than thin people because of differences in their brain chemistry, a new study suggests.

This finding could explain why obese people tend to overeat in response to food triggers, such as food aromas and advertisements, according to researchers from the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

“These findings point to the complexity of obesity and contribute to our understanding of how people with varying amounts of body fat process information about food,” Dr. Griffin Rodgers, director of the NIH’s National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), said in an institute news release. Griffin said this knowledge might help design more effective weight-loss programs.

Eating may be less rewarding and more of a habit for obese people due to differences in dopamine activity — a chemical messenger in the brain that affects reward, motivation and habit formation, the study author said.

Although the study’s findings do not show a cause-and-effect relationship between obesity and dopamine activity in the brain, the investigators said future research will examine changes in dopamine activity as people’s diets, weight and level of physical activity change over time.

The study, published in the Sept. 9 online edition of Molecular Psychiatry, involved 43 men and women. The study participants followed the same schedule for eating, sleeping and activity. They also completed questionnaires about how they responded to environmental triggers and about overeating. Brain imaging tests helped the researchers to see which parts of the brain were involved.

The researchers found those who were obese had increased activity in the habit-forming part of their brain and reduced activity in the area that controls reward.

“While we cannot say whether obesity is a cause or an effect of these patterns of dopamine activity, eating based on unconscious habits rather than conscious choices could make it harder to achieve and maintain a healthy weight, especially when appetizing food cues are practically everywhere,” the study’s lead author, Kevin Hall, a senior investigator at NIDDK explained in the news release.

“This means that triggers such as the smell of popcorn at a movie theater or a commercial for a favorite food may have a stronger pull for an obese person — and a stronger reaction from their brain chemistry — than for a lean person exposed to the same trigger,” Hall said.

More information

The U.S. National Institutes of Health has more about obesity.

Posted: September 2014

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Doctors Urge Meningitis Shots for Vulnerable Infants, Children


Docs Urge Meningitis Shots for Some Infants, Kids

And teens, college students should make sure their vaccines are up to date, says Academy of Pediatrics

WebMD News from HealthDay

By Maureen Salamon

HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, July 28, 2014 (HealthDay News) — Infants and children who are at risk of contracting meningitis because of specific health problems should be vaccinated against the infection, according to updated recommendations from the largest pediatrician group in the United States.

And routine vaccinations for the potentially deadly infection should continue for adolescents and college students, the American Academy of Pediatrics says.

In its first statement on meningococcal vaccines since 2011, the academy notes that three such vaccines are now licensed for use down into infancy. They are deemed appropriate for youngsters age 2 months and older with immune deficiencies, missing spleens, sickle cell disease or other higher infection risks. Other young children don’t need the shots, the guidelines say.

Those same meningococcal vaccines and boosters, long recommended for children 11 and older, should continue to be given to those kids, the academy stated.

“We needed to have new recommendations so that pediatricians would understand how to use these vaccines in young infants and children, since they’re now available,” said guidelines author Dr. Michael Brady, associate medical director at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

“We’re telling pediatricians that we don’t feel it’s necessary to give this vaccination routinely to young children,” he added, “but for children with select risks, it’s a good vaccine to give.”

The updated meningococcal recommendations are published online July 28 in the journal Pediatrics.

Meningococcal disease is linked to a variety of infections, including meningitis and pneumonia. Meningitis, an infection of the covering of the brain and spinal cord, strikes between 800 and 1,200 people in the United States each year, according to the National Meningitis Association.

Up to 15 percent of those affected die, while about one in five who survive ends up with permanent disabilities such as brain damage, hearing loss or limb amputations.

Typically, otherwise healthy children younger than 11 who develop meningitis have contracted the “B” strain. A vaccination for this type has not yet been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which is why that age group is not routinely immunized, Brady said. There are five strains of bacterial meningitis and each tends to strike a specific age group or population, according to background information in the study.

The “B” strain of bacterial meningitis is what sickened a small group of college students at Princeton University in New Jersey earlier this year and killed a student from Drexel University in Philadelphia who had been in close contact with Princeton students.

But immune-compromised children, along with those who will travel to the “meningitis belt” in sub-Saharan Africa or participate in the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, should now be immunized with available vaccines, which target meningitis strains more common among adolescents and college students, he said.

WebMD Health

Abused Women Vulnerable to Unsafe Sex Practices

FRIDAY Jan. 31, 2014, 2014 — Women who are victims of domestic violence are at increased risk for infection with HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, new research finds.

The study included women seen at an upstate New York public clinic that treats people with sexually transmitted diseases. The women completed a questionnaire that asked them about intimate relationships and risky sexual behavior.

Seventeen percent of the women reported domestic violence in the past three months. And recent domestic violence was associated with a fear that asking a male partner to use a condom during sex would lead to violence.

“Our findings suggest that women involved in violent relationships fear that their partner might respond with violence if asked to use a condom, which in turn leads to less condom use for these women,” Theresa Senn, a senior research scientist at the Centers for Behavioral and Preventive Medicine at Miriam Hospital in Providence, R.I., said in a hospital news release.

“Protecting themselves from unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, is not as easy as just telling their partner to wear a condom,” said Senn, the study’s co-author. “The potential consequences of asking their partner to wear a condom are more immediate and potentially more severe than an unintended pregnancy or [sexually transmitted infection].”

The findings, published online recently in the journal Women & Health, show that health care providers involved in preventing HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, and other sexually transmitted infections need to help women deal with the threat of domestic violence, Senn said.

“For women in violent relationships, counseling to use a condom and training in condom assertiveness skills are unlikely to increase condom usage,” Senn said. These women might need additional counseling about healthy relationships, and assistance developing a safety plan, she said.

Each year, 27 percent of new HIV infections in the United States are in women, and heterosexual sex accounts for 83 percent of those infections, according to the news release. A recent national study found that 12 percent of HIV infections among women were linked with domestic violence.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has more about women and HIV.

Posted: January 2014

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U.S. Teens More Vulnerable to Genital Herpes, Study Suggests

THURSDAY Oct. 17, 2013 — Today’s teens may be at higher risk than ever of contracting genital herpes because they don’t have enough immune system antibodies to shield them against the sexually transmitted virus, a new study suggests.

This increase in risk may be the result of fewer teens being exposed in childhood to the herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1), a common cause of cold sores, researchers reported Oct. 17 in the online edition of the Journal of Infectious Diseases.

“HSV-1 now is the predominant herpes strain causing genital infection,” explained Dr. David Kimberlin, chair of infectious diseases at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine, and the author of a journal editorial.

According to Kimberlin, the new findings suggest that almost one in 10 adolescents who a decade ago would have already acquired HSV-1 and built up some immunity may now encounter HSV-1 when they first become sexually active. That could leave them more susceptible to genital herpes than young people were in the past.

“This [also] has potentially significant consequences on neonatal herpes transmission,” which occurs when a baby contracts the herpes virus from a genitally infected mother, Kimberlin said. “We must continue to monitor these changes and watch for shifts in neonatal herpes infection that possibly could result.”

Of the eight types of herpes, the two that are most important in terms of disease transmission are HSV-1 and herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2), both of which cause lifelong infections with no known cure. These viruses can have dormant periods after an initial outbreak. HSV-1 is usually contracted in childhood, by skin-to-skin contact with an infected adult, whereas HSV-2 is most often sexually transmitted.

However, recent research indicates that HSV-1 is becoming a major cause of genital herpes in industrialized countries. One study found nearly 60 percent of genital herpes infections were caused by HSV-1, the researchers noted.

A shift by young people toward participation in oral sex might help explain the trend, experts said, since the herpes virus can easily be transmitted in this way from the mouth to the genitals.

“I tell patients herpes is like your credit history — whatever you did you can never get rid of,” said one expert not connected to the study, Dr. Marcelo Laufer, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Miami Children’s Hospital.

“Every year the proportion of patients who get infected with HSV-1 through oral sex is increasing,” he said. “Adolescents who reach that age without being exposed to HSV-1 might, through oral sex, be more susceptible to the infection.”

The virus is usually passed through saliva, but in more recent years better hygiene may have kept the virus from spreading to young children, Laufer theorized. That means that fewer children are now exposed and are producing antibodies against HSV.

HSV-1 and HSV-2 can also cause significant problems for newborn infants, who don’t yet have mature immune systems capable of fighting the viruses. As many as 30 percent of infected babies die from this infection if they have the most severe form of the disease, Kimberlin noted.

In the new study, a team of researchers led by Heather Bradley of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention used data from federal government surveys to track the prevalence of herpes among 14- to 49-year-olds in the United States.

Overall, they found that 54 percent of Americans in this age range were infected with HSV-1.

Among 14- to 19-year-olds, however, the prevalence of protective HSV-1 antibodies fell by nearly 23 percent from 1999 to 2010, the research team found.

Among those aged 20 to 29, HSV-1 prevalence dropped more than 9 percent. HSV-1 prevalence remained stable among those in their 30s and 40s.

These data suggest that more teens lack HSV-1 antibodies at their first sexual encounter now than in decades past, and so are more susceptible to genital herpes.

“In combination with increased oral sex behaviors among young people, this means that adolescents may be more likely than those in previous time periods to genitally acquire HSV-1,” the researchers concluded.

More information

There’s more on genital herpes at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Posted: October 2013

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Saturated Fat May Make the Brain Vulnerable to Alzheimer’s

MONDAY June 17, 2013 — A diet high in saturated fat can quickly rob the brain of a key chemical that helps protect against Alzheimer’s disease, according to new research.

In a small study published online Monday in the journal JAMA Neurology, researchers found that dietary saturated fat cut the body’s levels of the chemical apolipoprotein E, also called ApoE, which helps “chaperone” amyloid beta proteins out of the brain.

“People who received a high-saturated-fat, high-sugar diet showed a change in their ApoE, such that the ApoE would be less able to help clear the amyloid,” said research team member Suzanne Craft, a professor of medicine at Wake Forest School of Medicine.

Amyloid beta proteins left loose in the brain are more likely to form plaques that interfere with neuron function, the kind of plaques found in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease.

Diet also directly affected the amount of loose amyloid beta found in cerebrospinal fluid, Craft said. Those on a high-saturated-fat diet had higher levels of amyloid beta in their spinal fluid, while people on a low-saturated-fat diet actually saw a decline in such levels, she said.

“An amyloid that is not cleared — or attached to ApoE to get cleared — has a greater likelihood of becoming this toxic form,” Craft said.

The clinical trial, led by Dr. Angela Hanson of the Veterans Affairs Puget Sound Health Care System in Seattle, involved 20 seniors with normal cognition and 27 with mild thinking impairment, a precursor to Alzheimer’s disease.

The patients, all in their late 60s, were randomly assigned to diets that contained the same amount of calories but were either high or low in saturated fat. The high-saturated-fat diets had 45 percent of total energy coming from fat, and more than a quarter of the total fat came from saturated fats. The low-saturated-fat diets had 25 percent of energy coming from fat, with saturated fat contributing less than 7 percent to total fat.

After just a month, the diets caused changes in the amounts of amyloid beta and ApoE in the study participants’ cerebrospinal fluid, researchers said.

“Diet can really change levels of these toxic proteins and of these mediators that help clear these amyloids,” Craft said. “Diets that are very high in bad cholesterol seem to interfere with ApoE’s ability to clear amyloid.”

One gerontology expert, who wrote an editorial accompanying the study in the journal, didn’t think the link was quite that clear.

Although the study shows that diet can affect brain chemistry, it does not definitely tie diet to a person’s risk for Alzheimer’s disease, said Dr. Deborah Blacker, director of the Gerontology Research Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

“Is it plausible to say this could affect the risk of having Alzheimer’s pathology in your brain? It’s not showing that,” said Blacker, who also is with the Harvard School of Public Health. “It’s showing that some of the chemicals related to Alzheimer’s pathology can shift in response to dietary factors.”

The study does, however, offer important insight into the value of good nutrition, she said.

“The important lesson from the study is that dietary intervention can change brain amyloid chemistry in largely consistent and apparently meaningful ways, in a short period of time,” Blacker wrote in the editorial. “Does this change clinical practice for those advising patients who want to avoid dementia? Probably not, but it adds another small piece to the growing evidence that taking good care of your heart is probably good for your brain too.”

People focus on diet in terms of weight and heart health, but they overlook that nutrition can be key to cognitive function as well, Craft said.

“Diet is a very underappreciated factor in terms of brain function,” she said. “It’s quite well accepted for your heart and your cholesterol and your blood, but diet is critical for a healthy brain aging. Many of the things the brain needs to function properly — fatty acids, certain amino acids — come only from food.”

More information

For more on a healthy diet for the brain, visit the Alzheimer’s Association.

Posted: June 2013

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Access To Mental Health Drugs Among Vulnerable Populations Living With HIV Is Affected By State-Level Factors

HIV / AIDS News Useful Links Video Library Access To Mental Health Drugs Among Vulnerable Populations Living With HIV Is Affected By State-Level Factors Retweet Main Category: HIV / AIDS Also Included In: Mental Health ;   Psychology / Psychiatry
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EU State Aid: Commission Approves Slovakia’s Plan To Provide Digital TV Decoders To Socially Vulnerable

Commission has approved under EU state aid rules a ?11 million aid scheme supporting the purchase of digital television terminal equipment for socially vulnerable groups in Slovakia. The Commission found the measure to be in line with Article 107(2)(a)
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